Welcome back,! Season 4 has finally arrived, and while things seem to have settled into routine for the tribe during the off season, I get the feeling that we’re in for a horn-of-plenty of surprises.
As a whole, the season opener had a slow build, setting the scene for how things have changed since last season. The major things left over from “Welcome to the Tombs” include Carl’s readjustment needs, the Governor’s disappearance, and the massive influx of Woodbury refugees into the tribe’s stronghold, the prison. So, yes, more so than last season, this season opener is less Walker-rific, more focused on the tribe, and picks up on story lines from the previous season.
Among the last thing we saw Carl do was kill someone in cold blood, which raised Hershel’s concern and reflected some words the Governor spoke (basically kill or be killed). Now, Carl is naming farm animals and reading comics, a nod to Robert Kirkman perhaps, but at the same time he’s shown to still be matured beyond his years. For example, Carl attempts to educate some of the new local girls about the Walkers and how they’re not people or pets, that they kill people and shouldn’t be given names.
With the threat of Woodbury and the Governor all but removed, though it’s revealed early on that Michonne frequently goes on solo manhunts for him, the tribe has moved toward a self-sustaining farming community. In the opening scenes of the episode we see Rick tending to some crops, Hershel teaching replanting techniques, and Rick and Carl concerning themselves about a sick pig in the pen. We’ll also see a sick boar outside the prison later in the episode.
While the tribe and the new community have settled in and several romances have blossomed and things seem to be under relative control — there hasn’t been an accident in 30 days as the episode’s title informs us — the Walkers are building in numbers outside of the fence. I’d just like to say at this point that Greg Nicotero’s makeup department has done an outstanding job showing the various stages of decay. But everyone has their duty to fulfill: there are recon and supply runs, cooking duty, library story time/knife training with the children, farming responsibilities, and fence patrol, which consists of lancing Walkers through their heads.
Jesus, is this Little House on the Prairie?
In addition to tending to crops, Rick also does some trapping outside the fence. This has to be a metaphor of some sort, because who’s really trapped? So, Rick goes out to check the traps and comes across a desperate woman who pleads for Rick to help her and her husband. As Rick cautiously agrees and they basically step over a diseased boar to head off to her camp you can’t help but feel that it’s a trap that Rick has stepped into. Personally, I thought she was going to lead him to a group of cannibalistic outlaws, but it wasn’t quite so bad and easily avoided by Rick.
But poor Rick just can’t catch a break; he just has to endure traumatic event after traumatic event. Later he confides in Hershel about the deranged woman and can’t help but project himself into her psychological state. But Hershel is able to reel Rick back in, reinforcing Rick’s strength of spirit.
Beth, Hershel’s other daughter, you know, the blonde that’s hardly said a word for two seasons, yeah, her… her spirit seems to be pretty broken. Hershel should probably spend some time with her. See, while Rick was out “trapping,” a team went out on a supply run and while in a department store they were overrun by Walkers. Zach, Beth’s love interest, gets bitten and eaten while rescuing a fallen ally. When Daryl informs Beth that Zach died, she just updates her accident board and tells Daryl that she doesn’t cry anymore, that she’s just happy for having the chance to know him. It’s a pretty esoteric and detached point of view, and I hope our new writers explore this area with some depth. I mean, there are two ways to survive in this world, with compassion or with coldness. But is it cold or just reality?
At the end of the episode one of the refugee children, who excused himself from the story time earlier, wakes up in the middle of the night with a fever and then dies in a cold shower. And the episode ends with him opening his zombified eyes. That’s a hell of an alarm clock that’s about to go off. Sick pig, sick boar, sick kid… sounds like a case of swine flu.
Can’t wait for the next episode of The Walking Dead.
Rock Hard \m/