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The Walking Dead, Ep. 4.01: “30 Days Without an Accident” introduces a new threat

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The Walking Dead, Season 4, Episode 1: “30 Days Without an Accident”
Directed by Greg Nicotero
Written by Scott M. Gimple
Airs Sundays at 9pm ET on AMC

After an uneven but mostly solid third season, The Walking Dead opens back at the prison, as a quest for new supplies between the group of survivors quickly goes haywire. Meanwhile Rick attempts to help a mysterious Irish woman he meets in the woods, and a character’s death after mysteriously falling ill, can only indicate that a new threat has arisen, potentially leading the series down on a new path.

“30 Days Without An Accident,” marks the first episode under the watch of new showrunner Scott M. Gimple, known for writing some of the finer episodes of the series, including “Pretty Much Dead Already,” and the two best episodes of season 3, “Clear” and “This Sorrowful Life.” The title of the episode indicates that the group has enjoyed a whole month without casualties; The prison is more than a safe haven now – it’s a community with a council, farm animals, recreational activities, and batch of fresh new faces. As premieres go, “30 Days Without An Accident” is a fine instalment, setting the pieces in motion, while establishing what has happened since the Woodbury raid.

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The Walking Dead’s cast has expanded greatly, and this new bunch seems a hell of a lot more interesting than many of the now deceased previous travellers. Scott M. Gimple makes a wise decision in splitting the group into three manageable sections, making it easier for viewers to keep track of the who’s-who of newcomers. The episode’s B-story, which follows Rick through the woods features a fairly decent set-up but the end result is easily telegraphed, and somewhat disappointing. Still the sequence does a fairly decent job of hinting that Rick is still wrestling with his inner demons, while hammering in what should be the season’s central theme: Redemption. Grimes is not the same man who we saw back in the season three premiere. He no longer wants to carry a firearm, and he is free of the trappings of leadership. His character change is a welcome touch, and it will be interesting to see how the writers handle his arc this season. Glenn and Maggie are still Glenn and Maggie, and Tyreese and Karen are awarded far more screen-time this year. Even more, Tyreese’s pacifism, or weak stomach is far more interesting than Rick’s change of heart. Meanwhile, the interchange between Carroll and Darryl, continues to be enjoyable to watch (although it is still unclear if they are officially a couple). Furthermore, Melissa McBride is given more to do each and every episode. She is no longer the helpless victim of her abusive husband, nor the grieving mother of a missing child. Her secret weapons class demonstrates that she is taking charge, making decisions and is no longer a follower. In truth, Carol is far more valuable than Rick Grimes right now, and it helps that she’s got fan-favourite Darryl Dixon by her side.

As for the newbies; we’re introduced to Beth’s boyfriend, a Woodbury person we’re supposed to care about, but in typical Walking Dead fashion, he’s killed off before we can even remember his name. Even worse; he’s dating a character who nobody has ever really cared about. Clearly the writers are trying really hard to do something interesting with Beth, but even with her lack of tears and refusal to say goodbye, it just isn’t enough at this point. And than there’s the shy, awkward Patrick. Between him and Violet the pig, we know there’s a new kind of danger facing the group. Disease is certainly a bigger threat within the prison. Bacteria can travel faster and easier through the prison’s walls and gates than the walkers barred outside; not to mention making its way to our survivors via the water supply. It will be interesting to see how the healthy folks interact with those infected in the near future, and how fast fear will spread rapid amongst the band of survivors. The episode’s main reveal, about an impending disease that will most likely bring down the entire community, questions Rick’s speech about how working together makes everyone stronger.  

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The Walking Dead continues to impress with its inventive and gruesome action. The best scene of the episode is undoubtedly the special-effects-heavy zombie attack on the group raiding the supermarket. It was a clever set-up, having not only the walkers fall through the rooftop, but allowing the helicopter to crash down as well. The ‘raining zombies’ sequence has to be one of the most enjoyable scenes of the series so far.

All in all, “30 Days Without An Accident” makes for a decent premiere with plenty of strong action and character beats, a fine set-piece, and a healthy dose of humour and smiles. There is still a lot of work to be done in way of building some of the veteran characters (Beth, Carl, Rick), but “30 Days” shows a lot of promise for what is to come. If the season’s direction mirrors Maggie’s speech, than viewers should expect a bit more life injected into what has been an extremely grim, and often depressing series.

– Ricky D

Other thoughts:

I love the use of the song “Precious Memories” by The Stanley Brothers.

Darryl licks his hands while eating what we assume is pig, before shaking Patrick’s hand. Does this make Darryl patient zero?

During the supermarket raid, we see a zombie who, like Patrick, has blood flowing through his eyeballs, hinting that the unknown virus has been around for a while, only now making its way to the prison.

I’m looking forward to seeing more of Bob Stookey (Larry Gilliard, Jr.).

A bit more racial diversity this year. Instead of killing Bob, the new black guy, they go ahead and off Zach instead.

Rick’s three questions: How many walkers have you killed, How many people have you killed, and Why? 

Did Michonne bring Rick an electric razor? Is she flirting with Rick?

Hershel: “We do have to find you a pair of overalls, you need to look the part. A little piece of wheat out of the corner of your mouth. Maybe a bigger ass.”

Where is the Governor? I’m sure Michonne will figure it out.

Don’t forget to listen to our Walking Dead podcast. New episodes drop every Monday night, with a different special guest each week.

 


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