The mid-season finale of The Walking Dead concluded on a grim note with the father figure to all the survivors, Hershel, getting savagely murdered. Upon the destruction of the prison, the survivors find themselves out in the wild and separated. Tonight, the long-awaited final eight episodes will kick off on AMC at 9 p.m. after more than a two-month-long wait. These back-end episodes will introduce some fan favorite characters from the comics to The Walking Dead, along with a new format which will put the emotions of existing characters under a microscope.
Robert Kirkman, the executive producer of The Walking Dead, told The Hollywood Reporter that these last eight episodes of season 4 will have a more experimental format to them. Some episodes will focus on one group of survivors, while another will focus on multiple groups or all of them at once. The different groups leads to plenty of questions regarding current character relationships and how new, debuting characters will affect the show.
Tonight’s mid-season premiere will focus strictly on Rick and his son Carl. Portrayed by 14-year-old Chandler Riggs, the kid’s character arc took an interesting turn in the first half of season 4. Carl has become a cold and callous individual, indifferent to the playfulness of the fellow youth at the prison. Though it took a while, Rick finally came around to accept his son’s maturity and, as a blessing, he let him have his own gun. This grownup Carl is angry after having witnessed not only the slaughter of Hershel, but the disappearance of his sister, baby Judith, who is presumed to be dead. Being out in the wild, it will be interesting to see how Rick balances out caring for himself, while handling his son who is now devoid of all youthful innocence.
Another young member on the team is Beth. In the season 4 Walking Dead premiere, 30 Days Without an Accident, a resolute Beth tells Daryl she does not cry anymore after he informs her of the death of her short-lived boyfriend. Naturally, they would find themselves paired up following the destruction of the prison, and this time around Beth had just lost her father and watched him murdered in brutal fashion. Watching her cope and grow out of the trauma could add some likeability to a character fans want to see dead. Daryl, who was always the strongest survivor in the group, both physically and emotionally, is the perfect character to help Beth tap into that supposed new-found strength. Both characters could profoundly benefit from this new, character-driven format.
One of the more interesting story arcs heading into the final episodes of Walking Dead is that of Tyrese and the death of his girlfriend, Karen. A guilty Carol revealed to Rick in episode 4, Indifference, that she was the culprit; Rick then banished her from the group in anger and fear of what Tyrese would do if he found out. Carol should show up in the storyline involving Tyrese, who is out in the wild with the group of children who saved him during the prison battle. Ironically, those children learned how to shoot a gun and were motivated not to be afraid in life-or-death situations by Carol, adding another reason why she will show up in this storyline.
Other main survivors include Glenn, last seen in a bus with a bunch of no-name survivors. He is separated from his girlfriend Maggie, who finds herself in a trio with alcoholic, Bob, and sister of Tyrese, Sasha. In the previews, Maggie is one mean and angry woman having just witnessed the death of her father, Hershel. The popular Michonne is also back to being a lone wolf. Michonne achieved her goal of exacting revenge on The Governor in the mid-season finale, but only after witnessing Hershel get decapitated right beside her. Over the course of the past two seasons, Michonne has grown from the stoic warrior to a very vulnerable and emotional human being.
On top of these existing character arcs, The Walking Dead will see Michael Cuditz as Abraham, Christian Serratos as Rosita, Josh McDermitt as Eugene and Andrew J. West as Gareth all make their debuts on the show. The latter is a mystery as he does not appear in the source material, but Abraham is a fan favorite. The tough army sergeant and gym coach made an impactful debut in the comics by saving Glenn; this will probably be repeated in the show, as viewers have not been introduced to any of the survivors Glenn is in the bus with. Serratos as Rosita will add some much-needed eye candy to the show, while McDermitt as Eugene looks like he’ll add some humor, which is sorely missing from The Walking Dead. All three are set to debut in next weekend’s episode, Inmates.
With a new format as promised by Kirkman, new change of scenery and the introduction of new characters, it is a good day to be a Walking Dead fan. However, tonight’s episode will only focus on Rick and Carl, which may be a disappointment to the fans who are more curious about other character arcs. After, the first of eight episodes of the last half of The Walking Dead, airs at 9 p.m. on AMC tonight.
By Kollin Lore