Season 4, Episode 9 prepost, “What Happens ‘After?'”

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So, what happens “After?”

Welcome back, gang….It’s been a nice couple of months since we watched the Governor implode in a hero-brother-hating self-sabotage and basically fuck it all up for everybody, including himself, by making an ill-fated play for the prison.  

The Walking Dead’s Season 4 mid-season finale, Too Far Gone, left everybody either dead or broken and bleeding, running for their lives in ragtag bands (or alone) as the prison is overrun with walkers… and then, after the finale,  we shaken WD fans all took a well-earned break from the mayhem and went on holiday.

And it’s the day we’ve been waiting for, Feb. 9th, 2014. Tonight, my friends, WD is back with its mid-season premiere, “After,” and the blood and guts are gonna hit the proverbial fan.

After a couple of moons, many questions, predictions, and about a million social media freakouts later, the question stands:  We are back, but are we ready?

I, for one, do not know… but here I am.  So, armed with two Stellas for self-medication (and bravery), I rewatched Too Far Gone… and yes, it was even more brutal and heartbreaking this time around.

I did notice a couple of things in the episode that I guess I had missed before, like Rick’s getting shot in the leg…I did not remember that Rick had gotten shot in the thigh.

That is so not good, and his poor, beautiful face is looking like raw hamburger meat after the Gov beat the total crap out of him and almost strangled him to death (btw, that fight scene between Rick and the Gov is one of the burliest onscreen punchouts, ever).

Rick’s not looking too good in the previews, either, and then there’s that scene in the preview where Carl’s terrified face is above an unconscious Rick, screaming for him to “Wake up! Wake up!”

Oh, god…Rick…I cannot.  I just cannot.

(Stella!   At this point, I took a writing break and went to the neighborhood bodega get another twelver of Stella…I am learning that when writing, one must choose their beverages wisely and stick with the chosen kinds during the writing process. Bukowski would agree, I think.)

One of the main questions I wanted to get clear on while rewatching Too Far Gone was:  Who ended up with whom as the surviving prison peeps scattered?  

From what I saw, Glenn ended up on the bus, Maggie ended up with Sasha and Bob, Tyrese ended up chasing after Lizzy and Mika, yelling, “Hey! We go that way!”  (I sense the potential for a kooky sitcom here, NewDad and the girls braving the pitfalls and funny shenanigans of zombie apocalypse and impending puberty).

Daryl and Beth ended up together, and I have this creepy feeling they are going to hook up at some point. While I do feel a little jealous and shitty about that possibly happening, I really couldn’t blame them…they are both smokin’ hot and pumped full of adrenaline. And, I suppose you gotta get it while you can in these dire times.

I don’t hate the players, people…at times, however, I do hate the game.

When I suggested the Daryl Fucks Beth Postulate to my WD buddy (by texting, God, is Daryl going to fuck Beth?), she immediately texted back, No, Daryl is not!  

Hmmm….I wish I could be that confident. I do not relish the mental picture that comes up in my head when I think of Daryl and Beth getting it on… but the way I see it, while Daryl may not, Beth definitely would, and will.

I remember that long-ass hug she gave him in “30 Days Without an Accident.”  That Beth is a little Lolita, and despite his best efforts, Daryl may just give in to a “what the hell” moment late one night, when all they’ve got is each other, and Beth’s looking real cute tidying up their squatter house and singing a Tom Waits song to herself.

Whatever happens, let’s just hope that when it does happen, they don’t get walked in on by Crazy Carol. That would not go over well.

Oh, you didn’t hear? Carol’s coming back… at least, that’s what the buzz is about on social media these days.

Norman Reedus posted pictures on Instagram of Melissa McBride getting made up backstage at the Conan show, and all the comments were about how two characters from before are returning to WD.  No surprise here. I knew Carol was coming back.(Refer to the ongoing Crazy Carol Theory in previous posts)  

Nobody puts Carol in the corner!

As for the second WD alum returning to the show, my work buddy Jeff and I have been predicting Morgan’s return into the forefront of the storyline for some time now…Jeff is the maverick who offered the Carl Theory in the first part of Season 4, and I respect his WD insights (even though you still haven’t put a “Like” on my Barnfullawalkers FB page, Jeff, you cagey bastard!). https://www.facebook.com/barnfullawalkers

Ahem…sorry…where was I?

Oh yes, anyway, at the end of Season 3, Jeff and I both agreed that we thought it was Morgan who poured gasoline on the Gov’s pit of walkers and set them on fire (thus spawning The Morgan Theory. )  But, of course, at the  time, the Gov blamed poor Milton for torching his pit walkers.

Remember when the Gov asked Milton, “Where did you get the gasoline?” to set the fire, and Milt looked like he didn’t know what the Gov was talking about? Then, in a total dick move, the Gov killed Milt and left him to zombify, chomp Andrea, and, ostemsibly, zombify her… earning my vote for the Governor as the Worst Boyfriend Ever.

Anyway, Jeff and I have discussed The Morgan Theory at length during lulls at work… we’ve always said that he’s coming back to be a major game changer and fuck some shit up.

So, my pick for characters returning are (drumroll, please):  Morgan and Crazy Carol, WD’s Homecoming King and Queen!  I mean, who else is left as far as characters from before? Everyone else is all dead, right?

Three characters, however, remain a question: Tara, Lilly, and Baby Judith.  Are they alive or dead, and will we see any of them again?

Baby Judith.  Sigh…  Man, I don’t know.  Many of my friends are talking about how Baby Judith could have been scooped up and taken on the bus…yeah, yeah.  I would love that, I really would.

That last shot of her, strapped into the baby carrier and being jostled by Mika and the other cute girl as they tried to carry her to the bus, is burned into my memory…I mean, she was the most beautiful baby in the world.  We all love Baby Judith! Even Daryl named her Lil Asskicker.  I am so pro-Baby Judith being alive, I really am.  

I love Baby Judith!

But….I also know that back in Season 3, when Glenn Mazzarra was still at the WD writing helm, the other writers were pretty much wanting to kill off Baby Judith…and Glenn Mazzarra held them back…for a while.

Now, Glenn Mazzarra is out, and Scott M. Gimple’s at the helm. And, after Too Far Gone aired on AMC, Talking Dead’s Chris Hardwick asked Robert Kirkman about the possibility of Baby Judith being alive still.  In response to that question, Robert Kirkman got this look on his face, this scoff, like he was so sure that he was so doubtful about that one.

After the scoff, Kirkman kind of shook his head, and said, with a laugh,  “There was a lot of blood in that car seat!”

That, straight from The Mouth of Kirkman, people, the creator of both The Walking Dead comic series and the television series… I would say that Kirkman pretty much has the final say on Baby Judith’s fate, or anything to do with The Walking Dead.

So, unless Kirkman is totally fucking with us and playing with our emotions (and we know how he, and Gimple, and Nicotero and the rest of the gang at WD, Inc. love to play with our emotions)…

…Baby Judith is probably not one of the returning characters…I really want to be wrong about this, people.  Let’s hope I am.

I will say that with this most recent and painful viewing of Too Far Gone, I did see the possibility of Judith being scooped up by someone from the prison who had been wounded and who, perhaps, bled on her while freeing her from the car seat and carrying her to safety.

I tried to see if the car seat straps were torn or gnawed away when I watched the wrenching scene of Carl and Rick’s discovery of the bloodied and empty seat.  It was really hard to tell.

I am not sure what happened to Tara, or her sister Lilly, after Lilly pulled the trigger on her shitty boyfriend, the Gov.  It would not be hard to imagine Lilly turning the gun on herself and pulling the trigger after she did the deed on the Gov, after losing her daughter, Meghan and everything going to shit. I guess we will see if either of the ill-fated sisters shows up in the second installment of Season 4… I liked them both, so I would hope so.

I am also not sure what happened to Michonne, if she ended up with any of the other prison peeps…my WD buddy thought she had ended up with Rick and Carl, but in that final scene, when Rick tells Carl not to look back, to just keep going, it is just them, no Michonne.

I know that Michonne can take care of herself, but she was just starting to open up to the others, and to get thrust back into that bleak solitary survival mode would just suck so bad…maybe she’ll find Tara and they will travel together and be hot asskicking girlfriends!

I can’t stop thinking about that crazy scene in the “After” preview, when Carl is luring the walkers away from the front door of the house, and down the street… I have been watching it over and over and thinking about Carl a lot.

Apparently, that scene is straight from the comic series. I think this time together, with Carl and his father, is going to be really significant in the development of their relationship, as they only have each other.  And it looks in the preview that Rick is pretty messed up, and Carl has to take care of him, even screaming down at Rick in terror that Rick is slipping away… I am so freaking scared for them, for all of them, but I am especially bonded to Rick and Carl.

Ok, so this brings us to the hard hitting question that is in, I think, everyone’s hearts: How is this all going to go down? What is going to  happen to our most beloved WD characters?  

The long term prognosis is not good here, people.  While I do not pretend to be an expert on the comic series, I do know enough to know that the end isn’t exactly chocolates and roses.

At this point in the zombie apocalypse, even if a group of people establish a foothold somewhere, set up a dwelling, and find a way to feed themselves and defend themselves to whatever degree from walkers, it seems that other surviving groups and individuals may prey upon them merely to get what they have.

Resources are dwindling, and the world is becoming more and more predatory, competitive, brutal to try to navigate and survive in.

And is it just me, or does it seem that the world of WD that Mother Nature herself is dying, or sick?  In the Camp Martinez episode, the lake next to the Gov’s camp was a dead lake, and the hunting expedition in the forest only yielded a dismal haul of a couple of squirrels… Rick’s attempt to raise hogs ended in a highly lethal swine flu… it all leaves me wondering if the pestilence and decay of the walkers is infecting the world and poisoning its resources even further.

We have to steel ourselves, people.  It’s balls-to-the-wall time. Some fucked-up mean characters from the comic series are coming.

Remember the radio promise of the Sanctuary? Remember how the little camp the Gov,  Martinez, and Sweet Pete happened upon was ransacked, the people massacred? And we never found out who was feeding the walkers rat-snacks and creating gruesome rabbit-art with entrails…

Many questions remain to be answered.

Now, I must say the thing that I do not want to say, but we are all thinking it.  I have read, and commented in, many exchanges on social media about the what if scenario: What if one (or more) of my favorite characters die?

Norman Reedus’s Instagram account is a classic example of the social media panic, as is AMC’s The Walking Dead live chat page.  People are really starting to freak the fuck out…they are posting comments like, NORMAN!!  IF DARYL DIES I WILL QUIT WATCHING THE SHOW!!!! 

Now, let’s all just take a deep, cleansing breath, shall we? That level of distress at the thought of losing a beloved WD character is totally understandable.  I did try to post, in response, what I thought was a placating, soothing thought, something like, Daryl Dixon is a warrior and does not fear going into the void…and Norman Reedus is alive, well, and here to stay!   That’s nice, right?

Trying to be reassuring, and the response I got to that was like the social media equivalent to being chased by an angry mob brandishing sticks and torches…never again!

But for all my brave words, I too am freaking about this.  I called my WD buddy and asked her, point blank, “Dude, what are we going to do if Daryl dies?”

I won’t go into all the details of what happened next… let’s just say there were tears,…and more tears…and some shaky laughter, and sharing memories, thoughts, feelings…it was raw, it was real.

We needed to get it out, and we were kind of moving through it, getting a grip on it….and then, my friend spoke the unspeakable sentence.

Her voice breaking, she said, “But…I don’t know what I would do…if Rick…”

Oh, God, say no more, SAY NO MORE!  Now it is time for my shouty caps and thousand exclamation points…. STELLA!!!!!

Ok, here is what I propose…we cannot control The Mind of Kirkman … The Law of Kirkman basically states (I think) something like:  Kirkman will do as Kirman wants, and Kirkman and Co. can (and will)  play with our emotions. It’s nothing personal…it’s how he do!

We have to stay strong, people.  I advise that you all set up a Daryl Plan with a designated Daryl Partner.

Here is how a Daryl Plan works:  

You pick a close friend and similarly obsessed WD buddy to be Daryl Partners with you, so if one of your very favorite characters dies in the show, you are there for one another.

In the Daryl Plan,  you and your Daryl Partner would check in with each other…Being a Daryl Partner may entail little, supportive gestures, like sending little encouraging texts throughout the day, such as, Thinking of u! Hope your day is going well! 🙂  Load on the emoticons.

Or, perhaps you can share some uplifting links to your Daryl Partner’s Facebook timeline, like, Onward and Upward! (or basically anything that involves a photo of a kitten, puppy, or baby, preferably with an upended bowl of spaghetti on their heads).

As a Daryl Partner, you may need to go check on your designated buddy’s place, unannounced, especially if you cannot get a hold of him or her by phone, text, or computer after repeated attempts…

You may need to go to their front door and knock loudly, calling their name.You may need to go around their house or apartment, looking in the windows… and if you see your buddy, face down, sobbing in a pool of tears and vomit, you may need to break in through one of the windows to get to them.  You may need to help lift your buddy up from their prostrate grief, gently wipe away the tears and vomit, and say something to snap them out of it, like, “You have to get it together…think of the children!”

A Daryl Plan is a serious pact, and the way I see it, key to our survival as WDO’s (Walking Dead Obsessed).  

The key tenant of the Daryl Plan is:  Do for your Daryl Partner as you would have your Daryl Partner do for you.

Pop-culture histrionics aside, the second installment of TheWalking Dead’s  Season 4 is sure to be a wild, fun ride, chock full of suspense, plot twists and turns like shiny, bloody innards, and super gnarly walker kills.

Nicotero will once again outdo himself, and Kirkman, Gimple, and the writing crew will be sure to infuse dark humor and moments of respite and renewal to keep us all hanging on through these dark times.

And there is sure to be amazing music, both by the inimitable Bear McCreary and an array of musical artists, as the addition of an ongoing playlist/soundtrack is one of the new offerings of Season 4. So stock up on Stellas (or whatever your beverage of choice) and strap on your strap-on’s, people.

We are in for a wild, bumpy ride.

To kick off the music, here is my humble offering…the prepost playlist for the upcoming mid-season premiere episode, “After.” Enjoy, and cheers!

Playlist:

Iron Maiden, Aces High

Soundgarden,  The Day I Tried to Live 

Foo Fighters,  Alone + Easy Target

(Oh, and p.s., if you haven’t already done so, find my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/barnfullawalkers and show the love…will be full of fun posts, updates, media, and wacky antics!)

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