We’ve almost reached the halfway mark of The Walking Dead’s fourth season, and this week’s episode offers a somewhat bleak hint of what is to come.
This week’s story is essentially a well-disguised filler episode, offering a break from the intensity of the on-going prison drama to present us with a compelling character study of one of the series’ most fascinating villains.
Let it be said that no one could accuse AMC’s zombie series of being a programme that plays it safe.
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.
This season reaches its conclusion not with a handshake and a peace treaty, but with grief, regret and a high mortality rate.
As one of the series’ most controversial characters, Merle was initially introduced as a trademark villain so lacking in redeeming features he made the zombies look somewhat charming. Having returned for the series’ third season and once again played by the excellent Michael Rooker, he has recently undergone a compelling metamorphosis. His morality or the seeming lack of it, is the puzzle to be solved by the end of the episode.
With an impressive degree of character development, numerous unexpected plot twists and a truly compelling central villain, the third season of AMC’s ambitious zombie saga could be its most gratifying to date.
This week’s instalment could easily be subtitled the ‘Cold War’ episode, so much of it is preoccupied with the revelations, dilemmas and politics that emerge in the build-up to an inevitable battle.
This week’s standalone instalment of The Walking Dead comes as a welcome relief from the intensity of season three’s central arc, an opportunity to tell a self-contained story that reflects the wider themes of the show.
Thank goodness for this week’s instalment of The Walking Dead. Following last week’s somewhat drowsy series return, this episode teeters on the brink of following in its tracks, before it delivers the second half that you would expect from AMC’s primetime ratings juggernaut.
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