Shield your eyes if you’re afraid of seeing Hershel’s zombie head (complete with whispy white hair and strangley beautiful icy opaque eyes) – because ‘The Walking Dead’ season 4 picked up without pulling any punches.

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Michonne picked up a couple of new pets. Photo: AMC

This episode focused on three main characters: Michonne, Carl, and Rick. We don’t know the whereabouts of anyone else. Everyone scattered after the attack from The Governor. And some people, like baby Judith, are MIA. (Dead, zombie, safe on the bus?)

The story with Michonne (Danai Gurira)

Finally, we got to know about Michonne’s life before the walkers. We saw this via her…mind/dream (not a flashback) that she wasn’t always used to being alone. In fact, she had a young son, a lover, and another close friend. She also used to live in a fancy place, and wear bright, sexy clothes. It was a whole other side of Michonne. (Many of us have guessed she might have had a kid, and now we know. We also know that these two guys became her pets. (RIP the Aldis Hodge cameo, see you on ‘Leverage’!)

Our katana-wielder is alone. She walks with her new pets, trying to look at tracks and reconnect with someone. All the while, the emphasis is on how tired and alone she is.

She looses it in one scene, killing an entire pack of walkers all around her. Even her pets. She doesn’t want to see any walkers.

So, back to the tracks in the mud. She wanders around. She gets emotional. She thinks about the past. And, somehow…magically… she finds some friends. (Read on to see what happens.)

The story with Carl and Rick (Chandler Riggs, Andrew Lincoln )

Though his father is incredibly worse for wear (limping slowly,) Carl has very little compassion for him. As the pair walk down a road (somewhat aimlessly) Carl doesn’t slow down when his father asks. Carl also has no patience to hear his father say that “Everything is going to be…” Nope. Carl doesn’t want to hear that. He’s being an angry teen who wants to be in charge, and feels useless and emotionally destroyed. Their home and family is now destroyed/scattered. He blames his Dad for a lot of how that went down. And his baby sister, the last thing he has of his Mother’s, is very possibly dead.

Carl is now in his emo phase.  If only the boy had a My Chemical Romance CD. (I’m so hip that I had to google “emo bands” just to make sure that was right.)

As he and his father move about town, Carl and Rick fight over who’s in charge. Rick is used to protecting his son (or at least…uh, trying to) and he’s also used to being the man in charge – even when there’s other adults his age around. He’s always the defacto leader. But he’s also extremely injured and weak. So Carl, naturally, wants to take control. This leads to tension.

During all of this, Carl seems like a bit of a brat, even if you can understand his point.

Rick finally passes out on a couch. When Carl wakes up the next morning, he has a nearly typical teenage morning. He puts dry cereal in a bowl and uses a spoon to eat breakfast. Though there’s no Saturday morning cartoons (and though he misses video games and starred at the TV longingly, he yanked out the cords to use them to tie a knot for the door) there is a typical teenager’s room. And Carl makes himself at home, imagining what his room could have been like if he’d grown up and gotten to be one of those teenagers he’d always dreamed about being.)

Then. Things get weird.

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Carl can’t seem to get Rick awake. Rick doesn’t even flinch when Carl yells in his face. Deciding his Dad is just sleeping, Carl goes out to collect supplies. He gets into some close calls with walkers. And he also takes his little victorys where he can. (Re: His door note of “Walker got my shoe, but didn’t get me.”) With chocolate pudding, Carl sits out on a roof looking over a Suburban neighborhood that is fairly quiet. Well, although there’s a walker groaning and reaching for him from inside a second story room. Even with all of that, this is a serene scene. (Carl finally got a day to really do whatever he wanted to do. He probably didn’t even know what to do with himself. He’s structured to make every moment useful…not to play or relax.) It was really rewarding to see him take that moment for himself, and find some happiness in a day that was otherwise terrifying. (It’s a good reminder for us all to have.)

When Carl returns to the house he and Rick had been staying in, he rants at his Dad about how well he’s doing and how his Dad is to blame for everything. Everyone’s dead, and it’s Rick’s fault. Rick doesn’t move. He looks dead. Carl doesn’t seem to recognize this. At this point, viewers started to wonder if Rick really was dead (coma?) from dying in his sleep (and how brave it would be to kill off the main character!) and Carl is just going to be totally in denial and crazy about it all.

The only question is…if Rick is dead, why hasn’t he turned into a zombie? Does he have some immunity? Is he in a coma and therefore not dead yet?

Well, it turns out that just as Rick is flailing around and seems like a walker…he’s not. But Carl also realizes he can’t kill his zombie Dad, and surrenders to the idea of being eaten alive. (Talk about feeling defeated and not wanting to be alone.)

But Rick is fine. He sits up. He’s just been exhausted.

Rick and Carl bond and talk and things start to feel better.

Then Michonne knocks on the door.

Rick and Carl are worried. It’s a human (zombies don’t knock) but …who? As they scramble and get their guns ready, Rick checks the peep hole.

“It’s for you,” he says to Carl.

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Carl employs a new technique to trick walkers. Photo: AMC

The Walking Dead Review Notes

When do you think Carol will be back?

Did you think, at any point, that Rick might really be dead?

Who do you think we’ll find next? Daryl and Beth? Glenn and Maggie?

Anyone else have a “huh” moment in figuring out how the long katana went into the short butcher’s block? (Dreamstate merge!)

This episode was exhausting, and I literally lay on my stomach, starfished on the floor when it ended. (Cause I’m dramatic like that.) But I wouldn’t have it any other way. Join me next week for another recap of ‘The Walking Dead.’