Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) is officially looking back in this new image from The Walking Dead Season 4, Episode 9, despite his father Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) telling him not to do so when they left the prison.
The last words of Episode 8, the December 1 midseason finale, were "Don't look back," and Rick's suggestion also headlines the poster for the second half. It’s also the title of AMC's most recent promo. But it’s hard to not look back, especially when the Grimes boys have lost everything — including (at least for now) baby Judith.
Rick got severely beat up in the battle with The Governor (David Morrissey), and we last saw him hobbling away from the prison wreckage. Carl is the one who'll have to "step up," since Rick is not feeling 100 percent, which is previewed in this photo.
What exactly is going on in the photo? Robert Kirkman — who wrote the original comic books and this particular episode — said Episode 9 would be a very close adaptation to the books.
In the books — specifically Issue 49 — the action actually starts with Michonne (Danai Gurira) slicing her katana through the decapitated head of … the guy who died in the comics. On TV it’s Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson), so it’s possible that’s what we’ll see at the start of Episode 9, then see her leaving the prison battle. But the hour will probably focus 90-99 percent on the Grimeses.
In the comics, Rick and Carl leave the prison and head into a local store for supplies. There are walkers inside and Rick tries to axe one in the head, which is hinted to in the latest promo (although maybe they’re in a bar on TV?). Carl has to shoot the walker when Rick lures it outside. They later hide in a house and Rick feels sick, taking a major dose of antibiotics. (That probably leads to the "Wake up! Wake up!" shout in another promo.)
While Rick is out of it, some walkers start banging on the house door. Carl leads them away from the house, which is what’s playing out in that sneak peek video released in December, and also what we see in this new still photo.
In the books, Rick and Carl eventually run into Michonne, so perhaps that’s what happens on TV, too. Maybe she tracks them away from the prison. We’ve been told that Episode 10 will follow four storylines with "some of the oddest couplings of groups you've seen" on the show. It’s very possible that’s when we’ll see the introduction of three major new characters, who are also from the comics: Sgt. Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz), Rosita Espinosa (Christian Serratos), and Dr. Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt).
At any rate, that’s a rough idea of what this photo might be telling us about Episode 9, leading us into a broader look at the Team Prison survival stories in Episode 10. Are you excited?
The Walking Dead Season 4 returns with Episode 9 on Sunday, February 9 at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.