The Walking Dead returned from its mid-season intermission Sunday night. We last saw our favorite fearless zombie fighters waged in war with a rival survivor group led by the Governor. We saw the death of Hershel and the most likely death of baby Judith. We saw the crew split up. We saw Rick and Carl make it to the woods, and that’s where our journey picked up.
As we follow Carl through the episode, we see how anger and pain fuels his want to be considered a grown up and able to fend for himself. He has a strong desire to be independent and it only strengthens after the projected loss of his sister where he finds fault in his father’s ability to protect their family and the other survivors he has come to love. His growing pains leave him fighting for his life on his independent journey to forage for food with no one to save him but himself.
Carl’s cocky attitude leaves him in a couple different sticky situations, one involving pudding. His pudding scene was the perfect showcase of his struggle between childhood and adulthood. In this moment, he is so content in his childhood pleasure of pudding, while turning his back to the danger of the death that reaches for him just a few feet away.
Carl has put on the brave face many times before, and as his father lies on the couch comatose from all the injuries from the battle with the Governor, he is fearful his last remaining parent has turned. Hand raised with gun, Carl can’t take his father’s life like he did his mother’s. After his father mumbles out his name, he realizes Rick is still alive. Carl knows that he can’t survive alone.
Along with the father-son drama, the audience also gained insight into Michonne’s life and character emotionally. Her hard warrior exterior was broken when we see her confront the memories of her son and lover. Michonne has always been portrayed as a loner and on rare occasions has displayed connections with other characters. The amount of loss that she has experienced defaults her to survival mode and soon finds herself walking with her zombie pets in a herd with a zombie that could pass as her twin. She knows what life would look like if she chose death and in an instance chooses life and slays the entire herd of 23 zombies.
Soon after her, she finds clues of other life and stumbles upon Rick and Carl where we finally have hope of character reconnection. With no signs of the rest of the zombie fighting crew, audience members anxiously await next week’s episode.