BLU-RAY REVIEW: THE WALKING DEAD – THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON / CERT: 18 / DIRETOR: VARIOUS / SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: ANDREW LINCOLN, DAVID MORRISSEY, NORMAN REEDUS, STEVEN YEUN, DANAI GURIRA / RELEASED: SEPTEMBER 29TH
By now we’re all familiar with the formula of The Walking Dead -- a zombie-filled world that is used as the setting for a strong, multi-layered narrative with characters who have been steadily fleshed out and expanded throughout the show’s run. And this fourth season provides exactly what you would expect and exactly what you would hope for.
Story-wise, we open up to Rick Grimes (Lincoln) and his group of survivors at their apparent safe haven of a prison complex. Whilst Rick is seemingly ready to put down the gun and focus his time on growing crops, this doesn’t last long. First up, a flu-like infection is spreading through the complex, killing and reanimating faces both familiar and new. And just when that problem seems to have died down, The Governor’s (Morrissey) good eye is revealed to be firmly watching the group. After a monumental battle, the prison is near-enough destroyed, forcing the surviving numbers to splinter into separate groups, all with the same mission: to head to the idyllic safety of a location called simply Terminus.
Character-wise, Season 4 sees a lot of development for certain characters, particularly some of the younger faces like the once-redundant Beth (Emily Kinney) and the once-annoying Carl (Chandler Riggs). Andrew Lincoln’s Rick goes through some heavy changes throughout the season’s run, moving from pig-rearing idealist to literally ripping somebody’s throat out. And, as ever, there are some majorly traumatic moments. Yes, visually there’s a lot going on in terms of walker carnage, but the emotional complexities of some of the show’s smaller arcs makes for sublime television. On that front, it’s hard not to think of the journey that Melissa McBride’s Carol goes on during Season 4; her logic might often seem skewed, but she ends up having to do some truly heartbreaking things.
What’s even more enjoyable about Season 4 is that we get to see the focus spread across the group during the second half. Here, with the prison home now seemingly a distant memory, each episode gives its time to just a handful of characters, granting these small pockets of survivors some much needed backstory or at least more to do than merely standing in the background whilst Rick, Daryl (Reedus), et al hog centre-stage.
This latest season gave The Walking Dead’s format a nice shot in the arm, intertwining the obvious splatter action of the walkers with skilfully planned stories involving characters that you now care for, whilst also raising the profile of some cast members who until this season were merely there to serve as background noise and potential walker fodder. Again this show maintains the high standards that it’s set itself. And again we find ourselves eagerly awaiting Season 5 and the chance to discover just what this whole Terminus thing is about.
Extras: Selected Audio Commentaries / Deleted Scenes / Featurettes