This video clip features the producers and several stars of THE WALKING DEAD talking about the new status quo and the challenges facing the survivors of the prison when the fourth season picks up again in just a few weeks.
It looks like our friends are widely scattered and mostly alone — however, Carl (Chandler Riggs) and Rick (Andrew Lincoln) are still together. How will Beth (Emily Kinney) handle being alone for the first time? It seems a little surprising that Michonne (Danai Gurira) seems to be having trouble being alone again. Did she become too domesticated at the prison?
THE WALKING DEAD returns Sunday, Feb. 9, at 9 p.m. on AMC.
Another episode of THE WALKING DEAD, another cliff-hanger that leaves us begging for more. Can Daryl, Michonne, Bob and Tyreese outrun thousands of walkers? Will the disease claim more lives? Will Carol kill again? Will Tyreese kill Carol in revenge?
There was a palpable sense of fatalism from almost everyone in the camp, whether Carol warning Rick that they may not see another sunrise to Glenn complaining that all he’s doing lately is digging graves. Everyone seems to sense the Grim Reaper just outside the gates. And why not, with the disease inside the fence? And, as far as anyone knows, a mad killer on the loose?
Not even a week after I expressed my disdain for “contagion” storylines (while discussing SLEEPY HOLLOW) what does THE WALKING DEAD do? It plays the contagion card. And worse, it looks like this will be a major plot thread for the foreseeable future.
I just don’t buy into the inevitable course of infections in these storylines — the path of the disease is clearly dictated by storytelling needs. Somebody once said that we are much more forgiving of amazing coincidences in real life than we are in fiction, so it’s best to not put any coincidences in your story, but if you must, keep it to just one. And it’s always the most dramatically interesting people who get infected in these stories. It happens too often to be coincidence.
About six or seven months have passed when the season four premiere reintroduces us to Rick and the denizens of the prison. In that time, the original tiny group has integrated the survivors from Woodbury and formed a quaint little farming town with a ruling council, organized work forces, lots of plants in buckets — and an army of the undead itching to get inside and eat everyone.
A lot of this introductory episode is devoted to establishing the new status quo and updating viewers on where all the regulars stand. Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) are still a couple — and no, she’s not pregnant — while Daryl (Norman Reedus) has become a celebrity around camp and possibly Carol’s (Melissa McBride) official boyfriend. Beth (Emily Kinney) does have a boyfriend — a new guy named Zack (Kyle Gallner). Tyreese (Chad Coleman) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin) have settled in as important members of the team.
What more could one ask from a midseason finale? This episode boasted a daring rescue, deaths, disfigurement, walker slaughter, startling revelations, violence, gore, a shocking return and a reunion of long-lost brothers. About the only thing missing was a really, really BIG explosion, but I’m glad the budget was spent on more amazing zombie prosthetic effects.
One of the problems TWD has (happily) created for itself was how to come up with something to top previous episodes, many of which have felt like final episodes themselves. But this installment had action and emotion, and when it was all over, Andrea had the entire mad tableau of Woodbury lying at her feet: In a room covered with snapping walker heads, the Governor, with a shard of glass in right eye, sat weeping over the corpse of a little girl biter.
Imagine you’re Rick and you’d previously sent ace scavengers Glenn and Maggie to find formula for your newborn daughter, but hours later a living woman with a grimace that can kill at 50 yards arrives at the gates of your prison home carrying a katana and the mother lode of infant formula; you might justifiably have a few questions. Questions such as, What happened to Glenn? What happened to Maggie? Were all those phone calls from the Great Beyond covered by my calling plan?
Glenn (Steven Yeun) was at moment, duct-taped to a chair in Woodbury while being tortured/interrogated by Merle (Michael Rooker) the Backwoods Pirate with Knife Attachment. But no matter how much Merle beat and cut him, Glenn would not reveal the location of his camp. So Merle tosses a biter into the room to deal with Glenn. Except the tied-up Glenn fights back and brains the biter. Then the Governor (David Morrissey) goes to work on Maggie (Lauren Cohan), turning on the charm by forcing her to strip and then pretending he’s going to rape her. But she won’t crack either. It’s only when the Guv threatens to gut Glenn that Maggie gives up the prison.
This week Rick was hounded by phone calls from beyond the grave, and Michonne was hounded by Merle; in other words, both of them were trying to escape from their pasts. But ultimately they both had to turn and fight, Rick with words and Michonne with her katana.
Although the episode was divided, this was Andrew Lincoln’s Emmy reel. This is doubtless the episode he will submit in the academy. Rick went bye-bye, and Lincoln said hello to a meaty script that gave him a chance to demonstrate that he can play more than the stoic leader burdened by command.
In the comics, the phone conversations were how Rick worked through his grief over the death of Lori and their baby, and while the circumstances are quite different on the TV show, the calls served the same purpose here: Rick has a conversation with his conscience, and tries to figure out how to carry on in the face of his failure to protect everyone all the time.
This week’s story is unusual in that it does not feature our usual intrepid little band of survivors, instead focusing in on lost sheep Andrea and her new pal, the katana-wielding Michonne. But that doesn’t make this a bad episode; in fact, it’s a very important chapter. Merle is reintroduced (with a blade replacing his severed hand), the town of Woodbury is introduced, and we get to meet the man in charge – and the season’s Big Bad – the Governor. The Guv is a very popular character from the comic book series.
I tip my hat to The-Powers-That-Be for making an exposition-heavy episode so entertaining. This is one of those stories where characters are moved into place and conflicts are set up for future episodes, but the story still worked for me. And I’ve been wondering what was happening with Andrea and Michonne since they left their safe haven.
Everyone pretty much agrees that what was wrong with the last season of THE WALKING DEAD was that it featured too many humans sitting around a dull farm chatting and whining about a missing little girl, and too few walkers walking — and even fewer of those zombies getting dispatched in creatively gruesome, ichor-soaked ways.
Well, it is clear that executive producer/show-runner Glen Mazzara has taken those criticisms to heart, because the premiere of the third season featured more zombies than all of last year’s shows combined, and our heroes got to kill them by the boatload in scenes of tense, close-up hand-to-hand combat.
Hey, kids, it’s almost Halloween (not really, but just work with me), and that means it’s almost time for AMC to bring back to life one of its signature series, THE WALKING DEAD.
When the show rises again, it will be with an expanded cast. Joining Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln) merry band of survivors will be the mysterious, katana-wielding Michonne (Danai Gurira) — just in time to go up against new villain the Governor (David Morrisey). But is the Governor really a bad guy? Is his walker-free settlement, Woodbury, a paradise or something else entirely? (If you’ve read the comics, keep quiet!) Check out these cool new photos!
THE WALKING DEAD returns with the first of 16 new episodes — that’s right, 16, the longest season yet — Oct. 14 on AMC.