Tell-tale signs that autumn is here: football takes over your entire weekend, pumpkins are everywhere, and The Walking Dead returns to Sunday nights on AMC. Last season’s ending paid off with the promised showdown between Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln) group of survivors taking shelter in the prison and the followers of the overzealous Governor (David Morrissey), but for many, the season three finale’s open ending did not bring the definitive closure that fans many fans were looking for. Will season four attempt to right those perceived wrongs while still staying true to the story they’ve created so far? Well, the premiere, “30 Days Without an Accident” certainly stays honest with respect to the events of last season and isn’t afraid to move forward by exploring a new deadly threat. Hit the jump for my recap and review.
The aftermath of the season three finale left Rick’s group as the victors, but at a heavy cost. The prison crew absorbed the remaining townspeople of Woodbury and apparently put them to work: clearing out more of the prison cells, helping to tend the gardens, rotating shifts on Walker watch and Walker killing, the usual. The good thing about this new population infusion is that viewers get to meet a bunch of new faces, and the show’s writers get to come up with a whole new list of conflicts for Rick and the gang. (*Important note: This will be the first season that yours truly has no prior knowledge from the comics. It seems that the show is getting further and further away from the source material, but I’m sure there will still be some sort of connective tissue.)
The season premiere opted to reacquaint viewers with the central characters and their relationships after a bit of time had passed since the showdown with the Governor. While the prison appears to be in better shape now, with reinforced gates and a prosperous garden, their home, like the characters themselves, still bear the scars of the violent battle. Rick seems to be the one most affected by recent events (and who can blame him), but Beth (Emily Kinney) has turned surprisingly cold and numb in the post-apocalyptic world. More on each of them in a moment, but let’s take a look at the premiere’s events through the show’s various relationships.
Ain’t they just the cutest? It’s nice to see that these two are still flirting even as the world around them slowly dies. Daryl (Norman Reedus) is his usual badass self, earning a bit of legendary status with some of the new faces, including Zach (Kyle Gallner) and Patrick (Vincent Martella). While Daryl does his usual part to save the day by killing Walkers at just the right time, Carol (Melissa McBride) is up to some survival training of her own as she schools a bunch of new kids in the art of handling deadly knives. Patrick gets a bit queasy at that suggestion, which does not bode well for the future of the group …
Glenn and Maggie
Glenn (Steven Yeun) continues to be overprotective of Maggie (Lauren Cohan), which is understandable given the events of season three, although Maggie has proven to be quite capable in taking care of herself. As for the question of whether or not she was pregnant, the show answered that one pretty quickly with a resounding, “No.” Glenn reacted a bit too happily upon hearing that news, but Maggie reassured him that she’s confident they could raise a child together, even in this world. It seems Glenn will take a bit more convincing on that front …
It feels like Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman) is still being worked into the main storylines, along with his younger sister, Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), who is basically the badass female version of Daryl at this point. A relatively new relationship is heating up between Tyreese and Karen (Melissa Ponzio), who appeared in four episodes last season and looks to be here for the duration in season four.
Beth and Zach
While Zach seemed like a go-getter and an asset to the group, his affection toward Beth was received rather coolly. As Zach met his demise in the liquor store, I suppose you could say Beth made the right decision in distancing herself from any romantic entanglements, but will it affect her more in the long run? Time will tell.
Rick and Miscellaneous
Rick remains the central character in The Walking Dead, but at this point in time, he’s sort of floating around the world without a central purpose. Sure he’s learning gardening techniques from Hershel (Scott Wilson), trying to be a father and a friend to Carl (Chandler Riggs) and flirting with Michonne (Danai Gurira) – who is still scouring the woods for The Governor, by the way – but Rick is a wanderer; so much so, in fact, that a completely random Irish woman was introduced in this episode (and promptly tossed away) to serve as a mirror to Rick’s own fractured sanity. I’m not entirely convinced she was real, to be honest. Hershel’s doing his best to be a sounding board for Rick and it’s clear that the rest of this newly-formed council is worried about him, but just how reliable is his judgement at the moment? Since Rick didn’t appear to have put a final end to either the recently-departed Irish crazy or her zombified husband, Eddie, perhaps we’ll see them again this season.
In addition to “crazy Irish woman” and dearly departed Zach, we also met Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.), whose usefulness remains to be seen. Glenn vouched for him joining the raiding party, since Bob was apparently a medic in the army, but as Bob literally caused Walkers to fall from the sky and brought a building down on top of the group’s heads (and killed poor Zach), we’ll have to wait and see if he repays his debts. Perhaps his medical expertise will be put to the test in upcoming episodes, especially considering the real threat facing the group this season is likely to be the increasing virulence of the Walker disease, as evidenced by Patrick’s ill-fated shower scene at the episode’s close.
Rating: B – A nice welcome back episode with a fun action sequence and some creative zombie-work, but Rick’s meanderings have me worried for the future.
Zombie Kills: ~47 give or take (22 at the fences, the rest in the wine and beer store)
Human Enemy Kills: 0
Casualties: Zach, all because of Bob. Way to go, Bob!
Best Kill: The Walkers splattering when they fell through the roof was a nice touch, but the combo-kill goes to Bob’s fingers in the brains of a Walker and Daryl’s stomp to end it.
Best Effect: Hanging Walker from the skylight and Walkers falling through the ceiling, easily. Fun stuff!
I love that Michonne brought Rick an electric razor. Will a simple shave and a hair cut restore Rick Grimes’ sanity?
Michonne: “I found this. Your face is losin’ the war.”
Hershel on Farmer Rick: “We do have to find you a pair of overalls, you need to look the part. A little piece of wheat out of the corner of your mouth. Maybe a bigger ass.”
Hershel: “Rick, we want you to be safe. Bring your gun.”
Crazy Irish Woman: “Wait, please! Please help me!”
Rick: “Look, I don’t know you, but I’ll tell you this: If you try anything … anything, you’re gonna be the one who loses.”
Zach guessing Daryls previous occupation: “Homicide cop.” Michonne laughs.
Daryl: “What’s so funny? The man’s right. Undercover. I don’t like to talk about it. Heavy shit.”
Michonne beheading the zombie cardboard standee might be the funniest thing the show’s done in a while.
Shout out to Georgia breweries: SweetWater and Terrapin!
Rick: “How many Walkers have you killed?
Crazy Irish Woman: “I think I killed them all, until…”
Rick: “How many people have you killed?”
Crazy Irish Woman: “Just me.”
Crazy Irish Woman: “You don’t get to come back, you don’t get to come back from this. You don’t…”
Glenn to Maggie on raising a child: “Being afraid is what’s kept us alive.”
Maggie: “No, it’s how we kept breathin’.”
Be sure to tells us what you thought of the season four premiere by posting in the comments below! The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights at 9pm ET on AMC.