The Walking Dead: ‘30 Days Without an Accident’ – Season 4 Episode 1
I never thought I would say these words, but it feels good to be back in prison. The series opener of The Walking Dead’s fourth year is undoubtedly slow, but like the groaning corpses that litter its landscapes, it catches up to you and leaves you terrified before the end. The story picks up some time after the tragic battle with the Governor that left Andrea six feet under. And it’s clear from the outset that things have moved on since then.
It’s been 30 days without an accident. The survivors have strengthened the defences around the prison (it’s a nice touch to see Morgan’s influence, in the form of the skewers surrounding the entrance). On a personal level, Rick is working on his relationships with his children. Michonne is hell bent on finding the Governor. Tyreese hooked up. Daryl and Carol still haven’t. In this episode, Rick encounters a mysterious survivor in the woods who forces him to reflect on his own grief and Michonne steps up her search for her sworn enemy. Meanwhile, a routine supply mission ends in disaster, and a member of the community undergoes a shocking transformation.
For those that wonder what the characters get up to when they’re not fighting for their lives and waging war against sociopathic maniacs, this week’s episode offers some excellent examples of the social pastimes open to survivors of the zombie apocalypse. There’s gardening (the survivors pick off the roaming walkers like weeds), story time (complete with a bonus ‘Zombie-fighting for Dummies’ course, courtesy of Carol) and if they’re lucky, a shopping trip.
It’s the store sequence that leads to the effects-laden highlight of the show. For those who like their zombie action with a George A. Romero slant, it’s a fast-paced, thrilling adrenaline injection in an episode otherwise preoccupied with smaller moments. It’s excellent to see Michonne, Daryl, Sasha and Glen in the middle of zombie carnage again; they each get their moment to shine in a series of scenes that see them fighting off the undead in the aisles while zombies rain down on them from above.
Death works a bit like buses in The Walking Dead; you go 30 days without an accident and then the Reaper calls twice. While it’s a sign of the series’ boldness that they’re willing to introduce new (and rather nice) characters into the fold only to swiftly axe them, somehow it’s difficult for us to care – we’ve only just met them and haven’t yet had the opportunity to form a strong connection. It would have been more effective had one of the central team been killed off (although it’s likely that this season will have its fair share of casualties).
As in previous series, Andrew Lincoln’s Rick remains the emotional core of the show, with his forage into the woods leading to one of the series’ more moving scenes in recent memory. Season three saw him stray into anti-hero territory in the wake of Lori’s death, and this episode goes some way to redeeming his humanity.
Although it’s obvious from a mile off that Rick can’t trust the mysterious woman he encounters (that he initially mistook her for a walker should have convinced him there was something off about her – trust your instincts, Rick), it ultimately leads to a moving conclusion, in a scene that draws its power from his willingness to have sympathy for the dead.
Ultimately the episode is funny, brutal, gory and moving, and a strong indication of good things to come.Tagged in: Andrew Lincoln, David Morrissey, George A. Romero, The Walking Dead, zombies
Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter