So that happened … now what? The Walking Dead Season 4, Episode 8 left Team Prison without a prison. Not only are our intrepid characters homeless, grieving, and on the run, they are scattered in half a dozen different directions. Not only that, there are some Governor people out there that we may or may not see again. Will Tara join a group? What about Lilly?
We have a thousand different questions, and hopefully at least a few will be answered when Episode 9 premieres Sunday, February 9 at 9 p.m. ET on AMC. The title was recently revealed to be "After," and here's the official synopsis: "Rick deals with old wounds while members of the prison try to accept their new environment."
Here’s what we know about Ep 9 at this point:
Robert Kirkman, who wrote the comic books and executive produces the AMC show, wrote Episode 9, and a while back he told AMC, “Episode 9 will probably be the episode that’s closest to a direct adaptation from the comic book aside from the premiere episode. It’s been a lot of fun for me working on them because I’m basically just rewriting something I’ve already written, which means I get to go back in and go, ‘Woah, what’d you do there? Let’s fix that.'"
We know Episode 9 will feature mostly Michonne (Danai Gurira), Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs), with Michonne separated from them, but in the same area since the promos have shown them all visiting the same restaurant, just at different times. They may reunite by the episode's end, which would fit with the comics.
A while back, Andrew Lincoln told TVLine Episode 9 would be a big showcase for Chandler/Carl. “[Carl] does something this season…. Man,” Andy teased, laughing. “Episode 9 is his episode. It’s so cool."
The first Episode 9 sneak peek showed Carl leading some walkers down a street. (He’s clearly mastered the art of walking backwards, unlike Lizzie.) Another sneak peek and two photos from this episode also show Carl interacting with walkers or sitting with his heavily beat-up father, Rick, who appears to be sleeping/passed out on a couch. What's the deal?
*Comic book spoilers ahead*
At this point in the books, the action basically starts with Michonne back at the prison, putting down the guy that was decapitated in the prison battle. In the comics, that was Tyreese; on TV, that was Hershel.
We're meant to see a flashback to Michonne's past in this episode, which should maybe tell us a bit about her history as a mother, or perhaps it will focus on the history of her original walker "pets" since an Ep 9 photo showed she has two more.
Meanwhile, in the books, Rick and Carl head to a store (maybe the bar/restaurant in the promos) to try and get supplies. Then they take shelter in a nearby house. Since Rick is an absolute mess, he takes a big dose of antibiotics and Carl finds him unconscious, which would fit with the promo below's "Wake up!" tease. Don't worry, Rick lives, but also in the comics, some walkers bang on the front door and Carl leads them away, just like in the sneak peeks. He feels a bit more independent ... for a while, anyway. He also blames Rick for the loss of Lori and Judith, who died in the comics during the prison battle.
It would make sense if TV Carl blamed Rick at least a little bit, since we saw Carl was willing to shoot The Governor himself, and Daryl told him to just trust Rick. Rick had to try for peace, even if it didn’t work! Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson) was proud of his attempt, you could see it.
Anyway, in the comics, Rick and Carl eventually run into Michonne, and then they find Glenn and Maggie (who are separated on TV). The survivors head back to the Greene family farm, where they meet three new people and they decide to hit the road together in an attempt to reach Washington, D.C. They eventually get to a place called the Alexandria Safe-Zone and we're wondering if there's a hint of that coming by the season finale, "A."
*End of comic book spoilers*
But what about Judith? Rick and Carl were in tears at the end of the mid-season finale, because they assumed baby Judy was dead. They should still have hope that she’s out there, having been scooped up by some Team Prison member (Tyreese?), but Andrew Lincoln told Entertainment Weekly they believe she's gone.
We'll see Rick at his very lowest point because of that loss, in addition to Hershel and the prison family itself. "And I think physically, in Episode 9, you’ll see a man who is frightened for the first time in a long, long time," Andy added to EW. "He’s frightened not for himself but for his son because he’s weak. He’s very, very weak and that makes him belligerent and aggressively challenging towards his son because he’s scared."
According to TV Guide, Carl loses something important to him this episode, which could mean any number of things. A couple of sites got to see the episode in advance and they warned that it's not the most exciting hour in TWD history ... but we're still expecting to love it for its character focus.
Where does Team Prison go from here? “I can't say,” showrunner Scott Gimple told The Hollywood Reporter. “If you know the comic, there are a lot of differences from the comic that we do and a lot of differences that we have to do. There's going to be a lot of familiar stuff, brand new stuff and remixed stuff. There are some things where you will totally know them and hopefully be expecting them and then there will be stuff that's brand new that you have no idea if it's coming but it will circle around to moments from the comic. It's very much like these eight. Comic fans once again will absolutely see a lot of iconic moments.”
For those of us wondering where Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride) is, Scott did say Carol would “appear sooner or later” but he did not elaborate. “It could be a bit but could be a long bit but she will return at some point.”
However, we will get some answers. “We will absolutely find out more about the rats and the person who seemed to dissect that rabbit that Tyreese found in the tombs before The Governor showed up.” (Are we blaming Lizzie for that? If you can’t blame Carl, blame Lizzie. Or Bob.)
Scott also gave a general tease about the final eight episodes, which will have a “wildly different structure” from the first half. “It's a very different set of stories and it's very unlike the first half of the season. I can't say without giving stuff up, but it's very different. The same story priorities apply; there's a lot of character exploration but in a very different way. In some ways, the story moves quicker but in a really different manner. As soon as you see the first episode, you'll figure out why and how. Episode 10 has a super unusual structure that I'm very excited for people to see. It's very different than the first half.”
Speaking of Episode 10, that may be when we can expect to meet Sgt. Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz), Rosita Espinosa (Christian Serratos), and Dr. Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt). Tricia Brock, who directed Episode 10, told the Columbia Daily Tribune that Episode 10 will feature four different storylines and "some of the oddest couplings of groups you've seen" on the show. "There was violence, difficulty in dealing with one another, terror,” she added. “It's a very intimate episode. We see how these very odd groups were thrown together and how they deal with that."
Read more back-half teases here. You excited?
The Walking Dead Season 4 returns to AMC on February 9, 2014, at 9 p.m. ET.