Truth be told, I was frustrated enough with season 3 of AMC’s behemoth success The Walking Dead that I kind of forgot-on-purpose that it resurrected on Sunday. After all, Scandal, Revenge, and American Horror Story also started again recently…and frankly, I’ve found those to be more entertaining on the whole. Let’s not talk about my other television habits.
The season 4 opener is directed by horror makeup legend Greg Nicotero, and it starts the season off on the right foot. It re-establishes the old, points out the new, and throws into motion an important chain of events that (if we’re lucky and the writers do theirs jobs) may keep up the momentum. Rick’s community, which now includes the survivors of Woodbury, has a small farm outside the prison. They lead a relatively staid and unexciting life; everyone has chores and duties, whether they be clearing out the sow’s trough or poking the walkers with sharp things through the chain-link. The farm is, for lack of a better term, the new normal.
As I wrote in my recap of the season three finale, “Rick, stumbling through his own personal hell, hasn’t bothered to notice that his kid isn’t a kid anymore.” The season 3 finale arranged Carl and Rick to be completely at odds over the importance of mercy and the significance of “having a childhood.” Season 4 is puttering right along on that arc. Carl has undergone the beginnings of puberty since last season: his voice has lowered, his hair lengthened, his face hardened into a teenager’s pout. He named the prison sow Violet, and Rick chastises him that he shouldn’t name the animals – they aren’t long for this world. Rick says, “Do your chores, read comics, maybe read a book, go to story time!” Rick says softly. “Dad, that’s for kids,” Carl protests. “Yeah,” Rick agrees. He’s all but begging Carl to be a kid. Read more