“The Walking Dead” returned to AMC on Sunday, Feb. 9, with its midseason premiere, “After.” Fans may have been on a couple-months long break from the hit series, but episode 9 picked right up again following the Governor’s attack on the prison … and the death and destruction has definitely taken a toll on all.

“Walking Dead” viewers will remember that the prison survivors were separated into six groups at the end of the midseason finale – Group 1: Michonne; Group 2: Rick and Carl; Group 3: Glenn and the bus of sick survivors; Group 4: Maggie, Bob and Sasha; Group 5: Daryl and Beth; and Group 6: Tyreese and the kids. No one knows who survived and who died in the struggle, and fans will have to keep waiting to find out because episode 9 only focused on two groups – Michonne and her new pets, and Rick and Carl.

Hershel’s Head And New Pets

Michonne may have saved Rick from the Governor, but the two split up when Rick went to search for Carl and Judith. Unfortunately they didn’t meet back up, and Michonne was forced to deal with the traumatic events all by herself.

In order to cope and survive, Michonne took two of the Governor’s zombified guys and chopped off their arms and jaws to make them into her new “pets” (like the ones she had when she was introduced in the season 2 finale). Leaving the prison behind, Michonne had to do one last thing … drive her katana through Hershel’s severed zombie head.

Two Paths

Rick and Carl took off to search for shelter and food. And even though the two are alive, they are both in bad shape. Carl is angry with his father over the death of Hershel and (possible death of) Baby Judith; and Rick is badly injured and emotionally beat up over the deaths.

After some arguing between the father and son, they find some supplies in an old bar and seek refuge in an abandoned house. Michonne spots their footprints in the mud but doesn’t follow them. Instead she heads into the woods with her pets, and begins to walk alongside a pack of zombies … almost in a sleepwalking state.

Carl’s Journey (To Pudding)

Carl takes his anger out on Rick by acting reckless and talking about Shane (“Remember him?”). Rick takes Carl’s jabs in stride as the two settle into the house for the night. But in the morning, Rick won’t wake up, and Carl uses that opportunity to act like a tough guy (by almost getting killed by three walkers), and rip into his dad some more.

“I saved you,” Carl yells at an unconscious Rick. “I still know how to survive … I don’t need you anymore. I don’t need you to protect me anymore … you couldn’t protect Judith, Hershel … you just wanted to plant vegetables … now you’re nothing … I’d be fine if you died.”

Abandoning his dad in the house, Carl takes off to search for more food and supplies. With only a few bullets remaining, the teenager uses an outdoor pathway light as a weapon and breaks into another neighborhood house. Inside he finds canned goods and other foods … including a 112 ounce can of pudding.  

The pudding is a symbol to the viewer that despite his hard outer shell, Carl is still a kid. But unfortunately, Carl doesn’t realize that. Opening doors upstairs in the house, Carl is knocked down by a walker and immediately wastes his few remaining bullets trying to kill the zombie. After a close bite and a stolen shoe, Carl manages to lock the walker in a bedroom again. Believing that he has “won” another round, Carl celebrates his victory by cracking open the tub of pudding and sitting on the roof of the house to enjoy his treat.

Michonne’s Past

“Walking Dead” fans have viewed Michonne has a force to be reckoned with, but an earlier episode in season 4 teased that she had a rough past. Episode 9 explored her pre-zombie life in a dream/nightmare. In the vision fans can see that Michonne used to live in a beautiful home with her toddler son. The dream featured her lover, Mike, and a mutual friend named Terry. The three were having a playful discussion while Michonne held her baby, but that discussion became darker as the dream turned into a nightmare. While the whole sequence took place in the kitchen of Michonne’s home, Mike and Terry’s nice clothing eventually turned into dark post-apocalyptic survival-like attire and the talk turned to that of survival. By the end of the nightmare the two men were sitting at the table with their arms severed.

Hershel’s death and the loss of her friends and shelter triggered Michonne’s memories of her past. And the tough katana wielding survivor caved into her depression over losing it all. Acting like a zombie amongst the pack she was in, Michonne spotted a walker that looked eerily similar to her and that triggered something else – the desire to live.

Snapping out of her sleepwalking like state, Michonne sliced and diced with her katana until all the walkers amongst her were dead – including her two new pets. With a reason to live again, Michonne headed back in the direction of the footsteps to search for her fellow survivors.

Zombie Rick

Despite not “needing” Rick, Carl returns to the house that he left his dad in. Still unconscious, Carl sits by his feet and waits. But Carl’s tough guy act disappears quick when Rick wakes up … like a walker. Not speaking, Rick proceeds to move and make noises like one of the dead. A scared Carl pulls out his gun but can’t pull the trigger, telling his dad that he “can’t” and was “wrong.”

Fortunately Carl will have time to work on his relationship with his dad because Rick speaks, revealing that he’s not a walker. “Carl, don’t go outside,” he tells his son. “Stay safe.”

“I’m scared,” Carl tells his dad.

Knock, Knock. Who’s There?

With Rick finally conscious, he discovers that Carl went outside without him. And while Rick is upset that his son risked his life, he’s grateful that they have more food.

“I found even more,” Carl tells him of the 112 ounce can of pudding. “But I ate it.”

Rick apologizes for not protecting Carl and Judith more, and for not being able to get thing back to the way they used to be. Carl tells his dad that he doesn’t need to be sorry, and it seems like the two are mending their broken relationship. But their heart-to-heart is interrupted by a knock on the door. Following the empty can of pudding in the road, Michonne finds the father and son. Looking through the peephole, Rick tells Carl that “it’s for you.”

What did you think of the midseason premiere of “The Walking Dead”? Let us know in the comments section or send a tweet to @AmandaTVScoop.

walking dead Michonne found two more pets in episode 9, "After." Photo: Gene Page/AMC