[WARNING: This story contains major spoilers from Sunday's midseason return of The Walking Dead. Read at your own risk!]
It wasn't long before at least a few of the scattered survivors found their way back to each other during Sunday's The Walking Dead. But those who did reunite were put through the paces first.
As Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Carl (Chandler Riggs) struggled to find safety after the fall of the prison in the midseason finale, Carl learned a very important lesson: No matter how much he wants to be treated like an adult, he can't survive alone in this world. After losing his shoe to a walker who nearly got a bite of him, Carl all but gave up on surviving when he thought Rick actually died and turned into a zombie.
"What you have to recognize is that a lot of what you're seeing in Carl is actually projection from a child that wants to be taken seriously, that wants to be considered an adult, that wants to be part of the group that is respected," executive producer Robert Kirkman tells TVGuide.com. "While he may seem very capable, very mature and that he's going down this extremely dark path, that's just something that he is almost pretending at times to be strong. He is still very much a child. He hasn't quite reached that point of adulthood yet."
Thankfully, Rick is still alive. But unfortunately for Carl, Rick has not quite hit rock bottom yet, so son will need to continue to protect father from the horrors of this new world — a world that has already claimed his wife Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) and also possibly his daughter Judith. "Anyone who has read the comic book series knows that there's definitely some more gut punches on the road ahead for him," Kirkman says. "While this is the lowest point he's reached in the series thus far, this is a tough world. I don't think Rick Grimes is going to be relaxing anytime soon."
The good news is that Rick and Carl have been reunited with Michonne (Danai Gurira), who went through her own trial by fire after being separated from those she has come to love. "Michonne was alone for a long time and she did not enjoy that," Kirkman says. "That's why she latched on to the group the way that she did. In much the same way that Daryl [Norman Reedus] did, she became very invested in the safety and security in the prison. That's why she was the one that continued to try to hunt down The Governor [David Morrissey] to make sure he couldn't come back and do the thing that he did. Her main fear is that she was going back into that period of aloneness and what that meant to her was losing her humanity."
Cracking under the pressure of being alone, Michonne experienced dreams that gave viewers insight in the Katana-wielding heroine's past. "You can never completely trust the things you see in a dream sequence," Kirkman says. "It did seem to reveal a lot of flashback-type stuff. But as far as Michonne's story goes, there is much more yet to be revealed. Flashbacks or not, you will be finding out quite a bit about all of these characters, who they are and what makes them tick as we see them put through their paces."
Now that the trio is back together, will they set out to find the rest of the group? "It's entirely possible that now that they found each other in a safe place, that's really the name of the game," Kirkman teases. "Leaving that house in order to try and find other people that may or may not be dead isn't a practical decision to make in this world. We could see them setting up camp in this house."
What did you think of The Walking Dead's midseason return?
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.