TWD S4 Ep 1: “30 Days Without Incident” by Dusty

L.C. and I have decided to do a sort of dueling reviews thing for The Walking Dead this year.  You can read her review of this episode here.

What I’m drinking: Ginger ale, because I feel kind of terrible.

Six things that annoyed me:

1. The huge heaping of “Daryl love” at the beginning of the episode.  All of the new faces screaming our their undying affection like they were at a Beatles show.  (Or is that Justin Bieber show now?  Man…I’m old.)  It was like the writers were just winking at the audience.  “We know that you love him.  See how we’re acknowledging that love?”  It was like the episode of Lost where they buried Nikki and Paulo.  “We know how much you hate them.  We’ll bury them alive to let you know that we hear you.”  It’s all just a bit too obvious.

2. Maggie’s southern accent.  Has it always sounded like that?  She speaks with a southern accent like someone who has never actually heard a southern accent.  “Don’t worry guys.  I’ve read half of Gone With the Wind.  I got this.”

3. Rick’s line of “You will be the one who loses,” to his Irish femme fatale.  It sounded a bit too close to Heisenberg’s “I am the one who knocks,” but not nearly as awesome.  Even worse for Rick, that line wasn’t even one of Heisenberg’s most badass line (I’m partial to the simplicity of “Tread lightly” or “I won,” but I’m a simple man, with simple tastes).

4. D’Angelo Barksdale jumping off the wagon in favor of cheap CostCo wine.  C’mon man.  There were a dozen cases of Sweetwater behind you, none of which were sitting on shelves decayed by years of neglect and zombie blood.  Avon would be so disappointed in you.

5. The entire Rick storyline.  It was entirely too slow, and the outcome was obvious from a very early stage.  The message also seemed pretty obvious, but then they had to go ahead and shove that message right down our throats.  “That could’ve been me,” Rick said to Hershel.  We know.  We get it.  They could have had the storyline in there and not had that conversation, or ignored that storyline and just put in a 30 second conversation and the same message would have gotten across.
For as much as I love the remake of Night of the Living Dead, there’s a line at the end that has always bugged me.  Barbara has survived the night, and she is standing outside the house, watching her rescuers drunkenly fight zombies, torture them, and, in general, just act like monsters.  She is appalled.  She says, “They’re us.  We’re them and they’re us.”  But we already got it.  Watching those atrocities with her, we had already come to the conclusion that we were the monster every bit as much as they were.  I didn’t need it spelled out for me.  It took what could have been a subtle point and shoved it in our faces.  “See?!  Do you see what we’re trying to say here?!”
That’s exactly how Rick’s storyline felt to me.

6. The Paul Pfeiffer reveal at the end.  For starters, I didn’t even know that kid.  I know he’s immature and says things like “yack all over people,” but that’s it.  At least Zach was a little likable.  I was kind of sad to see him die.  But Paul?  I didn’t really care one way or another about him.
Of course, I suppose it’s setting up something for the rest of the season.  Perhaps the deer he was raving to Daryl about had been infected?  I’m interested to see how Paul was infected, and what that means for the rest of the survivors.  For now, this is an annoyance, but I reserve the right to change my mind based on where it takes the story.

Two things I liked:

1. Big fan of the zombie defense doors.  That was a cool little touch that they obviously spent some time thinking about.  They open out and impale the zombies on wooden spikes.  Much better than opening that chain-link fence every time.

2. The zombie-head-in-a-bag (or, as he was known to his bonnie lass, “Eddie”).  I know it was probably just a head in a bag, but part of me wants to believe she had buried the lower half of him in the ground and only left his head sticking up, like Cliff Clavin in Motel Hell.

Final thoughts:
Not a bad episode.  Some pretty good action in the middle.  Not much in the way of needless drama (this show loses me when the drama gets too big).  The Rick storyline could have been cut out, as well as the dozens of shots of random characters looking off into the distance, deep in thought.

Still, not a bad start to the season.  I’m glad it skipped ahead a bit in the timeline.  Had it picked up right where season 3 left off, we would’ve been in for some boring storylines.  But this shows a little bit of promise.  It raises some interesting questions for the future.  I am not dreading next week’s episode.  Progress!