“I’m just tired of losing people is all.” — Daryl Dixon
It’s that time of the year when The Walking Dead returns to the airwaves with a new season. Whether one believes the show is the best thing on TV or a mess of a show it’s hard to deny the fact that it’s become must-see TV whenever it comes back. The series has become pop-culture event that other shows of better quality and acclaim wish they could muster (the final 8 episodes of Breaking Bad was the closest to accomplish it).
The returns for it’s fourth season with a new showrunner in series veteran writer Scott M. Gimple. It’s this constant changing of showrunners that seem to make critics scratch their heads. For a show that could never keep a guiding hand for more than a season the series never seems to lose any of it’s popularity and it’s ratings numbers.
“30 Days Without An Accident” sees the show come back after what looks like an extended period of time since last season’s finale. The prison compound looks to have been fixed and improved with new defenses. There seems to be more people now than what was brought over from Woodbury at the end of last season. It would seem Rick is out as leader and a new leadership council have decided to bring in survivors they come across since last season. Carl and Judith are not the only kids in the show anymore.
The episode actually starts off quite serene in comparison to past season premieres. There’s a lack of desperation and kill-or-be-killed tone to this season premiere, but there’s still a sense of something still not right just beneath the surface of relative normality we’re given. Even the normally taciturn badass Daryl Dixon gets to relax a little with all the new people greeting him like an old friend. Yet, we all know what this show has always been about. For all the notion of rebuilding civilization that we see in tonight’s episode the streak of 30 days without an accident was bound to end and it does so in bloody fashion.
Some will probably complain that tonight’s episode was too slow in the beginning. It’s unlike the action-packed season 3 premiere with Rick and his smaller, but highly-trained group clearing out the prison yard with military precision. Again this goes to show that this season that desperation of trying to find the next safe place to rest has now been completed. They do have a safe place to call a safe haven. There’s now a growing farm with vegetables and livestock. They now a common area outside where people cook and eat their meals. We even see Rick and Carol looking to see that the younger members of this burgeoning community get to have some sort of education and time to be kids.
The writers of the show have been very good with creating these little serene and peaceful set-ups only to pull the rug from under everyone and it’s no different with tonight’s season premiere. The group going out into the “world” to scavenge for supplies seems like it’s become routine for this community from the early set-up, but it also looks to have created a sense of complacency in the group as a whole. We see the consequence of this complacency and belief in that things were getting into some sort of normal.
We see a routine and efficient run to scavenge a Big Spot supermarket turn into a nightmare with zombies literally raining down on the group. It’s a great action and horror sequence that managed to be both full of tension and terror. While it also had a “redshirt” feel to who would live and who would die it still didn’t diminish the fact that if The Walking Dead the series was good in any one thing it was setting up and executing action scenes.
The scene with Rick and the Lady in the Woods was another good sequence that focused more on showing just how screwed up this new world Rick and the community is still trying to come to grips with. For all their attempts to establish this normalcy within the prison’s fences the world outside is still a “kill or be killed” place. Even though it was only a brief turn as the Lady in the Woods, Kerry Condon does a great performance conveying how desperation in the early going of this zombie apocalypse has broken so many people. Where Rick and most of those he has rescued and kept safe haven’t succumbed to despair this woman in the woods gave up. She’s an example of where Rick could’ve ended up right from the beginning of the show if he never found his family. This entire series has been in part a story of how Rick has been trying to keep himself from giving up.
Then the final sequence right leading up to the episode’s end shows us that things that were taken for granted pre-zombie apocalypse might just be coming back with a vengeance as we see one of the new people introduced in the first half of the episode succumb to what looks like a virus. It’s good to see that the writers of the show are beginning to spread their boundaries when it comes to bringing in ideas to the show. While some might not think it’s an important detail I’m sure those who dedicate their life in studying crisis management and events will look at tonight’s episode and nod their head’s in agreement. Zombies might be the main threat facing this community, but the show has now introduced the threat of diseases that usually gets cured with a trip to the doctors or the pharmacy. In a world where everyone has reverted back to an almost medieval style of living such things have become luxuries or non-existent.
So, for a season premiere “30 Days Without An Accident” was a good start for the new regime of Scott M. Gimple. He was able to bring in a new thematic element to the show’s overall narrative with the hope of rebuilding civlization, creating the sense of normalcy in a world turned upside down and new characters to support the returning veterans. He has also made it clear that for all the serenity we saw in the first half of tonight’s premiere the overriding theme of the show will continue to be that danger and death will always be out there waiting to get in and with tonight’s episode we see that it already has found a way in.
- Tonight’s season 4 premiere, “30 Days Without An Accident”, was directed by series co-producer and make-up FX guru Greg Nicotero. It also marks the first time new showrunner Scott M. Gimple starts off a new season.
- The way the new people in the group are greeting and reacting to Daryl Dixon one would think his legion of fans have joined this season’s cast of The Walking Dead.
- Smart to clear out the horde of zombies at the fence line through the fence line. One thing most zombie fiction always seem to leave out or just get wrong is the constant need to keep the perimeter clear and secured.
- Looks like it’s not just the Glenn-Maggie ship plying the zombie apocalypse seas this season.
- Daryl Dixon is now one of the group’s leader…fangirls react enthusiastically to this new development.
- The show has two HBO veterans joining the cast in Larry Gilliard, Jr. from The Wire and Kerry Condon from Rome.
- I like how tonight’s episode gave us a brief, but tragic glimpse into those from other countries who got stuck in the area because everything fell to pieces in the beginning.
- Too many new characters and the way this episode is moving it looks like some of them have to be redshirts.
- AMC must’ve really opened up their tightwad purses to give Scott M. Gimple the chance to shoot that very awesome and bloody Big Spot sequence. It’s not often we get Visual FX on this show and the few times they’ve gone digital it looked somewhat fake, but not this time around with the destroyed Chinook falling through the weakened roof of the Big Spot.
- Poor Violet and Patrick. At least, now we have an idea of just what new threat outside of the zombies and the missing Governor will befall this new community.
- Swine Flu.
- Talking Dead Guests: Nathan Fillion and showrunner Scott M. Gimple.