The Walking Dead season 4 episode 1 review: 30 Days Without An Accident

The Walking Dead is back with a solid season opener. Here's Ron's review of 30 Days Without An Accident...

This review contains spoilers. Read our spoiler-free review, here.

4.1 30 Days Without An Accident

The Walking Dead‘s cast is enormous at this point. Between old favourites, Woodbury holdovers, random people showing up in the woods, and new characters who we’re supposed to get to know and care about, there are a lot of folks hanging out in Georgia after the dead rise up to feast upon the flesh of the living. When a show has a bunch of people to deal with, one of the easiest ways for writers to create focus is to split the group up into more manageable chunks. In this case, we get a big supply run on one hand and a fun ramble through the forest on the other.

You’re never quite sure if the episode’s shakier B-story, Rick’s trip through the woods, is something that’s actually happening or something that Rick’s hallucinating. The show does a good job of hinting that Rick’s still having mental problems, or still expecting mental problems: he looks several times for phantoms while farming, he doesn’t carry his gun any more, and he apparently goes for walks in the woods without a firearm, despite the fact the fences are crowded with walkers. The lack of walkers we see as Rick follows his mystery sob story through the woods is another clever little move by Gimple and Nicotero; if Rick was hallucinating the story, he wouldn’t hallucinate any zombies, would he? He never did before…

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However, the set-up is much better than the pay-off. Rick finding another broken soul hallucinating her long-dead husband is one thing, but Rick finding the only random wanderer in the forest who wants to take him back and feed him to a head in a box is another thing entirely. The entire time she spoke to Rick, I assumed that was the endgame, assuming she wasn’t just Rick being crazy. When the thing I suspected most came true, I couldn’t help but be disappointed. It was pretty telegraphed, even if it was executed pretty stylishly.

Honestly, even Rick’s willingness to follow a random possible hallucination into a trap doesn’t bother me as much as the fact that, ten minutes into the episode, we’re offered up a Woodbury person we’re supposed to care about because apparently he’s Beth’s boyfriend. Meanwhile, does anyone really care about Beth at this point? I think I’m more invested in the character of Karen, if only because A) she got some characterization while in Woodbury and B) she’s Teen Wolf‘s mom, so I root for her. I think I’m more invested in Tyreese’s sister Sonia, and she’s been in almost no episodes.

In the grand scheme of things, these seem like small complaints. Scott Gimple has nailed the Daryl/Carol relationship; those two are better than ever. Glenn and Maggie are still Glenn and Maggie. I like the combination of Tyreese and Karen, if only because they may have been best buddies at Woodbury for all we know, and there’s a shared back story there. The interchange between Rick and Michonne, however brief, works really well. The characters that we’re supposed to care about feel right, and the newer background color are handled pretty well. (The fact that everyone eating breakfast seems to know and love Daryl suggests that they’re the voice of the collective audience, even as Daryl is our voice among the characters.) There’s never been a Rick that made good decisions.

Of the moments of the show that really worked was the SFX-heavy zombie attack on the group raiding the superstore, aka the A-plot. It was a clever bit of set-up, to have the crashed helicopter on the roof to both unleash a horde of trapped zombies and also weaken the roof itself, and I like that the way the zombies came in was basically due to decay. I’m not sure how long it’s been since everything started, but judging by the complete lack of any authorities or anything more well-coordinated than roving gangs, it’s been long enough for roofs to start caving in, especially those already weakened. As for the execution, what should have been horrifying—zombies dropping from the sky and occasionally exploding—ended up being really, really funny. It’s probably the funniest moment The Walking Dead has put to film.

It’s a fine episode, and as season openers go, it lays a lot of track for the rest of the season by creating some interesting ideas. Daryl seems to be the guy in charge now, making the group’s hard decisions while Rick farms. There’s something different about Beth; Carl is still Carl and may or may not be functional.

And there’s the little matter of Patrick, or the kid that looked like awkward Harry Potter. His illness and death, abbreviated though it was, brings up some interesting questions. After all, in a world where nobody’s getting immunized, we’re getting close to the point where the hundreds of rotting corpses stomping around in the water supply might begin to come into play as a vector of disease. In a world gone mad, something as simple as random bacteria in the water supply might be the downfall of the human race. 

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Typhus is certainly more interesting than another boring relationship drama storyline.

Read Ron’s spoiler-filled review of the season three finale, Welcome To The Tombs, here.

US Correspondent Ron Hogan is mostly happy with the new season of The Walking Dead, even if he does have some minor complaints. Nothing new for the show, of course; there’s always something to complain about if you really want to whinge. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi

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