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‘The Walking Dead’ Season Premiere Review: “30 Days Without An Accident”

The Walking Dead Season 4 Premiere Review 30 Days Without An Accident
AMC

The Walking Dead’ season 4 brings to life its first episode of the new year “30 Days Without An Accident,” as a supply run between the survivors and new Woodbury recruits quickly goes amiss, while Rick attempts to help a mysterious stranger in the woods, and a new threat arises within the prison.

Last season’s ‘The Walking Dead’ finale “Welcome to the Tombs” saw Rick and the others defending the prison from an attack by the Governor, while Andrea struggled to free herself from one of the Governor’s traps, and the battle came to a surprising outcome, so what does the first episode of season 4 bring?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘The Walking Dead’ season 4 episode 1, season premiere “30 Days Without An Accident!”

Rick awakens for his dawn farming routine, donning headphones to keep out the sounds of the ambient walkers beyond the fence, and finding a gun buried among the dirt. Carl joins him a short while later, noticing that one of the pigs among their stock seems to have fallen ill. Elsewhere, Daryl passes through the Woodbury crew eating breakfast, a bit uncomfortable about the reverence others have for him, before Carol points out that they seem to have had an extra buildup of walkers around the fences.

Glenn spares Maggie from going on a run that day, much as Tyreese visits his new lady love Karen, and explains how he prefers going on supply runs to killing walkers along the fences. Beth guardedly refuses to say goodbye to her own love interest Zack, while new recruit Bob Stookey (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) convinces Sasha to allow him to pull his weight by helping with the run. Michonne returns on horseback to the prison, having failed to find the Governor once more, and just as quickly offering to head back out on the run.

Hershel confronts Rick about the “council” wishing he’d take his gun before heading outside to check the nearby trips, something he reluctantly accepts. Outside in the wilderness, Rick sees a boar apparently dead of natural causes, before hiding from a figure that emerges from the trees to investigate it. Once Rick attempts to sneak away however, the figure quickly reveals herself as human, and begs for Rick’s help. Rick reluctantly offers her a sandwich, and agrees to take her and her husband back to camp, but only if he meets the man and asks them each three questions.

Carl chides some of his fellow youths for naming the walkers on the fences, before both the girls and Carl’s older friend Patrick head off to “story time.” Meanwhile, the team of Daryl, Michonne, Tyreese, Sasha, Glenn, Bob and Zack arrive to a fenced-off Big Spot superstore, and secure the front entrance for walkers, while Zack attempts his daily guess at what Daryl did for a living before the apocalypse. The team enters the store, unaware that dozens of walkers and a downed military helicopter continue weighing on the building’s roof.

Rick continually follows the disheveled woman back to her husband as she explains how she had to adapt to a more savage way of living, while the team investigates the Big Spot. Bob longingly eyes a bottle of wine, before placing it back on the rack, and accidentally sending the entire shelf crashing down on him, alerting the walkers on the roof to their presence. The team struggles to free Bob from under the shelf, while walker after walker comes raining down from the weakened roof above. Bob finally gets free, though Zack gets bitten and killed in the process, and the chopper brings the entire roof down as the survivors escape.

Rick arrives with the woman to her camp, quickly seeing that “Eddie” is nowhere to be found, but only a writhing head under a cloth. The woman lunges for Rick with a knife, but quickly finds herself outmatched, explaining that Eddie needs something living to feed on. The woman reasons that she needs to be with Eddie, and begs Rick not to stop the change, stabbing herself in the gut. As she dies, the woman asks what Rick’s three questions were, to which he asks how many walkers she’d killed, how many people she’d killed, and for what reason. The woman explains that she’d only killed herself, reasoning that people don’t get to come back from the edge, before she finally dies.

Back at the prison, Carol leads the children in story-time, until the last parent leaves and the conversation quickly turns to teaching the youths about proper knife use. Patrick suddenly falls ill and leaves, as Carl catches Carol teaching the children, for which Carol asks that he not tell his father. Outside after his return, Rick sees that the pig “Violet” has finally succumb to its illness, and Tyreese returns to Karen, admitting he doesn’t like going on runs either. Inside, Maggie tells Glenn that she isn’t pregnant as they’d thought, though she wouldn’t want to rule out trying in the future.

Daryl tells Beth about the fate of Zack, for which she only rolls back her “days without an accident” sign, and expresses modest relief she had known him well enough before his death. Michonne plots her next attempt to find the Governor in Macon, while Hershel assures Rick that people can come back from the edge, unlike what the woman in the woods believed. Bob finds himself unable to sleep, while a rapidly deteriorating Patrick goes to the prison showers, before finally collapsing of his illness. A short interval after, the body awakens as a walker.

And we’re back! We couldn’t have known exactly how ‘The Walking Dead’ would pick up its action after veering so sharply from the comic tale in the season 3 finale, but we’re happy to see that the influx of Woodbury population has managed to freshen things up a bit, while plenty of ambient walker danger arises to keep us all in fear. Not only that, but it looks like the mysterious new threat has finally been revealed … disease!

Disease certainly makes sense as a palpable new danger to plague a group of survivors holed up in an abandoned facility, wherein medical supplies would be in short supply, and old world threats finally catch up to the new. And wherever the Governor is, for that matter, it doesn’t appear as if he’ll be popping up for his particular brand of one-eyed menace anytime soon. Instead, “30 Days Without An Accident” wisely relies on the walkers for its biggest moments, with a little bit of twisted reflection for Rick in seeing what he might have become without his family and friends to bring him back from the edge last season.

Also worth noting is that tonight’s premiere marks the first under new showrunner Scott M. Gimple, known for crafting some of the better episodes of the series, such as season 2′s “Pretty Much Dead Already,” and landmark season 3 installments “Clear” and “This Sorrowful Life.” Unfortunately, the overload of new characters and concepts overshadows any real depth, or emotional intrigue “30 Days Without An Accident” might have had, though the tense and impressive Big Spot sequence more than makes up for any lacking sentiment. Whether by zombies hanging from their guts, or literally raining down death from above, we’re glad to see that ‘The Walking Dead’ will never tire of finding more and more inventive and gruesome action to keep variety in its premise.

So, what do we make of all the new additions for the year? It’s hard to get a grip on Bob Stookey as of yet, as his apparent history with alcohol feel more like a tangential struggle than any real character definition. We’re not given much to go on with any of the other survivors, even the returning Karen, so hopefully future episodes can justify their presence beyond redshirts to be killed at a moment’s notice. Patrick’s ultimate turning will surely bring a few down with him next week, making the characters feel more like a means to an end, than anything else. At the very least, we can measure some observable impact felt with the established survivors, now that Rick and Carl seemed to have returned from the edge, while even Daryl finds himself as something of a heroic figure.

All in all “30 Days Without An Accident” makes for an effective premiere with plenty of strong action and character beats to prime us for the season to come, though lacking a bit in any real surprises or shifts that the prior finale might have promised. The intel we got from this weekend’s New York Comic-Con previewed some tense moments and surprise character additions to keep things interesting over the coming weeks, even if tonight’s premiere doesn’t quite herald the same level of excitement.

Well, what say you? Did you get your fill of thrilling zombie killing?  What did you think about tonight’s premiere “30 Days Without An Accident”? Check out all our other ‘Walking Dead’ season 4 coverage, and join us next week for another all-new episode recap of episode 2, “Infected,” on AMC!

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