Welcome back, deadheads, for an all new season of AMC’s smash-hit, The Walking Dead. We’ve come to expect great things from the show and season four’s premiere, “30 Days Without An Accident,” did not disappoint. Spoilers from here on in, so if you’re not caught up on The Walking Dead, venture further at your own risk.
Instead of picking up where last we saw our survivors, season four of The Walking Dead has more of an “in medias res” opening. Rick is gardening on the prison grounds, having a ton more people to provide for after taking in the Woodbury refugees, and we’re not sure how much time has passed. Judge for yourself based on plant growth or the characters’ hair, but it appears to have been some months. And they have pigs now, although not all of them are healthy.
Daryl is taking the lead as hunter and Carol playfully mocks him for the admiration he receives from the entire community. While he grins and bears it, we can see his character is on the rise of leadership.
Glenn and Maggie are still The Walking Dead‘s cutest couple, although Beth has coupled with Zach, one of the Woodbury boys and a wannabe sidekick for Daryl from the looks of it. He’s set to join Daryl, Tyrese and several others on a venture to scout out an old store.
Michonne, The Walking Dead‘s most enigmatic character, returns on horseback and we get to see the elaborate two-gate entry system the group has set up. She hands Carl some comic books and Rick an electric razor, telling him his face “is losing the war.” The beard suits him, but it’s also the grizzled look when he was being driven insane by Lori’s ghost inside his head.
While checking the traps for any animals they might have snared, Rick comes across a filthy woman trying to drag one of the hogs off. You’d think she was a walker by looks and Rick has the same reaction until she speaks, begging him to help with her husband. There’s something not right with this crazy-eyed chick, so of course it’s a trap, as she tries to knife Rick when they arrive at her camp, her husband’s disembodied head being all that remains. When Rick turns out to be a bit faster on the draw, she commits seppuku with the knife she had intended for The Walking Dead‘s good sheriff.
At the Big Spot grocery/department store, Daryl’s detachment get a rude awakening. As they forage for supplies, the crashed Army helicopter helps the rotting roof give in and walkers start dropping from the ceiling. Unaware but never unprepared, the gang start making splashes where each zombie’s head used to be, but not without losing Zach as a casualty. We watch and cringe as he’s ripped to pieces and wonder how Beth will take it. She’s rather callous and nonchalant when Daryl delivers the bad news, casually flipping the prison’s “days without an accident” board from 30 to 0. She doesn’t cry anymore, she explains to Daryl.
Patrick, one of the Woodbury kids, had excused himself from storytime and we see him hacking and wheezing after lights out. He heads to a shower and rinses off but he’s coughing up blood and dies, soon to be reanimated as one of The Walking Dead.
This episode was exhausting. Not in that slow, fumbling sort of way but instead in a thoroughly satisfying suspenseful type of way. Season four of The Walking Dead has a lot more paths to choose from, with all these new characters. The immediate impact of episode one? We see Beth has become jaded by survival, with the world crumbling around her, and the cast’s last spark of optimism seems to have faded.Whew.
The new twist: The Walking Dead‘s characters may not need to be bitten to die. Patrick seemed to be a perfectly healthy kid and in less than a day, he’s down for the count and now a zombie in a locked cell block. How will that play out next week? What are the implications? Is the virus killing people instead of just reanimating them after death? And what’s going on with Violet, the sickly sow? Will pigs become walkers too? The only way to find out is to tune in next week for episode two of The Walking Dead‘s fourth season.