The Walking Dead S04E01 recap and review: Spoiler alert

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I guess Rick has a no-knives-for-kids policy? Anyway, I can't imagine how Carl, young psycho that he is, would have any problem whatsoever with what Carol is doing.

Meanwhile, Rick returns from the worst snare-check ever to see that his sick pig is dead.

Why don't animals come back as zombies? Would you call a zombie pig? A trotter?

Well, that was a sucky day

Daryl and the gang have returned from their big-box-store misadventure. Suddenly fence duty doesn't sound so bad, huh, Tyreese?

Maggie tells Glenn that she isn't pregnant, making me wonder if I'm forgetting something from last season. Glenn doesn't want to have a baby, but Maggie disagrees: "I don't want to be afraid of being alive."

Meanwhile, Daryl breaks the news to Beth that her boyf is dead. This is pretty much how the scene goes:

Beth is so over showing emotion. Call her Sheryl Crow 'cause she can't cry anymore.

Beth has a workplace sign in her room that reads "30 Days without an Accident". She takes off the 3, bringing the tally back down to 0.

Michonne is looking at a map of the great state of Georgia, planning a visit to Macon. Hey, Little Richard is from Macon. So is Otis Redding. So is former R.E.M. drummer Bill Berry.

Rick is holding his baby daughter Ass-Kicker as he seeks reassurance from Hershel that people can indeed "come back". Hang on, isn't Hershel a vet? Why wasn't he taking care of Violet?

Deathly ill

Harry Potter looks like shit. On a scale of 1 to Clara, he's about an 8. Coughing and wheezing, Harry Potter stumbles from his cell and into the shower area. He pumps some water and douses himself. Then he collapses. The shower runs out of water like an unnecessary metaphor. Harry Potter is dead... until...

Damn. I'm not as worried about a zombified Harry Potter as I am about a disease which may be spreading in the prison that's bad enough to kill someone. Maybe Harry Potter caught the disease from the pig. Maybe the pig caught it from him. We'll have to wait 'til next week to find out if anyone else is already infected.

'The Walking Dead' S04E01 review

For its first two seasons, “The Walking Dead” skated along on premise and production values. The writing straight-up sucked: we had a cast of characters totally unable to make common-sense decisions, yet somehow they weren’t devoured by the shambling undead. (The graphic novel series, on the other hand, specializes in hitting its characters with cruel twists of fate after they make good decisions.)

S03 finally brought us some character development, as well as shifts in perspective from what had become kind of a boring drama about Rick’s family life.

When S03 premiered, the writing team had gotten its collective shit together and was no longer churning out the same two scenes over and over (“Where’s Carl?!” “Can Rick really lead us?” Rinse, repeat). Still, though, the writing feels really bloated.

By now, we’re past the notion of zombies being the primary threat to our survivors. As in Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road”, the biggest threat to a group of survivors is another group of survivors. It’s not the death of humanity, but the death of society.

"The Walking Dead" excels when it focuses on people in conflict whose stances are understandable. That's why The Governor is such an awesome villain: because we can recognize where he's coming from. Despite the spectacular it's-raining-zombies scene, my favorite part of "30 Days Without an Accident" was the Rick-Clara story. Kerry Condon did a stellar job in those scenes, and it was heartbreaking to see someone so profoundly at the end of her rope.

Overall, though, "The Walking Dead" is maintaining its tradition of wasting at least 20 minutes of screen time before actually getting into the story.

I give "The Walking Dead" S04E01 three cardboard Frankenstein's monsters out of a possible five.

What did you think? Is "The Walking Dead"'s fourth season off to a good start? Would you have raided the Big Spot's beer-and-wine aisle? Will the zombie apocalypse really have that many oddly-clean Hyundais? Let me know in the comments, but please, no spoilers.

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