Maya Zach ’17/ Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Season 4 of The Walking Dead kicks off approximately six weeks after the previous season finale. In that time, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and the original crew seem to have adjusted well to the large group of Woodbury folks that has joined them at the prison. They have developed a Council (which consists of at least Rick, Hershel (Scott Wilson), Daryl (Norman Reedus), Glenn (Steven Yeun), Carol (Melissa McBride), and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) to make the important decisions, rather than leaving the burden on Rick’s shoulders. They have set up a farming system that incorporates plants and livestock. They even have a well-developed system of killing walkers at the fences. And there are finally other kids and teenagers for Carl (Chandler Riggs) and Beth (Emily Kinney) to spend time with. Beth is dating a teenager from Woodbury, Zack (Kyle Gallner), while Carl argues with all of the younger kids, except for Patrick (Vincent Martella).
When Rick leaves the prison to check the snares, he runs into a woman who looks so disheveled she could be mistaken for a walker. Clara (Kerry Condon) begs for Rick’s help, hoping that she and her husband can join his merry band of survivors. Rick promises that they can join them as long as they answer his three questions. When they arrive at Clara’s camp, she ambushes him with a knife. Her husband had turned and she couldn’t live without him, so she kept him alive and tried to turn Rick into dinner. The guilt she felt for doing this was evident, but she didn’t regret it. As she holds the knife up to her neck, she begs Rick to let her turn after she kills herself. Before she dies, Rick whispers these questions to her: How many walkers have you killed? How many people have you killed? And why? Rick, with tears in his eyes, walks away and lets her turn.
Meanwhile, Daryl, Glenn, Sasha, Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman), Michonne (Danai Gurira), Zack, and Bob (Lawrence Gillard Jr.), a newcomer, go on a supply run to a supermarket that they had previously cleared of walkers . All seems good and well, until the ceiling starts to cave in, due to a crashed helicopter sitting on the roof. After a fierce struggle, everyone makes it out alive. Well, everyone but Zack. Daryl is the one that breaks the news to Beth, and she takes it surprisingly well. Uncharacteristically well, actually. She shrugs it off without a tear. She knew that there was a chance that he would die and was half expecting it. It’s easier to just dismiss it than to actually deal with it. Beth has been the group’s beacon of light; she has always been able to lift the group’s spirits through her chipper attitude and songs. The fact that her attitude has darkened and her happy personality has dimmed is a sign that the group’s hope will begin to diminish.
Though Beth’s mood has blackened, everyone else seems to be in high spirits. They have a very well developed system of collecting, growing, and cooking food, and are surrounded by people that they trust (at least to some extent). They appear to have been lulled into a false sense of security. They aren’t oblivious, they know that it’s dangerous outside of the prison and they will never forget that, but for the most part they aren’t concerned about what is going on around them. It seems like this could have been the perfect opportunity to throw the group a curveball. Possibly even killing one of their own–one that Rick’s crew and the audience are actually attached to, that is.
But maybe they are doing just that. Patrick, the teenage boy that Carl seemed to get along with, becomes incredibly ill and his symptoms progress rapidly. He rushes to the shower in the middle of the night to cool off from (what we can only assume is) a fever, where he collapses. After a beautifully drawn out shot of the water slowly ceasing to drip, the camera angles towards Patrick, where his face is completely covered in blood. He then opens his eyes, revealing the dead eyes of a walker. It seems incredibly unlikely that Patrick had been bitten, since he has stayed securely within the confines of the gates. So what could this strange disease that he contracted be? As Patrick grew sick and died, so did Violet the pig. Were they infected with the same virus? Patrick’s death raises a lot of questions and complications that the group will have to deal with.
This episode was rather uneventful for an episode of The Walking Dead, and can be considered incredibly uneventful for a season premiere of the show. This is most likely a sign that something much, much worse is right around the corner. But it is a bit disappointing. After waiting for over six months, the viewers want to see action, suspense, and honestly, death. Though the episode was rather lacking in tension, it made up for it with the character interactions. The Walking Dead is, after all, a show about the characters. Seeing Zack joking with Daryl, Carl bonding with Patrick, Hershel counseling Rick again, Carol (secretly) teaching the kids about weaponry, and Carl actually respecting his father reminds the audience that they are in fact watching the show for the characters rather than the zombies (or so the executive producers hope). It reconnects the audience with their beloved characters…most likely just in time to see one die.