"The Walking Dead" returned on Sunday evening, and with it came all the requisite bloodletting, brain-busting and pudding-eating that fans of the show have grown accustomed to.
OK, maybe the pudding part was new.
Here are nine of our burning questions after watching the Rick-, Carl- and Michonne-focused midseason premiere, titled "After."
1. Want to hear a "knock-knock" joke?: We'll skip right to the punch-line: "It's for you." Michonne's arrival at Rick and Carl's shelter, and the pure glee exhibited by badly beaten Rick, has to stand out as one of the weirdest, happiest moments "The Walking Dead" has ever offered up, right? It was a reminder that there's still some hope alive in this hopeless, dead world.
2. How much pudding can you eat?: Because 112 ounces seems like a lot for one person to stomach, even if he's a growing adolescent dealing with the pressures of puberty, not to mention a zombie apocalypse. If I was Rick, and I found out my son had eaten all that pudding without me ... let's just say, it wouldn't have been pretty.
3. Did Carl really "win" anything? Beyond the pudding, I think the answer is a resounding "no," based on his pathetic performance throughout the episode. Sure, he salvaged some food. Yeah, he killed and imprisoned a few walkers. But he fell down a lot, almost got killed a lot, cried a lot, and overall failed a lot. Call it "winning" all you want, Carl, as long as you mean it in the Charlie Sheen sense of the word.
4. Is Rick going to make it? Yeah, he's going to make it, but it's not going to be easy. Even now that Michonne is there to protect him, Rick is in rough shape, based on the deep wheezing, and the whole passing-out-and-sounding-like-a-zombie thing. It's bad news for Sheriff Grimes. He'll survive the season — it wouldn't be "The Walking Dead" without Rick in the lead, for better or worse — but it'll be a long road to recovery.
5. Did anyone else get "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" vibes from Michonne's dream sequence? It reminded me of Sarah Connor's "no fate" dream, where she watches Judgment Day consume toddler John and the world at large in a horrific display of napalm. It was an unusual scene by "Walking Dead" standards, but I love it when the show takes risks like that. All in all, it was one of my favorite scenes of the episode.
6. Is Michonne suffering from Rick Syndrome? As in, is she hallucinating? Who was she seeing on the walker field? Was that herself, zombified? A friend? A relative? Clearly, Michonne's experiencing her share of trauma, following the prison's destruction. The question is, has she recovered now that she's reconnected with Rick and Carl, or should we remain concerned for her mental well-being?
7. What happened to Michonne's child? To back up a bit, the show confirmed what had been teased earlier in the season: Michonne was a mother, and something horrible happened to her baby. It's safe to assume that the child died, as did her "lover" and friend (they were her original "pets," if I remember correctly), but I wonder if we'll find out all of the specifics of how Michonne's baby died, or if the show will just leave it there. I sort of hope it's the latter.
8. Can Rick, Carl and Michonne find the rest of their friends? I don't know about the rest of their friends, but certainly some. I'll eat Carl's hat if Rick and Daryl don't reunite by the end of the season. (I might just eat Carl's hat anyway. I'd be doing him a favor, and it's breakfast time.) But it might be a long time before any such reunion occurs. It feels as if the writers are committed to keeping the characters on the road, separated from one another, at least for a little while. We'll just have to wait and see. Speaking of waiting...
9. What's next? Patience, grasshopper! We're less than a week away from finding out. Nice to be back in the world of "Walking Dead" though, isn't it?
What were your big questions leaving last night's "Walking Dead" premiere?