The-Walking-Dead-Season-4-Premiere

The Walking Dead is back! This is reason enough to celebrate, but it’s even more exciting now that we have seen the premiere episode from new showrunner Scott Gimple. The season 3 finale was packed with super-intense drama, but this new season isn’t picking up directly after the showdown with the Governor at Woodsbury. Instead, it seems like a month or two has passed since the end of the Woodsbury settlement with the Woodsbury survivors blending with Rick’s group. Everyone has a role in this expanded society at the prison and it seems like things are going pretty smoothly (for once). Instead of Dictator Rick, we have a ruling council that discusses the issues facing the survivors. Additionally, the roles that people have been assigned seem to suit them. Their manufactured society is functioning well, which takes pressure off of the individuals. There are enough adults so that not everyone is needed for high-risk ventures into the outside world. Glenn and Maggie talk about the possibility of having a child and a life at the prison, now that the environment is more stable. Even Carl is doing kid things like playing, reading comic books, and talking to other children.

The two big plot points of the premiere are Daryl’s group expedition to the big Target/Walmart type shop and Rick’s encounter with a stranger in the woods. It seems like Daryl’s competence is making the group more confident in their outside world maneuvers. The group’s trip to the store for supplies seems to go really well until newcomer Bob Stookey confronts his alcoholic demons a little too harshly in the booze aisle and causes the wine rack to come crashing down on him. Unbeknownst to the survivors but knownst to us, there are a good number of walkers on the roof of the store, along with a fallen helicopter. The crash of the wine rack attracts the horde and the roof gives up, causing the walkers to fall from the sky into the store. There is lots of head squishing, skin peeling and other awesomely gory gore. The cutie that Beth was flirting with gets eaten because that’s just how it goes. The crashed helicopter on the roof finally falls into the store basically ruining the good thing the survivors had going with this seemingly fully stocked warehouse store.

Back to Rick, who is now pursuing simpler goals like becoming a good pig farmer. He is taking care of Carl and baby Judith, still healing from Lori’s loss and his temporary loss of sanity. He encounters a woman while gathering things away from the prison. She’s a lone survivor and begs Rick for help. Rick, thankfully, is a lot more hesitant to help a fellow survivor than perhaps he would have been pre-Woodsbury. I don’t know why he chooses to follow her at all, but Rick is Rick and so he demands that if the woman and her husband want to come back with him, he has to meet her husband first. Big shocker: the woman is actually crazy and was just looking to feed Rick to her now zombified husband. Rick gets away and back to the prison where he reflects on how close he came to her fate. It makes sense that Rick would take pity on the woman and let her have her wish, which was to be with her husband as a walker. She was so obsessed with her husband’s fate that she gave up living for herself – literally – she kills herself in front of Rick. Rick realizes how close he came to losing it completely in the last season, and while he still can’t seem to catch a break, he seems to be more conscious of his health and his role in the group.

What I guess will be a major plot in this upcoming season is the mysterious disease that first took the pig and then the bespectacled youth. I don’t know why there wasn’t a scene with Herschel the vet checking out the pig before it died. This disease seems to act very quickly, within a day, starting with flu-like symptoms that worsen until the infected is dead. How this disease was introduced to the prison group should be interesting. Maybe it is a tool of the Governor, who is still lurking about. Maybe it involves the CDC somehow. Either way, I predict we are going to lose a lot of friends. I also predict that some characters will be conveniently immune to this plague.

This first episode sets up a lot in its 43 minutes, from subtle exposition to new dangers to our favorite group of survivors. I appreciate the showing rather than telling that is going on in terms of more subtle storytelling. I feel like the Walking Dead has become more intellectual in just that first episode and I sincerely hope it continues the trend. Lori and Andrea are gone, Tyrese is a member of the prison (and one of my favs from the comics), Carol and Daryl have the most adorable relationship ever, and Michonne has a cool horse and more screen time. I feel like it can only get better from here.