Season Four has begun and although I'm a fan of the show, I have had some problems with its execution over the first three seasons and now we head into the fourth. What will it bring us?
In rural Georgia, a group of surviving humans are ambivalently led by former sheriff’s deputy Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln, who wears the role with such heavy sadness). They fight off a relentless onslaught of thousands and likely millions of zombies who can only be killed by blunt brain trauma (in accordance with nearly all zombie lore). In any given episode, we see anywhere from a dozen to 100 such blows administered — spears and arrows and bullets and even boots puncture zombie skulls, which squish and explode with such regularity that viewers have long since become inured to the squealfully gross sight of it.
I have read many opinions about season three, but I have to say I rather liked it. David Morrissey was excellent as a twisted fascist leader called The Governor, who wooed the lovely Andrea away from her survival companion Michonne. I really felt for Andrea (played by Laurie Holden) even when at times I wanted to smack her upside the head over her feelings for the Governor, but I didn't see her death coming and was saddened by her loss. I thought the way the writers set up her demise was pretty brilliant too. When the Governor killed Milton for not killing Andrea and then we slowly watched him turn while Andrea was chained up was genius. I so wanted her to reconnect with Michonne and the others after her lame attempts at brokering a peace had failed, but oh well.
It's about six months later and Woodbury is gone, the Governor is on the run and the prison is still standing. But now there's an overflow of Morrissey's ex-flock taking refuge behind the walls as well as other survivors. It's kinda like their own version of Woodbury.
Episode One wasn't anything special, but has enough action to wet your whistle while supplying a primer for what's to come in the next fifteen episodes. It opens up with Rick tending to his garden and listening to country music while the zombies are drooling over him outside the fence. After the credits roll we get the obligatory zombie smashing time as new members of the group stab the heads of the zombies at the gate.
Michonne comes riding back to the prison on horseback, bearing gifts of comic books for Carl and a shaver for Rick's beard. She's in very good spirits these days and apparently she's hunting The Governor on her own. There's a governing counsel set up now and Hershel tells Rick that he's not to go outside checking the traps without bringing his gun anymore. The counsel disapproves, you see. Rick was pretty looney tunes last year so it's no wonder he doesn't have a seat at the table, but would you go anywhere in Walking-Dead-Land without a piece?
There are two main story lines this week and a third lesser one that is a precursor for next week. Rick goes out to check on his traps and finds a disheveled and starving woman leering at a dead boar and asking him for help. Is this another one of his visions? She asks him to help her get food to her husband Eddie because they haven't eaten in days. Rick hands her some foil-wrapped food and she asks if they could go with him to his camp, but he tells her they need to answer three questions first to start the process.
Back at the prison, there's a small community of kids with Patrick who are about his age. Carl catches a few of them yelling names at the walkers and he scolds them about it.
You're naming them? They had names when they are alive, they're dead now.
They don't talk, they don't think, they eat people, they kill people.
He's a buzz kill. How long before he takes out one of the newbies? The kids ask Patrick if he's going to 'story time' and he says yes. Patrick knows Carl won't go, but tells him he goes sometimes.
Daryl takes a hunting party to a Walmart-type place called The Big Spot, a department store that appears to have been guarded by walkers at one time. Michonne, Sasha, Tyreese, Daryl, newbie Bob, Glenn and Beth's new boyfriend Zach scope it out. We get a shot of zombies hanging out on the roof of the Spot with a busted up helicopter and you know that type of foreshadowing is never a good thing.
After a commercial break, Rick is walking with weird Clara of the woods and she tells him how devoted she is to her husband Eddie, who saved her over and over again and she's only made it this far because of him.
It's raining zombies!
Back at The Big Spot, the group is shopping and new Bob, who looks to be an ex-alkie, is checking out the booze aisle. After he reaches for a bottle, the shelf collapses on him, which starts a chain reaction and the whole wall rack of bottles of booze comes crashing down on him which makes a huge crashing sound, pinning him to the ground and alerting the walkers on the roof to their presence. Apparently, the roof is pretty much rotted away and as the zombies are walking toward the sound, they start falling through the crumbling tiles and down into the store. This worked really well and was a very creative way of using a zombie swarm. Many of the zombies broke into blobs of bloody goo when they hit the floor, while others dragged their battered carcasses after living flesh.
The crew engage in some zombie warfare while new Bob is still trapped underneath the liquor case, screaming for help. The helicopter on top of the roof also starts to sink down into the store. While new Bob is fending off a crawling zombie, his hand pushes into the rotted skull of a walker. Zach is fighting off a few when he gets bitten on the leg by a surprise zombie, who then leaps on his neck and rips his throat apart.
Rick finally reaches weird Clara of the woods' small camp and we find out that Eddie isn't around. She bends down by a small crate and burlap canvas, and then whirls upward at Rick with a machete and tries to kill him. Rick easily knocks her down. She begins mumbling that Eddie is dying and needs something alive to feed it and Rick seemed tasty enough. She then stabs herself with the long blade as Rick screams at her to stop. He sees himself in her. As she's dying, she asks him what those three questions were.
How many walkers have you killed?
How many people have you killed?
As Rick walks away, there's something under a canvas that's slightly stirring and growling, but he doesn't notice.
Carol is reading a book to the kids as part of 'story time,' and Carl creeps in to check it out. She puts the book down and takes out a fine collection of knives and she's about to give a survival lesson, but Patrick says he's sick and needs to leave. He does look a little peaked. Then she explains to the kids how to hold, stab and slash a knife. She sees Carl staring at her and she asks him not to tell Rick about this. It seems like the perfect fourth grade class in the post-zombie world.
Daryl's party gets back and Tyreese tells Karen that he now hates going outside. Maggie tells Glenn that she's not pregnant, but says they could've had a kid. He's like, say what?
Because I don't want to be afraid of being alive.
Being afraid is what's kept us alive.
No, it's how we kept breathing.
Daryl tells Beth that Zack is dead and she takes it in stride like it's no big deal. There's an old style calendar in her cell and it reads: This Workplace Has Gone 30 Days without an Accident. She takes down the 3. She knows Daryl is staring at her and she tells him that she doesn't cry anymore. 'I'm glad I didn't say goodbye. I hate goodbyes.'
Michonne looks at a map and highlights Macon.
Rick tells Hershel about the crazed women he met and says he got close to her condition before and if he lost Carl and Judith, then he could easily become delusional again, but Hershel, always the reassuring type, praises him for trying to help her.
We then see Patrick stumbling and coughing as he walks towards the shower. He then passes out after he runs the water over himself. A moment later we get a close up of him turning into a zombie, eyes bright red.
* Earlier in the episode, we saw a pig that they had been raising for food get sick and then die. Is this the cause of the possible new virus that just killed Patrick and turned him into a walker?
* Zombie Patrick will be on the loose while most people are sleeping in their cells. This could be interesting.
* What's up with this counsel?
* There's a lot of new victims to play with at the prison so I see a drastic rise in the body count as things progress.
* We see how the zombie apocalypse is affecting the youth. Beth wouldn't say goodbye to Zack when he left to go on the food run and when he died, didn't shed a tear for him and Carl is an out-and-out cold-blooded killer. Some new child-rearing textbooks need to be written for post-apocalyptic eras.