The Walking Dead, a TV show based on Robert Kirkman’s hit comic of the same name, just had its season 4 premier three weeks ago. The hit AMC show has been on TV for 3 years and has been nominated for many awards including a Golden Globe for Best Television Series Drama.
The fourth season starts seven months after the events of the third and once again star Sheriff Rick Grimes, played by Andrew Lincoln, and a small group of survivors trying to make a new life in a world overrun with zombies.
In the third season, the survivors found themselves in a prison that they quickly fortified to keep zombies as well as people out. The main antagonist of the third season was The Governor, played by David Morrissey. At the end of the fourth season, Grimes and his group were able to defeat the Governor and bring the people of the town Woodbury to the prison.
The third season of The Walking Dead was criticized for killing too many of the the main characters too quickly. With over 40 characters dying in season 3 alone, it would be easy to stop caring for the characters if you just assumed that they would die before the season finished.
However, season 4 of The Walking Dead remedies this problem quite easily, with the many unnamed extras from the town of Woodbury now at the prison, it is quite easy to still have zombies killing people, but the main characters of the show will be able to survive.
While I welcome as much zombie gore as possible, the deaths of the main characters in season three did have an emotional impact that shows the unpredictability of the zombie apocalypse, where no character is sacred and everyone can be killed.
However, there are still main characters getting killed in season four. Tyreese’s girlfriend Karen is killed at the end of the second episode. While this scene is supposed to be shocking to the viewers, it hardly has any impact because Karen didn’t have any time to develop as a character. We see Tyreese crying over her body, but how is the audience supposed to feel anything if we have only seen her for two episodes.
The Walking Dead has been ironically criticized for having too few zombies in it. In the second season of the show there were very few zombies apart from a few key episodes. Season three definitely had more zombies in it, but they seemed to be in the background compared to the main conflict between Ricks’ group and The Governor. While this is understandable, as the apocalypse progresses the zombies become less of a threat and more of a hindrance for the survivors, it is nice to see survivors fighting the zombies again in season four.
The Walking Dead has always had a good story since the first season. Despite some plot holes, like the fact that some zombies seem to be able to run and climb fences when the plot demands it, the story has remained engrossing throughout.
The theme of The Walking Dead has always been that the zombies are never the true danger and that it is humans and other forms of nature that are the biggest threat.
Season four continues this theme with a new enemy for the survivors to fight, disease. The danger of disease is twofold; not only does it kill survivors quite easily, but once survivors die, they come back as zombies, even if they aren’t bitten. This creates an interesting moment where a person can fall asleep with a cold and wake up as a zombie while never leaving their room. This new plot-line is interesting as it will pit the survivors against something they can’t even fight, which the The Walking Dead has not yet done.
Despite the amazing practical effects and makeup, it’s the characters of the show that keep fans returning each season. Each character has a distinct personality and role in the group, which makes it all the more difficult to see some of the most beloved characters killed. These moments are some of the most memorable of the show and reinforce the fact that no character is safe from death.
The oppressive nature of the show is what makes The Walking Dead the show it is and what separates it from other award winning shows like Breaking Bad.
Despite the few hiccups, The Walking Dead has still remained a good example of what television can be. Hopefully season four will continue to develop its new characters before the writers of the show inevitably kill them. As always, the zombie gore is some of the best practical effects I have ever seen and continue to shock me with what the makeup artists are able to achieve with the relatively limited budget of 2.8 million dollars compared to movies with budgets that can be greater than 100 million dollars. The effects can range from a zombie with half of its face missing to half of a crawling, partially decomposed zombie, all done with practical effects and makeup
I loved The Walking Dead since the very first episodes and I still do, despite the problems the show has, it continues to be an interesting TV series that re-imagines the comic books in a fantastic way.