The Walking Dead Season 4 Episode 1 recap

We’re embarking a new season of The Walking Dead, the first one that is Horrible Lori-free, and we’ve also disposed of Andrea who, like this show itself, never lived up to her potential but was sucky and annoying. The show has considerable ground to make up after three seasons of literal stumbling around in the wilderness, searching for a point, but there’s reason to hope season four will be better.

An indeterminate amount of time on from the collapse of Woodbury, Rick & Co. are achieving at the prison everything the Governor was trying to do, minus the creepy cult aspect. They’ve got the place fortified like a castle, there’s a governing council, Michonne has a horse, and Herschel is teaching Rick how to farm. This is way too cozy and nice. Sh*t’s going to get weird soon.

Questions re: life on the prison farm. 1) Where did Rick get that iPod? 2) How does he charge that iPod? And 3) WHERE ARE THEY GETTING THE GAS FOR THAT F*CKING HYUNDAI?

Life at the prison is a simulacrum of normal. Daryl and Michonne take groups into town for supply runs while Rick walks around the woods (STUFF & THINGS), a group of nameless folk kill zombies along the fence line (um, hello, World War Z’s Redeker Plan) and Carol oversees domestic stuff like cooking and story time for the kids. And Carol is—apparently behind Rick’s back—teaching the kiddies how to defend themselves and use knives to kill zombies. Also, everyone is getting it at the prison. Glenn and Maggie, Tyrese has a new girl, Rick and Michonne show a little glimpse of that chemistry they developed late last season, and even Luna Lovegood is flirting with a new guy (Kyle Gallner of Veronica Mars fame). So I guess she’s no longer crushing on Rick.

Speaking of Tyrese, this drove me crazy all last season. Every time he would show up, I would be like—he looks so familiar. Well I finally placed it. He’s Z from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia! The question now is, does he boil his denim? Also, WHY IS TYRESE A PUSSY? “I don’t want to be on fence duty, but I don’t want to go on supply runs either.” If all you’re going to do is stand around and whine, just do us a favor and get eaten by a zombie now.

This episode accomplishes a lot in terms of reacquainting us with Rick & Co. while also including a creepy “Rick in the woods” plot and an effective zombie attack in a Large Mart. We get to see just enough of the prison farm to get that life has been going pretty well there, and that Daryl has become the capable number two we always knew he was meant to be. He might even be overtaking Rick as the alpha, since Rick is still somewhat in STUFF & THINGS mode, running around in the woods on his own, and apparently not taking his gun with him as some kind of latent death wish.

Daryl remains the best. Go back and watch the pilot—his character has come so far, but they’ve earned every step (one of the few things they’ve done entirely right). His relationship with Carol is still borderline creepy, but his relationship with Rick is great and it looks like he’s got a burgeoning friendship with Michonne, too. They’re united by a desire to hunt down the Governor, who’s maybe fled to Macon (Rick seems inclined to let it go). He’s also got an admirer on the prison farm, some weedy kid he brought in to safety who is clearly going to die within four episodes.

Carl, however, is still the worst. And somehow, in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, he is finding time to be a comic book nerd. Is this supposed to humanize him? To make up for the whole psychopath thing from last season? Because it doesn’t. Now we’re just encouraging methodical collecting habits in a budding serial killer.

Glenn gets downgraded to second worst. He sort of derailed along about halfway through season three, going from Rick’s tactician to some whiny guy who smothers Maggie because she’s a capable badass, and they seemed doomed to repeat the whole “to baby, or not to baby” debate that Horrible Lori and Rick already went through with Judith. If this is how it’s going to go, Glenn can throw himself on the zombie pile with Tyrese.

Rick, doing STUFF & THINGS, encounters a weird half-zombie-looking Scandinavian chick who wants to join the prison farm along with her husband. He goes to meet the mister because they need to answer three questions before being allowed to join the collective. Somehow the weird Scandinavian chick is way scarier than the zombie attack in the Large Mart. The attack is scary and gross even by Walking Dead standards (and one of the newbies is battling alcoholism in the middle of the zombie apocalypse—interesting), but the creep factor of the half-zombie chick is through the roof.

And, yep, she’s batsh*t bonkers and wants to feed Rick to her zombified husband’s zombie head.

The three questions: How many walkers have you killed? How many people? Why?

There’s been a lot of gross stuff in this episode—the cut-in-half zombie, the zombie hanging itself by its entrails, a chewed up deer carcass—but Kyle Gallner getting eaten alive is pretty goddamn awful.

And poor Luna Lovegood! But Daryl telling her about Kyle Gallner is a sweet moment. And finding out she keeps a diary seems like too deliberate a detail to be meaningless. Assume payoff down the road.

The resolve: Life is stabilizing at the prison farm but people are still dying, Rick is still worried about the effect of all this death and killing (especially on Carl), Daryl is the sh*t, Glenn and Tyrese are useless, and the nerdy kid didn’t even last the episode. He died in the showers of something that looks like maybe cholera or dysentery?

And, oh yeah, they all become zombies when they die, so now there’s a zombie inside the prison.

Status Check:
Officer Rick – Gentleman farmer.
Daryl – Badass with a heart of gold.
Michonne – Searching for the Governor, hounding Rick to shave.
Carl – Learning to organize and catalog his kills.
Glenn – Suddenly, unlikeable.

Worst thing seen/heard this episode: There was a LOT to choose from, but it’ll have to be Kyle Gallner being eaten alive.

Zombie kill of the week: Also a lot to choose from, but I’m giving it to Daryl with a boot to the head.