Season 4, episode 09
- After the loss of their home and many loved ones, Rick, Carl and Michonne deal with old wounds.
The prison lies in shambles after the Governor's attack. As walkers continue to pour into the courtyard, Michonne appears and walks towards the carnage, dispatching several of them as she goes. She comes upon the decapitated head of Hershel, which has reanimated. Regretfully, she destroys his brain with her sword and continues onward, then sees two walkers become impaled on the wooden barricade outside the fence and has an idea. She cuts off their arms and jaws and uses them as "pets" to mask her scent and leave the prison.
Near the prison, Rick and Carl are walking along, with the latter walking faster and faster. Rick tells him to slow down, but Carl is angered at what happened. They stop at a roadside restaurant and Rick tells Carl to wait outside, to which the latter is near-furious because his father can barely stand, and tells him he's coming inside to help. In the restaurant, Rick moves to dispatch a walker with his handaxe, but isn't strong enough to kill it, forcing Carl to put it down with a bullet.
Rick expresses indignation at having to waste ammunition, but Carl replies that he couldn't be expected to kill a walker in his current condition. The duo take what food they can find and continue on to an abandoned house, where they barricade themselves inside, though not before Rick gets into a brief argument with Carl about the latter using knot-tying techniques from Shane.
In the nearby forest, Michonne continues walking along with her "pets", and comes across Rick and Carl's footprints on the road, but ignores them in favor of continuing into the forest. Soon after, she dreams that she is in an apartment with her boyfriend, Mike, his friend Terry and her child, but things become increasingly distressed and fragmented, culminating in the two men appearing to Michonne as having no arms. She wakes with a start, having slept inside a car with the two walker pets tethered outside.
At the abandoned house, Rick attempts to treat his injuries, and falls unconscious on a couch soon after. Carl explores the house and comes upon his comatose father, and unsuccessfully tries to wake him before ranting at him about his inability to protect the group and his own family.
Suddenly, Carl is interrupted by the pounding of walkers on the front door, just inches from where his father is sleeping. He goes outside to investigate, and discovers two walkers trying to get in. He lures them away from the house and dispatches them, though not before being attacked by a third walker as well, eventually shooting all three of them after he stumbles and falls on the road. In the aftermath, he vomits and continues to search the nearby neighbourhood.
In the forest, a defeated-looking Michonne continues to walk with her pets, but several more walkers have joined and formed a small pack. As they walk around her, Michonne is freaked out by a walker that has a braided hairstyle similar to hers.
Carl continues to investigate the neighbourhood and comes upon a large abandoned house, and discovers a large pot of pudding in the kitchen. However, as he explores the upper floor, he is attacked by a walker hiding in a bathroom and barely manages to escape before locking it in a bedroom. Winded but exhilarated, Carl sits on the second-storey overhang of the house and eats pudding while the walker futilely attempts to reach for him from the nearby bedroom window.
Michonne continues walking through the forest, but loses it when the braided walker moves closer to her, and angrily decapitates it. She dispatches the rest of the walker pack in a fit of anger, and walks back towards the dirt road, where she sees the footprints and follows them.
Later, Carl arrives back at the barricaded house and sees that his father is still lying motionless, and assumes the worst when he hears low moaning noises. Carl pulls out his gun and tries to fire, but realizes he can't do it, and tells the "walker" to finish him. Rick suddenly speaks in a hoarse voice to Carl, and tells him to stay safe. Carl is relieved.
As Michonne follows the footprints, she comes upon the roadside restaurant, where she has a breakdown and talks to "Mike", apologizing for what happened during the outbreak and her inability to stay at their camp.
Rick soon has enough strength to move around again, and Carl admits that he couldn't have gone on alone without him. As they sit and talk, Michonne discovers the house where they are staying, and breaks down with happiness. She knocks on the door, and a confused Rick moves to check who is outside, turning back with a smile as he tells Carl it's for him.
- A Day in the Limelight: Most of the episode focuses on Carl surviving on his own. The rest shows Michonne tracking the Grimes and finally gives an insight into her past.
- Absentee Actor: Only three main characters appear in the episode (Rick, Carl and Michonne), much like the episode "Clear".
- Adaptation Distillation: With the possible exception of the Pilot, this episode is by far the most closely adapted from the comics to date.
- Adult Fear: Rick worries about his son after finding out he went off on his own to draw the walkers away, and admits he couldn't go on without him.
- After-Action Healing Drama: Rick lapsing into unconsciousness due to his injuries motivates the plot, as Carl is forced to protect him (on his own) as a result.
- All Just a Dream: Michonne realizes this when her "flashback" becomes more and more disturbing and fragmented, leading to her snapping awake after sleeping.
- The Atoner: Michonne blames herself for what happened to Mike and Terry during the outbreak.
- An Axe to Grind: Rick tries this against a walker inside a roadside restaurant, although it doesn't work quite as well as he hoped (due to his lack of strength), forcing Carl to put the walker down with a bullet.
- Bottomless Magazines: Discussed - when Carl shoots a walker in a roadside house, Rick tells him that every bullet counts, and that they might have needed that if things go bad. Later turns into a Chekhov's Gun when Carl is one bullet short while trying to kill the walker in the abandoned house.
- Calling the Old Man Out: Carl gives his father a truly epic rant while the latter is unconscious, accusing him of failing to protect the group and focus on building a community in the midst of the apocalypse, before listing off all of the major casualties in the series to date.
- Chekhov's Gun: A literal example - Carl fires a bullet to kill the walker that Rick failed to dispatch with an axe, then later in the episode, as Carl is trying to dispatch the walker in the abandoned house, his clip is one bullet short, forcing him to use an improvised weapon instead.
- Chekhov's Skill: Shane teaching Carl how to make knots all the way back in season one's "Tell It To the Frogs" finally comes in handy in this episode.
- Continuity Nod:
- The first shot of the episode (zooming in on the destroyed tank in the prison) is an inverse of the final shot from the pilot episode.
- Clara is briefly seen amongst the horde of walkers flooding into the prison.
- Michonne's first action after seeing that the prison has fallen is to cut off the arms and jaws of two walkers and use them as "pets" to throw off a horde, much like what she did in "Beside The Dying Fire".
- While they're barricading the house, Carl mentions that he learned how to tie a strong knot from Shane, prompting him and Rick to have a brief argument about the latter's actions.
- The two (later three) walkers attacking Carl and falling on top of him after he kills them echoes a similar scene from "18 Miles Out".
- Michonne talks to her dead boyfriend, something that she mentioned in "Clear".
- Cynicism Catalyst: It's heavily implied that losing her child and lover was this for Michonne.
- Freak Out!: Michonne gets this after seeing a walker that looks like her and cuts down a pack of walkers in response.
- Giving Them the Strip: Carl loses a shoe to a walker in an abandoned house.
- Heroic BSoD:
- Michonne briefly lapses into one after seeing a walker that resembles her and killing at least a dozen more.
- Carl has one when he thinks that Rick has died and turned, tearfully begging his father to kill him and get it over with.
- Hollywood Healing: Averted - Rick can barely walk and has little-to-no strength, resulting in him going unconscious while trying to heal from his wounds, and forcing Carl to protect him by drawing walkers away from him.
- Improvised Weapon: Carl picks up a lamp and uses it to bash a walker across the face inside an abandoned house in order to escape.
- Infinite Supplies: Averted - Rick and Carl have a discussion about making their ammunition count, and they have to scrounge for supplies from several abandoned locations.
- Jump Scare: The walker attempting to attack Carl in the abandoned house.
- Made of Plasticine: Michonne effortlessly dispatches a dozen-plus walkers, with at least one of them notably looking much more decomposed than the others.
- Mercy Kill: Michonne does this to Hershel's reanimated head.
- Mundane Utility: In her dream, Michonne keeps her samurai sword in a knife block in her kitchen.
- Parental Neglect: Discussed - Carl calls out his comatose father for failing to protect Lori and Judith, and says that he can make it on his own without his father's help. He later admits that this isn't the case, and that he wouldn't have survived without him.
- Please Wake Up: Carl tries to wake up his father, who went unconscious while recovering from his wounds, to no effect, and is forced to draw three walkers away from the house to protect him.
- P.O.V. Cam: From Michonne's perspective as she looks around at the walkers following her.
- Product Placement: When Carl enters the children's bedroom in the abandoned house, he discovers a big-screen television with an Xbox 360 Elite underneath it. Ironically, the episode itself leaked a day early on the Xbox Live service.
- Reality Ensues: In a moment of bravado after telling his comatose father off, Carl tries to bumrush the locked front door of an abandoned house after going off on his own to explore... and smacks futilely against the door, getting knocked down to the ground.
- Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: Michonne puts down Hershel's decapitated (and reanimated) head after seeing the destroyed prison. She later does the same to the pack of walkers moving with her in the forest.
- Scarily Competent Tracker: Michonne is able to track Rick and Carl's footprints to the house they're staying at.
- Sanity Slippage: Michonne gets this after seeing the destroyed prison, lapsing into a flashback about her previous life and talking to herself while she's tracking the footprints.
- Shout-Out: When Carl is escaping from the Walker in the bedroom a pile of books blocks his attempt to shut the door. The only one with a clearly-visible title is Cold Days by Jim Butcher.
- Staking the Loved One: Michonne to the decapitated Hershel.
- Talking to the Dead: Michonne talks to her dead boyfriend.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: After Carl dispatches the walkers trying to get into the house, the camera stays on him as vomits in front of them.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Carl calls out his father, in a truly epic rant, for trying to ignore the apocalypse in favor of trying to build a community within the prison, and accuses him of not being able to save many of the people who died over the course of the series. He later realizes he was too harsh on his father, though.