"The Walking Dead" is back! Remember? The
After grabbing huge ratings and attention for its third season, which introduced the show's preeminent human bad guy, the Governor (
The title of the episode says it all: "30 Days Without an Accident." Of all the places to draw title inspiration,
As we catch up with the survivors, they've pretty much settled into life at the prison. Rick is working on his gardening skills, Hershel is also working on his gardening skills, Michonne is searching for the Governor, Darryl and Carol and are speaking baby talk (she calls Darryl "pookie"), Carl is busy growing up, and Tyreese is killing zombies on the fence line just to pick up on a lady. All in all, life in a post-apocalyptic zombie wasteland is pretty routine.
Yes, there are a few new faces. But of all the new characters introduced, only Bob Stookey, played by Larry Gilliard Jr. of
Other new characters -- such as young Zach and brown-nosing, gawky Patrick -- are goners before the hour is out. But we're likely to see more of Patrick next week, as he is the first to succumb to what appears to be the big new threat of this season: disease. Yes, yes, the zombie threat is a disease. But we're talking the more common kind of disease that kills wildlife and eventually people. Is the black death coming to "The Walking Dead?" It appears that way.
Although that threat is microscopic, in other ways, the show is bigger than ever. One highlight of the episode was a showstopping action set piece featuring zombies, and eventually a helicopter, crashing through the roof of a store. The sequence was thrilling but only served to underscore the lengths the show has to go to now in order to make the zombie attacks seem like anything more than a duty.
Probably the moment that will stay longest in viewers' minds is the hungry, scared and hopelessly insane look in the eyes of Clara, the mud-smeared survivor Rick stumbled across in the woods. Played by Irish actress
Whereas last season looked externally to the threat -- the Governor, who's still lurking out there somewhere -- this season looks like it's turning inward for the threat. Really inward. Like, your digestive tract. And your mind. Will vomiting, cold sweats and quiet insanity carry the same appeal as the Governor's whacked-out life? It's really doubtful, but the season is young and there's always next week.