An infectious disease, a murder and the return of an old enemy mark the start of latest season of The Walking Dead.
WARNING: To those who don’t want any spoilers for the first six episodes of The Walking Dead Season 4 (the current season showing in Malaysia), stop reading now!
If you’re still reading, then I assume you are interested in finding out what has been going on so far in the latest season of this zombie apocalypse hit TV series.
After the emotional rollercoaster of the Woodbury and Governor (Bill Morissey) story arc in the last season, things kick off at the prison, where a few changes have taken place.
Former leader Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) has essentially taken a sabbatical from leading the group of survivors, and gone into pig-rearing and vegetable-growing.
Filling his shoes are redneck hunter and tracker Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) and the group’s moral compass, veterinarian Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson).
The group at the prison has also grown as other survivors who have been picked up have joined in.
This surprised me, considering Rick’s previous attitude towards taking on more people: In the last season, Rick ignored a backpacker and drove past him. After the guy got eaten by nearby Walkers, Rick stopped to pick up his backpack! That was seriously cold.
The new people include the alcoholic former army medic Bob Stookey (Lawrence Gilliard Jr), who is the last survivor of two other groups. I can’t say that I’ve warmed up to Stookey so far, even though he has an interesting back story. But we will be seeing more of him this season.
While the first episode starts out peacefully enough, the survivors are soon thrown into a crisis when a young man gets sick and dies in the shower.
Upon reanimation, he, of course, proceeds to find people to chomp on, throwing the prison into chaos and panic.
While the survivors manage to deal with the newly-created Walkers, the far greater threat lies with the mysterious infectious disease, which soon spreads like wildfire throughout the prison quarters.
Even worse is the murder of the two people who were initially quarantined in an attempt to stop the illness from spreading.
As the group tries to desperately scavenge for medicine, Hershel goes into the quarantine ward to tend to the sick, which includes his son-in-law-to-be Glenn (Steven Yeun), and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), who was introduced last season.
Rick also confronts the unexpected murderer – Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride), former abused wife, mother of the lost Sophie and the group’s nurturer and orders her to leave the group.
I have to say kudos to both the show’s writers and McBride for developing Carol so well that this surprising revelation made sense within the emotional context of the character, when it originally wouldn’t have.
In addition, someone has been secretly feeding the Walkers at a particular section of the fence with rats, leading to a huge group of the reanimated corpses gathering there.
Eventually, the horde becomes too big, and the fence gives way one night, forcing Rick and Carl (Chandler Riggs) to kill them all.
As if that’s not enough, the show’s producers decided to suddenly leave the prison altogether, and reintroduce the Governor.
While I wasn’t sure how this would work at first – I was really getting back into the original group’s story, and didn’t entirely appreciate that storyline being dumped for The Governor – last Sunday’s episode certainly proved intriguing.
After all, who doesn’t like a good redemption story, especially about a character for whom the seeds of sympathy have already been planted?
Judging by the trailer, the next episode also seems to focus on the Governor, now calling himself Brian Heriot, who has found a new family and who has joined a group led by his former henchman, Ceasar Martinez (Jose Pablo Cantillo).
With 10 more episodes left to go in the season, I’m sure there are many more twists and turns in store for all our favourite characters in The Walking Dead.
The main thing I’ve noticed so far is the further development of many of the original and supporting characters, who might have been somewhat neglected in the earlier seasons.
While I’m sure we can expect more Walker action, and likely, human conflict as well, what I’m most looking forward to is seeing where and how much further the writers are going to take these characters.
> The Walking Dead airs every Sunday at 11pm, on Fox Movies Premium (Astro Ch 413/HD Ch 433).