The most anticipated series of the recent decade returns to AMC just in time for Halloween. The Walking Dead makes its brutal and violent return to the small-screen with a solid Season 4 premiere. The show has received universal praise throughout its course despite the fact that last year’s season was subpar at best. With a wide array of different writers taking the reigns on different episodes, the quality of the show has dipped, then risen, then kind of back to being half-way decent. Last night’s premiere, however, shows a ton of potential and looks very promising to what this season has to offer. If the writers can remain consistent with the new elements that they have presented to us, then we could very well be witnessing the beginning of a fantastic season.
Before we dive into the new episode, let’s briefly discuss last season. Every season of this show always starts off with a bang. Out of three seasons so far, two out of the three ended on such a high note and had a heavy impact on me personally that I absolutely could not wait for the new episodes to premiere. Season 3, however, did not get me hyped for Season 4. It introduced a lot of really intriguing elements to the story, including the idea of a perfect haven to shield the people from the ugly truth, the Governor being the face of humanity’s future but keeping his infected daughter alive, using a prison as a means of survival and most importantly, Rick dealing with the loss of Lori. But somewhere along the middle and towards the end, these ideas were simply not executed properly. Andrea was another big problem to the story. She was so incredibly fickle and her story along with her love interest with the Governor was way too predictable. The audience knew that he was an immoral human, so when Andrea wants to start a relationship with him, it obviously can’t end well. Her being on both sides of the argument at different times was annoying. Am I supposed to root for her even when we know she’s making a mistake? Was it supposed to build some kind of redemption for her later on to make up for said mistake? And talk about cliché moment after cliché moment. When the Governor finally establishes himself as the main villain, the writers purposely have a scene where his eye gets stabbed just so he could wear an eye-patch along with his black coat. Many of the characters became too cookie-cutter and very well could have been in any other show that deals with an apocalypse. Then of course, we have the fan-favorite character, Daryl. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great character and almost every time he’s on-screen, you know we’re about to see something epic. But I could do without his cool, black leather-jacket, his perfectly long-hair, the unnecessarily loud poncho that he wore for a few episodes, the weaker characters essentially bowing down to him (Patrick) and overall just appearing too Hollywood to be in a zombie apocalypse. To sum up my gripe with Season 3, everything was too fan-catered and steered even further from the original envisioning of the graphic novels. It went from trying to survive another 24 hours to who can be the bigger man with the bigger guns. I can believe the struggle a lot more if the remaining survivors of this world ban together as best as they can, fending off the infected. But isn’t everyone infected? I would care more about my well-being then trying to provoke wars. After-all, they are in this together and that’s why that “war” just did not do it for me. Wouldn’t creating a lot of noise via gunfire and explosions attract more walkers to the scene? Let’s be honest, that finale was the definition of anti-climactic.
Whew. Okay. I got that off my chest. I understand that many of you will not be happy with me bashing your favorite show but this is just my honest opinion. Many will disagree and that’s perfectly okay. I gave my reasons for my disappointment in the show’s progression thus far. It may have worked for you, but it didn’t settle right with me. There were a lot of moments where it was easy to tell when the writers had struggled to guide most of these characters and the overall story. However, the times when Season 3 was lacking, it made it up highly with its visuals and camerawork. I’ll always remember the scene with the walkers in the fire pit being burnt to a crisp. And who could forget the intense and final moment with Daryl and Merle? Last night’s episode was no exception. The walkers this season look more frightening than ever and they absolutely upped the ante with the violence. Man, was this episode bloody. You could just hear the swords ripping through the bone and flesh of what’s remaining of these creatures and their intestines splattering on the floor. There was no short supply of blood and guts. The action scenes were exciting and that’s where the show will always succeed; when it’s humans vs. the walkers, not humans vs. humans. These kinds of battles build tension and character development. It presents tough scenarios for characters who were sheltered before the world crumbled. Are they still human? Are they still the same person they were before turning? For most, killing a walker is like stepping on an ant. For others, it still feels like murder. And speaking of ants, the shot of the ants eating the insect carcass was absolutely brilliant. It was a great analogy of the present state of the world.
After three seasons, Rick has still remained the one character that I will always sympathize with as he has been facing some tough decisions as of late. I like to think of The Walking Dead as Rick’s story. We were with him since the beginning. We were with him when he first discovered that humans no longer controlled the earth as he was leaving the hospital. We understood his pain immediately when he was screaming for his family’s whereabouts in his empty house. He has proven to be a great leader for everyone and even Hershel understands that. Rick starts to not believe in himself when he can’t help everyone around him. He couldn’t save his wife and he also couldn’t save Clara, the mysterious woman whom he meets in the woods. It would have been nice to see her character developed just a bit more but at the same time, it’s going to develop Rick’s character even more. He doesn’t want to go through another similar situation when he lost Lori and was practically losing his mind. Going on killing sprees and using walkers as target practice wouldn’t solve anything. Hence, the reason why he didn’t want to bring a gun with him. It was apparent that Clara was never going to come back and her soul was just too damaged. She was very dependent on her husband, whom we can assume was turned into a walker, and killing herself would allow her to be transformed along with her husband. Her attempted murder on Rick was a sign of her desperation and her difficulty to separate human and walker. Back at her campground, something was breathing heavily under that blanket and we can also assume that that was his decapitated head. But as Hershel explains, Rick was able to come back to his senses after dealing with something so tragic of his own (Lori) and so was Carl. Clara on the other hand was broken beyond repair. Making the show center around Rick and his struggles can make the show shine again. So far, it’s off to a great start.
One major element that I find fascinating with the show is the main disease that has caused all of this. As of right now, we still aren’t quite sure what caused this apocalypse but we do know what’s keeping the walkers relevant. Other than Michonne’s horse, the animals are getting sick. From the pigs on their mini-farm to the deer in the woods, the sickness is moving on to other species. Clearly, it is something airborne because Patrick didn’t get bit by a walker but was all of sudden starting to feel under the weather. Did it have to do with the deer that Daryl gave to him? Was that deer being served to everyone in the prison? In the final shot of the episode, we see him collapse to the floor in the shower and then he reopens his eyes to which we see that he has officially turned into a walker. However, the color of his eyes are the exact same color as that one walker that Rick kept noticing outside the fence. That one just stood out for some reason and it’s becoming more believable that one doesn’t necessarily need to get bitten in order to get the infection. Now that the prison has an infected in their midst, some new tension is going to build. Some trust issues are going to arrise. Who else is going to get infected this season? Only time will tell.
The new episode did have some minor flaws to the overall continuity. Though the super market scene was very intense and not knowing who was going to make it out alive stressful, I have to wonder why there were walkers on top of the roof along with a crashed helicopter. Since the roof does eventually cave-in, how did it not collapse before? Wouldn’t a helicopter crash destroy the store? Why were there so many walkers surrounding it? After Bob triggers the shelf to collapse, how does this make the roof weaker? This scene begs a lot of questions at the beginning and a brief back story would have been nice but everything after that was just pure fun to watch. Seeing the store rain walkers left and right through the roof felt very claustrophobic and uneasy. It was just straight gunfire, blood-splattering, pistol-whipping, sword-wielding and angry walkers all rolled into one. Again, the show has always been strong on the visuals, going as far as showing a part of a walker’s spine after he fell through the roof. With Beth’s boyfriend claimed by an infected, the rest are able to make their escape. Beth doesn’t seem too saddened by the loss of Zack as she changed the number from 30 to 0 in terms of days without an accident. Is she so used to losing someone close that it doesn’t even bother her anymore?
The Walking Dead is finally back on the right track. The characters are becoming more defined, they have more purpose, we have better elements for a potentially better story, and most importantly, the characters feel more human and driven. The Governor was nowhere to be seen in this episode and I’m curious to see how much his character has changed, if at all. At this point, he no longer has anything left to fight for as the people of the prison took him off his high cloud. Is he going to play the villain again or will the infection be the main antagonist? “30 Days Without An Accident” was a solid season premiere episode despite some of its flaws. I’m really pulling for this show to get better and better with each episode because it has the potential. The only way for that to happen is that the writers need to remain consistent with their story and also not cater to the fans. Catering to the fans hinders the quality of the show, making it appeal to a broader audience. Many people started watching this show for the first time when Season 3 premiered and many felt that they were caught up on the story despite not seeing the previous seasons. To me, that’s an issue because the earlier episodes were some of the best of the entire series. Not to mention, Daryl was not intended to make it this far in the story, yet the writers knew that the fans love him. So as a result, they kept him alive. If the writers and staff learn from their mistakes from the past, then I don’t see why Season 4 can’t be the best season of them all.