AMC’s The Walking Dead went up against a new opponent when it returned from its mid-season hiatus: The Winter Olympics. But much like the hordes of zombies Michonne chopped to pieces during “After,” The Walking Dead did the same to the Winter Olympics in the ratings.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, The Walking Dead took first in the most coveted demographic as it went head-to-head with the Winter Olympics:
“Going up against the games for the first time,” the article reads. “The AMC drama is undeterred with a very strong mid-season premiere — besting NBC among adults 18-49.”
The Walking Dead mid-season premiere episode, titled “After,” follows the path of its three major characters, Michonne, Rick, and Carl as they face life post prison. On their own again after the agonizing events in the mid-season finale in December, the episode centered on Rick’s son Carl. Played by Chandler Riggs, “After” teetered between a Carl fully equipped to take care of himself if his father Rick were to go the way of the zombie and a petulant child faced with the horrible reality of life on his own.
At first Carl is self-sufficient, besting three zombies in battle (and almost getting bit in the process) after they come knocking on his and his father’s temporary hideaway. His takeaway came in the show’s most poignant moment when he screams at his unconscious father “I don’t need you.” But later on, Carl gets sloppy and is jumped by a zombie who almost finishes him off, but ends up settling for his shoe instead.
Fans of the Michonne Walking Dead‘s machete wielding hero meanwhile, got a look into her past, including the fact that before the zombies struck, she had a child. After escaping the prison remains she secures herself two new zombie slaves and walks off in search of the others. Plagued by memories of (presumably) her original zombie slaves, her lover and brother, and her life pre-zombies, Michonne must come to terms with her surviving on her own again. She nearly caves though, shredding a pack of zombies before offing her new slaves in the process. But in what amounts to a happy ending in the Walking Dead universe, she is reunited with Rick and Carl as the “After” comes to a close.
The Walking Dead‘s overall ratings performance for “After,” a staggering 15.8 million viewers, proves the zombie apocalypse series is showing no signs of slowing down in its fourth season. The Winter Olympics on the other hand may have been hampered by the perception that Sochi, Russia may not have necessarily been the most ideal spot to host the games. That and the fact that the Winter Olympics isn’t nearly as compelling as its summer counterpart may have played a role in The Walking Dead beating them in the ratings.