TV Review: The Walking Dead; Season 4, Episode 1: 30 Days Without an Accident (USA, 2013)


(MAJOR SPOILER ALERT!) Some 196 days since the The Walking Dead last graced our screens, be it our TV or Laptop screens, it has finally returned with season four; 30 days without an accident. The first episode delivers with AMC’s usual gritty exterior and gruff style but what was missing was the gripping and suspenseful opening to the first episode, like we have seen in the previous seasons.

For those long-time fans, expecting to see a fast paced start like the beginnings of Seasons 2 and 3, we get an introduction that is a lot more comfortable and subdued, and then slowly builds in pace. The episode kicks off some six months down the line from the events that transpired in season 3 between Woodbury and our favourite survivors.

The opening sequence is indicative of the rest episode’s layout, which is that slow build of tension, with Rick exiting the tombs and walking into the prison yard with a farm complete with stables and a pig pen showing just how far they have come. As always we can hear the gentle moans of hoards of the undead trying to force their way in and spoil Rick and his survivor’s small paradise. The key moment in this sequence is Rick staring into the hoard of walkers and focusing in on one with blood leaking from its eyes, this is as you imagine is a signpost for later events and is no doubt going to be a part of the rest of the season.

As we all hoped Darryl is back still wielding the crossbow and riding the chopper, which if anyone but Darryl Dixon rode you would really question the choice of such a noisy and exposed vehicle in the zombie apocalypse. One of the big changes for Darryl is his clear and present power within the group, with Rick taking a step back last season our favourite redneck is now the central provider for the group and is now not just audience favourite but is a character favourite. Sasha and Tyrese have grown in stature, Sasha especially appearing to take on a very similar strong female type similar to what we saw of the late Andrea in season three.

Tyrese in the meantime appears to be battling some more inner demons, Rick style, and this moralistic dilemma looks to be explored through him. Scott Gimple, who has just taken over as lead producer on the Walking Dead made a guest appearance on the Talking Dead and promised fans are closer look at all the characters over the coming season. “Every character this season gets a story, everything that you see that is laid out in this episode is going to play out over the next 16 episodes,” Gimple said.

One of the great things about the walking dead is the ever changing landscape within the group and how the characters have developed through the apocalypse. Already season four has introduced a slew of new characters and given them significant standing and even killed off a couple of them! That is no surprise, with the deaths characters like Lori, Dale and of course everyone’s favourite T-Dog, we are used to seeing the grisly deaths of key personal. The brutal death of Zach, Beth’s new squeeze, was probably predictable but he did go down in the most exciting part of the episode, the Zombie storm. The storm of walkers falling through the roof of the supermarket was no doubt the highlight of the episode and really reminded us that you are never safe in the Walking Dead universe.

Which brings us back to that slow build, the episode really comes to a head with said storm with Darryl and Michonne showing their usual poise in dispatching the undead while Glenn brushes close to death but again finds a way out. It was something that we really didn’t see coming in that slow camera pan from the group entering the supermarket, onto the roof it just didn’t seem like the Walkers could get down from there! Sure enough, they found a way in with the first zombie that came crashing through the ceiling bungying in using his intestines. In the ensuing chaos we learnt that all the characters should wear the body armour that Glenn got from the dead prison guards and Bob the man who caused the collapse with his clear alcohol problems will be significant from here.

Outside of that of the Walker shower, Rick found himself in a pretty bizarre set of circumstances nothing that his hand cannon couldn’t handle but still confronting for a man who barely held onto his sanity. When Rick ran into Clara a survivor who is by all appearances is barely alive, we get to see how the group has grown to its new large size, through screening potential survivors through a series of questions, and where Rick was headed during his mental breakdown in season 3. The brief run in with Clara, who looks like a zombie, is another reminder that while things look good for the group the world out there is pretty bleak and it’s not getting any better.

The outcome of this chance meet is not good for Clara as she tells Rick of her story of her survival which has been her relying on her husband Eddie. We do get the sense very early that there is something not quite right about the whole Clara situation but we go on believing that it might be ok. That ok feeling we develop about Clara quickly changes when she attempts to stab Rick so she can feed him to the remains of Eddie which turns out to be nothing more than severed zombie head. Clara than goes on to commit suicide, not without leaving Rick with a haunting message of we don’t get to come back from the things we’ve done. It is a confronting message for Rick as throughout the episode you can see he has tried to atone for everything that he has been forced to do, he is off the supply runs and no longer carries his gun around, and he now focuses on raising Carl and other non-zombie slaying practices.

The episodes conclusion leaves us with the usual bout of anxiety to hang onto as one of the new characters, Patrick, dies in the bathroom. Early in the episode Patrick eludes to be sick but at the time most viewers would have viewed this as nothing of importance however it turns out we are dead wrong. In the final seconds of the episode we see Patrick keel over and die, bleeding from the eyes, just like we saw in the opening scene with Rick looking at the walkers outside the fence. The Walking Dead has again delivered yet again with this episode with its tension and high level action but still provides us with plenty of character development. 30 days without an accident posed some interesting questions, introduced some new characters and gave us a taste of the action to come, needless to say we The Walking Dead has hooked us all back in again and episode one has earned itself FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE).

The Walking Dead screens in Australia on FX, Mondays at 8.30pm


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