After the explosive attack on the prison by the Governor and his forces, The Walking Dead has returned to deal with the aftermath. The mid-season premier begins seconds after the final ended. The walls of the prison have been torn down and the zombies poured into the once secure community forcing the survivors to spread out in several directions in order to escape. Rick and Carl, without the missing baby Judith, stumble down the road away from the prison. Rick still bears the wounds and welts from his fist fight with the Governor, and is struggling just to remain conscious.
With walkers nipping at their heels, Rick and Carl break into a diner to look for supplies. Carl is angry and tries to assert himself, but Rick is determined to protect his son. Inside, they find a walker barricaded behind some furniture and Rick, ever the planner, tries to kill it with an ax and save the ammunition. Rick, however, is soon overcome by his injuries, and Carl is forced to shoot the zombie in the head. Rick used to fight off hordes of walkers, and now he is too weak to take out one.
Rick and Carl continue their slow march down a country road until they find an abandoned house and eagerly take shelter. The next morning Carl tries to wake his father, but is unable to, suggesting that Rick’s injuries are far more series than initially seemed. Carl’s yelling attracts nearby walkers, and the teenager is forced to lure the zombies away from the house and kill them, almost getting bit in the process. Carl unloads at his comatose father, angry at his failure to protect the prison, and his wife and baby daughter.
Carl, determined to prove himself, heads to a nearby house in search of food. On the second floor, Carl is surprised by a walker behind a door and, for the second time in the span of an hour, almost becomes zombie food. He locks the walkers inside the bedroom, losing a shoe in the process, and carves a triumphant message into the door. In celebration of his victory, Carl sits on the roof and eats chocolate pudding, gazing across his new neighborhood. He returns to the first house and finds his father stirring, and making the characteristic zombie gasps. Carl prepares to shoot his father, until Rick exhibits a sense of perfect timing and calls out his name.
Character Spotlight: Michonne
The other plot line featured in the episode follows Michonne as she deals with the destruction of the prison. In the immediate aftermath of the battle she reclaims her katana and stumbles through the field of bodies. She finds the reanimated head of the slain Herschel, and plunges her sword into the zombiefied remains, signaling that the world they had constructed at the prison has truly come to an end.
She lures two walkers into the now useless spiked barricade in front of the prison gates, and lets them impale themselves. She cuts off their arms and jaws, essentially neutering them, and ties ropes around their necks like leashes. Mimicking the two zombies she had when Andrea first found her at the end of season two. She wanders the fields, heading away from the prison, using the smell of the pet zombies to keep the other walkers away.
The next sequence finds Michonne pre-zombie outbreak at home with her boyfriend and his best friend. She entertains in a fancy dress, and they discuss the merits of various artists, a far cry from the harden warrior the audience is familiar with. The scene becomes darker and darker, and sees the introduction of her young son as the outbreak draws near. Michonne suddenly sees the two others with their arms cut off and her son gone, before she jolts awake IN A BRAND NEW HYUNDAI AVAILABLE AT YOUR LOCAL DEALER. With the dream fresh in her mind, Michonne attacks a walker horde, beheading every single one, until she kills her new pet zombies as well. Alone, she finds the country road and follows the footprints of Rick and Carl. She finds the neighborhood and spots Rick and Carl in the house, and breaks down with emotion.
When Michonne first entered the series, she was cold and hardened, a survivor in the truest sense of the world. Now that the prison has fallen, and her companions are dead or scattered across the area, Michonne tries to return to her previous solitary life. Her neutered zombies are example of her former self, and her slaying of them represents rejection of this previous life. She lost her family in the zombie outbreak, and became solitary as her way to survive the horrors of daily life. She became attached to the prison community, against her better judgement, and now finds that even though she can survive the walker filled world alone, she no longer wants to survive alone.