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The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead is a drama about a zombie apocalypse. It is based on the 2003 Image Comics series. AMC 2010-???

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Episode 1 - 30 Days Without an Accident

17 October 2013

Credit AMC

Synopsis: Months have apparently passed and the prison has been transformed into a farming community. Rick is staying put, tilling the fields, checking traps and keeping an eye on Carl. Darryl is much loved and leads the major runs for supplies. Michonne returns from her search for the Governor and goes on the run. New boy Bob goes along too but gets trapped under a shelf full of booze. Above the store a crashed helicopter has drawn Walkers and weakened the roof. The Walkers begin tumbling down and Zach is killed. Rick comes across a dishevelled woman (Clara) who takes him to meet her husband. However he is dead and she has given up on life claiming she can’t come back from the things she’s done. Back at the prison a young boy named Patrick dies in the showers.

The Good: This was quite an ambitious opening to the season. Seemingly the whole winter has passed so that we can pick things up in the perpetual Georgia summer which the show is filmed in. We got a minimum of hand holding in terms of new character introductions or reminders of the mental state of various people.

I really liked the opening scene with Rick blocking the sound of Walkers out with his headphones. It seemed an apt metaphor for the prison and Rick’s faith in it. Within the safe confines of this neighbourhood he can block out the world but as soon as he looks outside the fence he is loudly reminded of the state of the world. His interaction with Clara was too manufactured to have real impact but did help flesh out his current ideology. He is hopeful that he can come back from the horrors he’s been through but isn’t entirely sure. He doesn’t want to let ruthless or desperate people through the gates lest they burst the bubble he has carefully created.

The reactions of the other survivors showed an admirable range. Rick wants Carl and the other children to remain innocent but Carol, and others presumably, want to prepare them for the realities of this life. Maggie wants some joy in her life to make it worth living while Beth embraces a resigned numbness. Tyreese avoids the slaughter of mindless Walkers at the fence because it upsets him while Michonne searches for vengeance still and scours the surrounding area for signs of the Governor. The children name the Walkers and develop the kind of confused knowledge which appears not that dissimilar to the urban myths of our world.

Rick has gone so far as to not carry a gun around Carl but aside from that the new security measures at the prison looked excellent. The pointy wooden palisades which Morgan used in “Clear” have begun to be deployed, a gate which can be raised by pulley and regular fence clearance teams were all welcome developments. The use of farm animals and plants was a must and with Hershel’s family around there are no questions about where the necessary knowledge came from. The election of a council follows on Rick’s resignation of his dictatorship. It was all logical and pleasing to see but then again Season Three began with similar promise.

The Bad: Nothing bad yet but plenty of grey areas.

The Unknown: One of the biggest problems with The Walking Dead is the depressing nature of the story. Although I thought this was a decent season premiere it didn’t fill me with excitement or any hope. It just seems obvious that at some point the prison will be overrun or abandoned. To begin a story with that looming cloud makes it hard to invest in the interactions of the characters. Rick is still fretting about his soul and yet all I can think is “I’m sure you are going to have to suffer much worse in the future.” Maggie talks about having a baby being a positive thing and yet it’s hard to imagine how the group will keep their vulnerable members safe when a boy can drop dead in the showers.

The new security measures were slightly undermined by the decision to let Bob go out on the supply run before he was a known entity. And I suppose people really should lock the internal doors of the prison, as irritating as it might be, just in case someone were to die in the night. Rick’s three questions won’t protect them from incompetence or accidents. Or indeed sabotage. Patrick’s illness could well be random and the build up of Walkers at the fence an equally natural development. But the presence of the Governor in the shadows makes me instantly suspicious. Did he poison Violet the pig too?

All of these caveats make it hard to take any development on face value. Is Bob to be trusted? Is he an alcoholic or just remembering some awful memory when he grips that wine bottle? More to the point is Bob just a means to an end? Is he going to be a fully developed character or just a reason why things begin falling apart? You can’t help but look at any new character who doesn’t get much dialogue as the T-Dogg’s of future seasons.

The attack at the store was a clever idea. I liked them luring the Walker’s away with music and then the collapsing roof was suitably dramatic. However there was almost no tension given that this was the first episode of the season. It would have taken some quite brilliant staging to convince me that any of our survivors were in real danger.

As mentioned above Rick’s interaction with Clara felt a bit too signposted to develop its own genuine tension or emotion. After all the talk of how many people the camp had taken in it seemed obvious that for some reason she wouldn’t. The vague descriptions she gave of her husband and their experience also indicated to me that a twist was coming. The fact that it all tied Rick’s story together was a bit too neat to feel real.

Best Moment: Possibly the opening scene. It communicated a good amount in a simple and effective way.

Conclusion:
It’s a cautious thumbs up on the opening of season four. This failed to generate much emotion but that doesn’t mean it failed. I liked the developments at the prison and the cliff hanger will instantly drive the action. However last season failed so badly to address the show’s fundamental weaknesses that it feels like we have a mountain to climb for this to become the show it could be.

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  • In my opinion, it wasn’t a perfect premiere in comparison to last seasons. I mean, in season 1 we had that outstanding start, season 2 delivered a tense one and season 3 began with a strong and fast paced episode. But this episode was more a episode to introduce us to the new setting and character situation.
    So from this perspective, it wasn’t what I expected but it was needed to make us to understand atmosphere of the prison. And it did it very well.
    In term of new threat. I don’t think the disease is the main problem of our survivors. I guess, the main threat is a series of unknown attacks. The attacks that prison residents don’t know where are they coming from. One of them is the disease that hunted Patrick and the pig. And the other is the horde of Walkers coming toward prison. I guess, the force behind these attacks is Governor who is gonna take over prison by sorts of tricks and stealth plans. Cause he has not his army anymore. And I think these two are not the end. So I feel there would be something like traitor between people of prison also. And Bob has this potential.

    really sorry for I posted it late... and sorry for the bad English. It's not my first language.


    Viewer score: 80 / 100

    Posted by Reza, 17/10/2013 4:10pm (4 years ago)

  • I wanted to clarify that I was indeed speaking of the disease carried by everyone when I mentioned mutation. I don't know of any disease passed by eating food that would kill a healthy young person in less than a day, so I assumed that either Patrick caught something from Darryl, or the water supply, that acted in combination with the already present disease.
    One other thing-- I was not disagreeing that the walker attacks have always been convenient, I just think the writers could explain in some small way why the roof collapsed when it did. For instance, simply having them "asleep" as we've seen many walkers before, until they heard the shelf falling below and massed towards the center, would make so much more sense without taking up more screen time or budget. I just want to see the effort on the show's part.

    Posted by Matt E., 17/10/2013 12:03pm (4 years ago)

  • You may have misunderstood me in the sense that I'm well aware of everyone who dies coming back. But the idea that the infection could overtake you while you were alive and unharmed would be quite a new concept.

    Aside from being scary it would seem to be a very difficult concept to create television drama with. As if their lives weren't bad enough, now they might just randomly drop dead one day?

    Posted by The TV Critic, 17/10/2013 11:09am (4 years ago)

  • I may have misunderstood you but I wanted to point out that the show has established that everyone who dies will become a walker, whether or not they've been attacked by a zombie. I don't know if that's the story in the comics. The secret that Jenner told Rick back in season one was revealed to be that everyone is infected, and the reason he took blood samples from each member of the group was that he was hoping to find an exception. That's why later zombie police officers and military personnel from the helicopter crash were discovered to have no scratches or bites, and also why Shane, the young man Shane killed in the woods, Milton, the old man from Milton's experiment and now Patrick became walkers even though they died in different ways. To my knowledge every other character who died and definitely stayed dead had received a bullet to the head. Because of this Matt E's prediction, that even those thought to be simply carriers of the zombie infection may in fact be running out of time before they succumb to it, seems like a really plausible explanation for Patrick's death. I think he might be right on, and I agree it would indeed make the infection a scarier enemy than any psycho the show could come up with. Since Patrick was shown to be sick earlier I also wonder if that was the infection itself or if the infection could be somewhat like the HIV/AIDS virus, which can cause relatively few symptoms for a time but the effects can become much more serious when another virus like the flu enters the body.

    Posted by Dan B, 17/10/2013 2:26am (4 years ago)

  • Good catch by a listener of the Bald Move "Watching Dead" 'cast--Rick's Three Questions were the same ones that he'd been asked when talking on the prison phone to no one. Nice way to insanity constructively!

    Posted by Matt E., 16/10/2013 11:09am (4 years ago)

  • Normally I might be let down by a somewhat quiet premiere, but since the plot from the final few episodes of last season seemed to go totally off the rails, I really enjoyed starting over with something much more grounded. It was more character driven than I'm used to with this show, and I could be proven completely wrong but I got the feeling that some of the new residents of the prison might actually become characters that I get to know. In particular, Bob Barksdale's expression when he held the bottle merely hinted at his backstory, making it seem like they are going to take their time to develop him. Again, I could be wrong as the moment also served to kick off the action sequence and it could be as simple as that. The sequence itself was pretty well done, though the hordes of zombie extras themselves don't scare me anymore which definitely sticks out as a weakness of the show. The moments with Clara were a little predictable but at least I was genuinely creeped out by her. She really looked like death and something about that combined with her soft voice made me very uneasy while she was onscreen, which is a feeling I think I ought to be experiencing more often in a show set in a zombie apocalypse. Aside from that I do look forward to seeing where the story will go with a possible disease outbreak looming and what will happen when the boy turned zombie returns from the bathroom with an appetite. There were a few other things I liked. The governor being an unknown at this point makes him intimidating again. I have not always liked Andrew Lincoln's performance but I thought he was really strong this week. And while they didn't scare me I did think that a few of the zombies were really unique and cool looking, and there were some nice shots that focused on them. Two zombies that come to mind are the one holding the fence that we see at the beginning and end of the episode that had really crazy eyes and one that looked like a recently deceased grandfather, still wearing his reading glasses. I appreciate being able to tell them apart, and for the first time in a while it had me remembering that each individual zombie was a person once and had a story that led them to the gates of the prison. The accident board relating to the title struck me as a really nice touch. Maybe just because I work at UPS and see a similar one each day, but I thought it was a good symbol for what the show is all about: a core group of characters fighting to survive in a horrible environment while also fighting against the feeling that any attempt at a normal life is futile, while each passing tragedy that occurs makes that feeling more and more unshakable. It is without a doubt a depressing story, but at times has been a good one, and while this wasn't a hugely eventful or shocking episode it did leave me feeling surprisingly positive that this season could be one of those times.

    Viewer score: 68 / 100

    Posted by Dan B, 15/10/2013 7:18pm (4 years ago)

  • It was a very good premier and gave us some clue about next threat .
    Thank u so much for the perfect review... just I wanted to know when you upload the podcast?

    Viewer score: 70 / 100

    Posted by paul, 15/10/2013 3:25pm (4 years ago)

  • Oh, I wanted to add that the Clare character was so grey colored as to look ridiculous. When they arrive at her camp it's at in the open, shiny, clean, colorful? wtf

    Posted by Yogabon, 15/10/2013 12:51pm (4 years ago)

  • Good episode. It's nice being reminded that this is a horror show. I usually don't feel like I'm watching anything more than a gory soap opera when I watch TWD.

    Where's Wallace? Where the #### is Wallace?

    Posted by Romit, 15/10/2013 6:18am (4 years ago)

  • This episode cemented for me what I began to suspect in season 3. That this show is different than what I thought it was. It turns out, perhaps as the behest of the network since the show is a hit, that this show is built to go on season after season with them constantly searching for a new shelter, meeting new people along the way, attacking walkers, getting attacked, then on to the next location, etc., etc. Basically it is built to go one forever having frequent zombie attacks and things to make people jump with surprise in their living room. Seasons 1 and 2 made it seem like their was more plot and that story and character was the focus, but now it seems clear that story and characters are just loose structures as a way to support frequent zombie attacks. I just need better plot and character....

    Viewer score: 60 / 100

    Posted by dsm, 15/10/2013 4:40am (4 years ago)

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