With her Walker bodyguards in tow, Michonne hits the road, if you can call a muddy path a road. She notices footprints, which we know to be Rick and Carl's footprints from earlier in the episode. But she forgoes them, choosing instead to push on into the forest. This is how we first met Michonne back in the second season finale, a mysterious, savvy survivor who decidedly walks her own path.
What follows is a major insight into the mysteries of Michonne. We see her (in a skirt!) cutting cheese and critiquing art with two men sitting by a stylish glass table. One of the men is Mike, her boyfriend or "lover." The other is a close friend, presumably Mike's best friend Terry. The memory shifts into a dream as her cheese-cutting knife turns into her signature katana. A cute little boy runs into her arms — he is her son. This helps explain her emotional reaction to holding Judith in "Infected." With her son in tow, she sets down the cheese and crackers as Mike and Terry(?) shift into their early Zombiepocalypse selves. Terry (Let's just call him that for now) wants to leave the camp, but Mike is hesitant. He questions whether it is safe to leave and attempt to survive in the new, dangerous world. He asks some of the most important questions circling the characters of The Walking Dead — "Does it even matter anymore?" "Where's the happy ending?" "Why?" I'm comfortable with my answer: Because then we wouldn't have a popular TV series, that's why! Plus, happy endings are overrated.
Suddenly, her son disappears from Michonne's dream/memory. Mike and Terry are revealed to be her original Walker shields. She screams in terror — only to awake in her car shelter. Back in the forest, Michonne joins a small herd of Walkers unaware of her presence. In the herd is a similarly dreadlocked Walker who could be mistaken as her undead doppelgänger. Undetected by the Walkers, what makes her any different from the Walkers?
She stares down her undead lookalike, clearly shaken by its presence. This is not the life she wants. Starting with her doppelgänger, she slaughters all the Walkers in her herd, including her guards. With every strike, she yelps "No!" -- rejecting her solitary fate. Danai Gurira proves that she can convey layers of inner turmoil and still be a BAMF.
Soon after, Michonne returns to the muddy road and follows the tracks of (hopefully) live people to Joe and Joe Jr’s BBQ Shack. Seeing Joe Jr's note, she crouches to the ground and is compelled to talk to Mike. She admits to him — and more importantly herself — that she misses him and their son. If she has survived, then there's a chance they could have, too. She still can't quite bring herself to talk much about her son, instead focusing on Mike. She cryptically states, "That wasn't you who did it."(Did Mike turn into a Walker and kill their son?) Although her son's fate is unclear, she concludes that she has an answer to Mike's question.
Cut to: Rick and Carl — alive and clearing the air. Father and son reconcile as Rick recognizes Carl as a man. (Well, I don't know about that. He isn't a helpless child anymore, I guess.) On an abandoned suburban street, Michonne finds an large, empty tin of chocolate pudding. She warily approaches a nearby house to find a family. Not the family with which she started out or for which she dreams, but her family nonetheless. Startled by knocks at the door, Rick spies through the peep hole. He laughs and wheezes, telling Carl, "It's for you." Carl regains a lost role model, and Michonne reunites with a lost family. Plus, Rick gets someone who can properly clean and dress his wounds. (Eyes don't normally look like that! Lungs work better when ribs aren't puncturing them!)
Walker of the week: Several of the more prominent Walkers this episode show hints of their former lives and relationships. Nonetheless, the most striking image of the undead is Hershel's zombified head. RIP Hershel.
Questions to consider:
How are the other characters faring? Could we lose any more beloved characters this season?
Are the fractured groups The Walking Dead the new normal or just a feature of the rest of this season? Will our favorite characters never reunite just like the Starks of Game of Thrones?
Where's baby Judith? Was she picked up by anyone, or is she really dead?
I know I keep harping on this point, but I don't care. It bugs me. Who is the Walker Feeder and why, oh why, did someone vivisect that rat?
Is it too premature to see hints of a possible Rick-Michonne pairing in the horizon?
What happened to Michonne's son?
Is Michonne's answer to Mike's question sufficient enough for you, if you were forced into a Zombiepocalypse?
For more "After" thoughts, check out Darren Franich's midseason premiere review.