Monday, February 17, 2014

Carl Eats Pudding and Becomes a Man


“After”
First, I feel compelled to apologize to my faithful readers. I missed last week’s premiere! With Showtime's Shameless, HBO's True Detective and my need to catch up on Lena Dunham’s latest semi-nude sighting, I forgot that The Walking Dead was returning in February. In my opinion, postponing the premiere until Valentine’s Day weekend would have been more appropriate, but the folks at AMC had other plans. So, I now find myself On-Demanding the premiere to bring you the very latest goings on following the decimation of the prison compound. What happened to all of our favorite characters? Who is dead and who made it through their own moxy and aplomb? Hopefully, the first two episodes will answer our long-held queries.
Rick and son Carl are still reeling from the recent assault on the prison, as well as baby Judith’s untimely death. They encounter a zombie at a former BBQ joint selling hot sauce, but that’s about all he’s peddling. A dispute quickly ensues between father and son regarding who gets to kill what, when and how. Fortunately they find some water and pickles; the pickles to eat first and then the water to quench one’s thirst when the salty pickles leave you so dang parched! I foresee much tension between the two in this episode, and not just about the pickles.
They find a pad to crash in. They’re not exactly working in tandem here, but can you blame them? Their family is no more; they don’t know where the heck their friends are; and all they have to eat are bread and butter pickles and Joe-Joe’s hot sauce. Carl even invokes Shane’s name, which is tantamount to a Harry Potter fan shouting “Voldemort!” in a crowded movie theater filled with tween fans of the popular, bespectacled warlock. I must say, though, this isn’t fun, watching a prepubescent Carl bicker with his dad. They may as well be on a scouting trip that Carl only reluctantly agreed to attend.
Via flashback, we catch a fleeting glimpse of Michonne pre-apocalypse. She has a son! A very cute one. I’m guessing that of the two men she’s talking to, one of them is her boyfriend and the child’s father, and the other is his friend. She’s having a nightmare. We are clued into this fact when Michonne carefully inserts her katana next to her steak knives. When she wakes up, we note that she has wisely “recruited” two de-jawed walkers to be her protectors, replacing the two the Governor killed off in season three. You may recall that her boyfriend and his best friend formerly filled this macabre role.
Carl pours some cereal for himself in what could be a Saturday morning commercial. Dad Rick is out cold. Uh oh, someone’s trying to break into their jerry-rigged front door. Aaaand, it’s a pair of hungry, ugly walkers. Why do all the female walkers wear long, peasant skirts and lace up boots that were in style gosh knows how many years ago? What, the apocalypse didn’t zombify any fashionable ladies? Carl finds himself in a smelly, sticky spot with two walkers on top of him and pukes his little guts out. Perhaps you are not such a bad ass after all, Carl?
However, Carl paints a very different picture to comatose Rick. I don’t need you to protect me anymore, he says, “You just wanted to plant vegetables.” Carl recites a rather pointed speech to his father, stating what we are all kinda sorta thinking about ineffective, nebbish Rick, who is still oblivious to Carl’s hectoring. We know, of course, that this is not true: Carl is a whiny bitch who couldn’t keep his cookies down when the going got tough, and almost got himself killed because of his own bravado.
We see Carl on his own, trying to use his body weight to force the locked door of another house open. Eventually, he succeeds. In the ultimate fulfillment of every hungry adolescent male, he finds an absurdly enormous can of chocolate pudding! Carl encounters an angry, older walker on the second floor and is not faring well, certainly not as well as he thought he would in his role as newly emancipated Carl. After grappling with him and narrowly avoiding becoming a mid-morning snack himself, Carl locks the zombie in the room. He leaves a scrawling in chalk on the locked door to document his accomplishment: WALKER INSIDE; GOT MY SHOE BUT HE DIDN’T GET ME. To commemorate and perhaps celebrate, Carl sits perched on the roof of the house, just beyond the grasp of the locked-up walker, spooning the chocolate pudding into his mouth right out of the huge can.
Michonne is still moving with the Mini Walker Migration of 2014. First she is just another peaceful, stumbling member of the pack, but then it suddenly seems to dawn on her just who her traveling companions are, and she goes nuts, methodically killing all of them. I am then subjected to the same Ragu commercial that they have shown during each and every commercial break. Sigh. Such is the nature of On Demand.
Anyway, back to the father and son saga. Carl thinks dad Rick has turned, but his throat is just scratchy, so just calm down, Carl. Things aren’t always as they seem.
Rick acknowledges that Carl is moving from boyhood to manhood. With Judith out of the picture, maybe Rick can relax a little and let his pessimism flag fly. Michonne stumbles upon Rick and Carl, tearfully. She knocks purposefully on the jerry-rigged door…

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