Creating distance, zombies raining from the ceiling, and a crazy lady with weird skin make for an intriguing (if sometimes redundant) Walking Dead Season 4 Opener, “30 Days Without an Accident.”
So here we are, at the start of a new season of The Walking Dead. Before the show started, I watched the last few minutes of the season 3 finale. This wasn’t to refresh my memory as much as it was to make sure that Andrea was really dead. (If she comes back to nag Rick from the grave like Lori did, though, I’m going to be pissed. Also, obligatory SPOILERS AHEAD warning.).
Welcome to Not Woodbury
The episode opens with the prison and Rick’s mental health seemingly in a much better state. A covered eating area and farming stations dot the landscape while hordes of ravenous zombies harmlessly press themselves up against the fence.
Rick seems far removed from the manic wreck he had become last season, dutifully tilling some soil while ignoring the walkers just a few feet away from him. He also seems to have somehow found batteries for his iPod.
Later, Rick explains to Carl why they shouldn’t name a pig they are raising since she will eventually be made into bacon for the rest of the group. Carl insists, however, upon calling her Violet. Rick eventually acquiesces.
Back in the jail proper, Carol is cooking up a delicious looking meal for the newly expanded group. It would seem as though the transfers from Woodbury are fitting in well with our original survivors. Tyrese and Beth even managed to snag themselves a couple of significant others, while Carol and Daryl continue to make all of us squeal with their light (and admittedly adorable) flirting. There’s also a nerdy looking kid in glasses who asks to shake Daryl’s hand due to how awesome he is (which let’s face it, any of us would be honored to do). It seems like he’s just another expendable extra, but that will soon be revealed as not what it seems to be.
Around the time things start to feel a little too warm and mushy, Michonne comes galloping back into camp on a horse (fresh off a futile hunt for the MIA Governor). She also managed to pick up a stash of comic books for Carl and even cracked a smile, showing that things really were starting to settle into a calm, comfortable routine for everyone.
Don’t talk to strangers you meet in the woods
Later, Rick goes out into the woods to “check the snares,” which is show writer-language for “get put into life altering and/or dangerous situation.” He ends up encountering a woman who looks like she might be a walker, but just turns out to have not bathed in a long time…and is in dire need of his help.
She claims that she and her husband have been out in the woods trying to survive while making vague references to some of the “inhumane” sacrifices that this new world requires of them. Rick says he’ll help her, but he has to speak to her husband and ask him three questions first (because I guess asking those questions of a woman would turn him to stone or something).
As they walk through the woods towards the camp, it becomes more and more apparent that this lady is not playing with a full deck. You would think that Rick’s experience with being crazy himself would tip him off, but apparently the sheriff still has a weak spot for women that are difficult to deal with. This realization finally hits home when once they reach her campsite, she attempts to stab him while screaming wildly about her zombified husband needing fresh meat for supper. She then decides instead to stab herself, no longer willing to live in this world where skin cream is no longer readily available.
As she lays on the ground bleeding out, the crazy woman pleads with Rick not to kill her so that she can turn and live in Zombieland with her husband. She also asks him what the three questions were. He replies:
How many walkers have you killed?
How many people have you killed?
I’m guessing that Rick would have slipped in a fourth about when was the last time she took a shower, but the crazy lady from the woods dies before he can ask it. Rick solemnly walks off, allowing his new friend to have her dying wish.
Like father like son
Back at the jail, a group of girls are naming the zombies at the fence. Carl admonishes them for doing this much the same way his father did when he tried to name the pig. It’s about as subtle as a sledgehammer. But it also reminds us that despite Carl’s frequent insubordination, he’s still his father’s son.
We also see the glasses kid hanging out with Carl, which all but guarantees something awful will happen to him.
A scouting party goes out to get supplies from Big Spots (which probably had all types of lawsuits for copyright infringement from Big Lots before the undead took over). The group is careful to check and make sure there aren’t any nasty surprises during their shopping trip. Daryl also takes a moment to tease Beth’s boyfriend, Zack, about his futile efforts to guess what he did for a living before the zombie apocalypse.
Zack guesses that he was a homicide detective, much to the amusement of Daryl and Michonne. The group finally heads inside, completely unaware of the horde of zombies or the crashed military helicopter on the roof above them.
As they go through the store, another new guy named Bob takes a moment to look at the wine selection. While picking out his favorite available brand, however, the case falls over. Not only does this waste a ton of good alcohol, but it alerts the zombies, who start puttering around atop the already weather-beaten roof.
The first one crashes through with his intestines still holding him up. The next few, however, fall to the floor and begin attacking the humans with no problem. We get to see some Michonne/Daryl zombie slaying badassery right before they are able to save Bob (and thankfully avoid the horror movie cliché of black people always dying first). Unfortunately, Zack ends up getting eaten in the process.
Killer story time
Back at the jail, Carl has decided that he is too cool to attend story time with Carol along with the other children. His curiosity, however, eventually gets the best him.
As Carl sneaks in, he sees that Carol is actually teaching the little munchkins about how to defend themselves with basic weaponry.
Glasses kid is unable to stomach it (or so it seems) and leaves. When Carol observes Carol watching her, she pleads with him not to tell his father.
Cold blooded blondie
Back at the jail, Glenn relates the harrowing tale of how they almost died on a supply run to Maggie. Maggie then tells Glenn that she’s not pregnant, causing a wave of relief to wash over him now that he won’t have to have his ass kicked by a one-legged Herschel.
Meanwhile, Daryl has the unfortunate task of breaking the news to Beth that her boyfriend got turned into zombie chow. But to his surprise, she takes the news with little to no emotion, explaining that she “doesn’t cry anymore” while giving Daryl an uncomfortably long hug.
Outside, Rick notices that Violet the Pig (who had seemed sick earlier) is now dead.
Revenge of the zombie nerd
In the middle of the night, glasses kid gets up and stumbles toward the shower. To make sure that the audience knows something is wrong with him, he also has a really nasty cough.
While standing under the shower head, he collapses, dies, and turns into a zombie. His cold, dead eyes are the last thing we see before the end credits and Chris Hardwick’s smiling face take us into the next hour on AMC.
- Characters are evolving rather than becoming parodies of themselves
- Lots of great zombie-killing action
- Interesting story seeds being sown
- Theme of being detached from things got hammered home way too much
- Pacing was abruptly slower than what we had become accustomed to in Season 4
The theme of detachment was a little over done, but otherwise, this was a pretty solid episode. I liked how it set up that things were in a nice routine, especially after the manic pace at the end of last season.
The kid dying in the shower was a bit weird. Is there a new form of the virus, or will he just have died from a normal disease? Either way, a zombie is loose in the jail while everyone else is asleep. That’s never a good situation to be in.