The Walking Dead Review 4.1 '30 Days Without an Accident'
Posted by Josh Syvertsen on 10.14.2013
An Irish woman, a recovering alcoholic and a downed Army helicopter enter a popular TV show... stop me if you've heard this one before. If not, you're in the right place. 411's Josh Syvertsen fills us all in regarding the comings and goings on the season premiere of The Walking Dead.
Hello good friends and welcome to the the show that never ends...or is just beginning in this case. My name is Josh Syvertsen and I've been so graciously tasked by the powers that be to bring you your weekly 411 Walking Dead recap and analysis. A couple of quick caveats before we dig into the marrow of what was certainly an entertaining if not a little thin season premiere.
Caveat #1 First, and most importantly for some of you I guess, I have not read the acclaimed graphic novel series on which the show is based. I have not done this for a myriad of reasons, the first being laziness. I'm a busy man people. But the second and most important is that this column/review is about the television show The Walking Dead, not the graphic novel series. It would be unfair to the show and unfair to you, the reader, if I was constantly bitching about how the show is different than the source material (and believe me I would bitch). Think that's wrong? Hit me up on twitter some time and mention 'Under The Dome' - watch my head explode. I will make this promise to you who are ever so pissed about my lack of The Walking Dead graphic novel experience, that someday when the show has completed its run, I will check it out.
Caveat #2 Have fun. What's expressed here is one solitary, bitterly lonely mans opinion. If you believe something different, write about it! Let everyone out there know what you think, but don't be a dick. It's a television show - not life or death.
Now, lets get down to business as they say in some cliched movie somewhere.
Last Season On The Walking Dead: Our group of rag tag heroes found the prison we all know and love and began making it a home. Unbeknownst to them, a reasonable driving distance away The Governor has already established his idea of a post-apocalyptic utopia in Woodbury. Eventually the two groups cross paths and begin to clash with each other. Throw in a heavy dose of Crazy Governor and almost crazy Rick and you end up with the ultimate Thunderdome scenario : Two groups enter. One group leaves. Ricks prison folk come out victorious in the end leaving The Governor broken, while Rick and Co. accept the refugees from Woodbury into the prison and declares an end to the Ricktatorship and the birth of the Rickmocracy or something. You can register to vote in cell block C. More happened, but I can't do all the work for you. Dial up some Netflix and watch it yourself - it's quite good.
This Week On The Walking Dead: Ricks hosting a garden party! Not really, but he is doing some light gardening work while listening to some sort of portable music device. Things seem to be going rather well. There are plenty of crops growing. There is livestock. Even Carl seems less homicidal than when last we saw him. Rick does some real parenting for the first time in three plus seasons and Carl actually seems appreciative of it. There maybe hope yet for the boy! Hershel (now with cool fake leg!) expresses the councils concern that Rick no longer takes a gun with him when he checks the traps outside the perimeter. Normally anything that comes out of a committee is pure b.s. but they may have a point here. Rick agrees - reluctantly.
Harbinger of sorrow that she is - Carol can't help but notice the increased number of walkers massing outside the prisons fences. They seem to be under control though as many of the newbies in the prison have been assigned to walker control duty. And by walker control duty, I mean standing by the fence and stabbing walkers in the head for hours on end. Rick gets to tend the garden. New folks stab walkers all day. There's a lesson about hierarchy in there somewhere, but there a lot more to get to so explore that on your own. Stabbing walkers all day isn't enough to deter Tyreese from crushing on Karen though. But he's not the only one who's found comfort in the arms of another. Hershels youngest daughter Beth (remember Beth? yeah, me neither) has been canoodling with newcomer Zach.
Zach however must bid her adieu as he has volunteered for this weeks away team. He joins Tyreese, Daryl Michone, Glenn, Sascha and newcomer Bob for this weeks mission. Bob gets a little back story clarification - he's a former army medic. So They target an army camp set up outside what appears to be a tore stocked with nothing but liquor and electronics. "Come down to Crazy Tims Liquor and Electronics superstore, we have everything you need - liquor and electronics! All in one place!" Turns out this is the wrong place to bring Bob as he is terrified of blenders, I mean, he's clearly an alcoholic. He has designs on stealing a bottle of wine, but thinks better of it. Putting it back however becomes more of a challenge. The whole damn shelf falls on him creating a hell of a ruckus and alerting the mass of walkers on the poorly constructed roof (I always say even in the face of the zombie apocalypse, you should be hiring licensed and bonded workers). Oh, did I mention there is a downed military helicopter on the roof? Because there is. And it's heavy. The walkers start falling through the roof and attacking our group of good guys. One gets caught falling down and is just kid of hanging, like at the beginning of Suspiria. Unfortunately for the away team the rest of the walkers hit the floor. Daryl spots the helicopter poised to crash that's going to crush them all. The race is on to save Bob. Unfortunately despite Bob being saved - Zach gets bitten. R.I.P. Zach we hardly knew ye. If only Bob had just taken the wine - everything would have worked out. See Alanis, that's ironic. Did I just make an Alanis Morisette joke...in 2013? Don't worry folks it gets worse.
Back on the outskirts of the prison Rick is checking the traps when he sees a walker approach. When it starts talking he's even more confused. Turns out it's not a walker just a really dirty Irish woman. That's not an anti-Irish thing, this woman was just really dirty. She tells Rick her sad story: 4 day layover at Hartsfield in Atlanta (seems about right), walkers attacked the airport, her and her husband did some nasty shit to survive. But now they want to join Ricks group. Rick agrees if her husband can answer these three questions: how many walkers have you killed, how many people have you killed, and what is the air speed of an un-laden swallow? Okay, maybe not that last one. The last question is simply: why? She promises answers so he follows her back to their camp only to discover this bitch has gone crazy! She attacks Rick hoping to stab him and feed him to her walker/husband. When this fails she turns the knife on herself begging Rick to let her turn so she can be at least still be with her her husband. Rick makes his look down tortured weasel face a few times before walking away and not killing her. My guess would be this might come back to bite him in the ass later. But what do I know there's still a part of me that thinks the whole show is taking place in the snow globe of an autistic 8 year old (I told you it would get worse).
Back inside the prison, Carol teaches what Rick thinks is story time, but is really knife fighting 101. One of the older boys begs out of the training claiming to not feel well. Later he stumbles through the prison to the showers where he collapses and dies. It only takes a few beats before he opens his eyes again with a new found taste for man flesh. Foreboding! End Episode.
Elsewhere: Glenn and Maggie are not pregnant, and thank god. First of all, they already did that dreaded possible zombie baby thing last year. Second, I need the lovely Lauren Cohan in as little clothing as possible - not trying to hide a baby bump...Carl, Rick and Michonne have become real close. While she searches far and wide for The Governor, she makes pit stops to bring Carl back comic books and Rick a razor. Although to me it looks like Ricks beard has pretty much topped out at "long stubble" and will not be progressing on to "Grizzly Adams."
I have always felt that season premieres that skip months were a bit of a cop out (cough DexterSeason8 cough). This episode, because of the scope of what needed to happen, didn't really feel that way. Time needed to pass in order to show the next phase for these characters. Sure stuff happened in the mean time, but it seems like it was mostly committee meetings about who would be on the fence squad. Meanwhile while everyone settled into a new routine things got (mostly) back to normal, well, as normal as you can get in the face of the zombie apocalypse.
The main story arc of the episode really focused on Rick and how he has changed over time. No longer crazy and no longer seeing ghosts (thank god), the incident with the Irish woman seemed to cement just how far Rick had come, and remind him how far how far he'd fallen. How close he was to breaking is something that the other characters may not have even realized, even Hershel, Ricks right hand, expresses some doubts when Rick confesses just how far down he'd gone mentally. In many ways you can argue that had it not been for the conflict with The Governor, Rick could easily have become that woman. It took the conflict with The Governor to bring him back, to make him realize that it's not just about him, that everyone is his family, something that Hershel reiterated to him in this episode when trying to get him to take the gun with him.
So now that Rick is no longer the hard ass who let Tyreese, Sascha and the others walk to The Governor after refusing to let them join the prison group. How will the "mellowing" of Rick, his new found complacency, effect the groups overall safety? Rick from last season never would have let the Irish woman live. He'd have put her down just as quickly as you'd put down a rabid raccoon. Despite the end of the "Ricktatorship" he is still their defacto leader, whether he likes it or not. Will Ricks seeming lack of desire to lead - he sure did look happy as a farmer, even Hershel noticed in that short scene they had together, lead to a power vacuum that destroys the group from with in?
The episode set up a few other key things - mainly Michonnes ongoing search for The Governor. We know he's coming back, David Morrisey is signed for this season. But in what capacity? We've also got a dead pig and a dead teenager? Neither of whom were bitten, so why are they dead? Maybe the pig was of natural causes, but the boy? There was nothing natural about that.
There is a fear, maybe more of a specter really, that the stark tonal shift of the show between this season and the end of last season echos what happened in Season Two where everyone was stuck on a farm for endless episodes. I really didn't mind it because the show is more about the interpersonal workings of the group rather than just killing shit, but it's easy to see this season falling into a routine much like Season Two did. Last season worked so well because the focus was on The Governor, the "big baddie," and the end game of defeating him. The apparent lack of that singular enemy, along with the expanded cast could potentially lead the show to become incredibly unfocused. On the plus side - no one got lost. Again it's the first episode of the season, so it would be irresponsible to speculate too much.
The 411: The return of The Walking Dead was a sight for sore eyes for a lot of people, myself included. New show runner Scott Gimple, while not hitting it out of the park, certainly acquitted himself well in his first episode. The shows premiere episode delivered on what it needed to do. It shifted the tone from one of constant struggle to one of progress and of routine. It introduced new important characters and set up long ranging story arcs for them. The foundation is there, the interest is peaked. Let's hope this seasons payoff is as good as lost seasons.