The Walking Dead: Season 4 – Episode 1 ***SPOILERS***

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I waited a few days before I wrote about the season 4 debut of The Walking Dead on AMC. I do not think I have anticipated an episode of a television program as long as I can remember, even with Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. did not have me this excited. Unlike Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., I can watch each new episode of The Walking Dead as it airs.

 If you have read any of my previous reviews, you will know that I will do a list of Pros and Cons, and then end the review with my own thoughts. I do assign a numerical score and try to be as fair as I can in that assessment.

PROS:

– How great was it just to have the fourth season finally start? I was literally sitting on the edge of my seat for the entire episode and was extremely happy to hear that ominous theme song once again.

– I can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed the evolution of the Daryl Dixon character. Whoever would have thought that a supposed 3 episode story arc in the first season would have led to Daryl becoming the second (perhaps even most) important character in the show. His character development is something that you just do not see anymore. The way that he has naturally become a leader for this group in season 4 was something to see.

– The cast of this show (even if it is expanded to start the season) is one of the best I have seen. They all have embraced their characters and seem to truly enjoy their time together. The bonds and relationships that they have formed while making this show shines through in their performance.

– I do not mind the manner in which Beth dealt with the death of her new boyfriend, as it actually would seem to be a natural mental state to take after witnessing so much destruction and death. Her rationale of not letting herself get too attached to those around her is what would happen to anyone who would have been exposed to the same situations as she had.

– The woman in the woods (Clara) freaked me the hell out! Her voice, her look and her mannerisms were downright spooky. I was watching the episode on a television that was darker than my own so it made it even more freakier and confusing to figure out who or what she was. At first glimpse, I thought she was a new evolved zombie and thought how brilliant that plot device would be. It would really pull on Rick’s moral code more than ever.

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– The swing of the “hope” pendulum has swung to Maggie and she now appears to be the beacon of light for the group to start this season. She has always been a strong female character and it adds a new level to her character. Her entire thought process on possibly being pregnant gave a sense of trying/wanting to establish a normal life through this ordeal.

– The sequence of the zombies crashing through the ceiling was definitely a new way to introduce the threat to the group instead of just having them walk up to them. It was a very cool seen visually

– The continuous teasing of a possible relationship between Daryl and Carol is something the fans want to see have some form of pay off for the two characters. There is a definite chemistry between Norman Reedus and Melissa McBride and it is apparent when they are on screen together. They have been teasing a potential romantic relationship between these two since season 2 and Daryl took ownership of looking for Sophia. The little bit of banter between the two moved this along nicely.

– The arrival of Michonne back into the midst of the survivors was nice to see and I was wondering if there was a potential relationship between herself and Rick. Carl and Rick were extremely happy to see her ride in and it would make for a really unique and interesting dynamic between two very strong characters.

– The idea of a new virus seeping it’s way into the story and impacting both the living and the dead is going to put a new twist on the traditional zombie story. There is no telling how the virus will hurt or evolve the zombies. Could it make them weaker, stronger or change them in another way. Is it another possible way for living to turn into the undead?

– I love the idea of Carol teaching the kids how to protect themselves while she was supposed to be reading to the kids in story time. It shows that even though she knows that Rick wants a sense of normalcy in their lives, for the kids to be kids, that she knows they need to learn to survive and protect themselves.

– I really loved that there was a little more humor in the episode than what we had in the previous episodes. It would make sense for the survivors to begin to settle in to a normal life after months of peace ( well as much as you could have in a zombie apocalypse) to joke around a bit and try to enjoy the life that you now have.

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CONS:

– There was a lot of time spent on setting this season up and I knew that it would slow down the pace of the show, but it just felt like we had only two real moments happen in the episode…..the creepy woman in the woods and the group that went on a run having zombies crash through the ceiling. I am hoping that it will pick up next week.

– I know that the herd of survivors will eventually be thinned out as the season goes on, but I found it hard to get into all the new survivors and begin to care about them. I know that we may not be supposed to, especially if they are going to be victims throughout the season but I just don’t like to have a bunch of randomness thrown at me at once. Even the new guy Bob did nothing for me. There is still time for him to grow on me, so I will have to wait and see.

– It surprises me that Clara was able to survive as log as she did out in the woods with only a zombie head in a bag and a tent to live in. I know that she said that Ed taught her everything that she needed to know to survive but it seemed odd to me that she would have gotten so far with so little. But boy she was creepy.

– I wish they would have touched on how they were able to get an artificial leg for Hershel. I know this may be a nitpicky point, but they did not address it at all. Even if they would have mentioned it in passing or in a fleeting moment, it would have been better than not at all.

SCORE:   8.5/10

MY THOUGHTS:

The episode was a very good way to start the season, even if the cast was extremely bloated due to the addition of the survivors of Woodbury. I think as the season goes on, the new virus and the zombies will address some of the extra characters that we have in the fold now. It’s not that I don’t want to see more people survive but it is harder to have a tight narrative with so many integers in the equation.

Norman Reedus and Andrew Lincoln are so damn good as Daryl and Rick, and they are of course the driving force behind the series right now. It was the acting and characterization that Reedus gave Daryl that drew me into the series int he first place, so I will always be a huge Daryl Dixon fan. His continued evolution and development is what drives the show for me and is what  tune in for.

This season looks to be an amazing ride and I can not wait to see it play out. Robert Kirkman has done something very rare in that he has one property in two mediums that is very familiar but also stand alone different. There are continued nods to the comic books and I am hoping that we see some of the comic stories brought to the television series.

All I know is……. I am a Dead Head!!

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About Jason Huskins

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