Yes, it’s that time of year again: a plethora of TV shows start their new seasons. There's plenty to choose from, with the likes of Arrow, American Horror Story: Coven, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Boardwalk Empire jostling for ratings, so these new seasons and shows need to hit the ground running and give their audience something that’s worth investing their time in. AMC’s The Walking Dead is a phenomenon of modern TV. In a time where every good show is deemed the best TV show of all time – see The Sopranos, Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad – The Walking Dead has just as much a claim to such a moniker as anyone else.
The third season went out with a bang with plenty of deaths, reanimations and further deaths and the escalated tension between Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and The Governor (David Morrissey) coming to a head. Now, in the aftermath of all this, we pick things up where Rick’s group of survivors have opened their doors to further stragglers. With these newcomers come new characters, new dynamics, new cliques, and new problems. A relatively uneventful return – by some of The Walking Dead’s more shocking standards, at least – the show seems to set out to hammer home a particular message to the viewer. That message is that death is now the norm, sadness and emotion are non-present, relationships are disposable, and the ‘walkers’ are no longer seen as a major threat to some.
With the new additions to the community that Rick’s put together in an abandoned prison, we see the structure of the group changing. Rick, Darryl (Norman Reedus) and some of the older members of the group are charged with making the important decisions, whilst others use their spare time to educate others. For example, we get to see young children learning how to use a knife, and the newer members of the group are given training on how to take down the walkers.
As ever with The Walking Dead – which you should know by now – seemingly everyone is expendable. Carrying on the pattern of the previous three seasons, this fourth season again gives you the sense that nobody is safe – that experienced, valuable characters can be offed just as easy as one of the show’s, slow-moving, walkers.
This is a solid, welcome return, and this fourth season has a lot to live up to. As Andrew Lincoln’s Rick (anybody else just want to call him Egg?) is becoming more and more closed off to the world around him, it appears that there’s far worse on its way. As so often with The Walking Dead, the end of the episode gives you a nice big hint at what’s coming in episode 2, and where the season is heading. Here’s hoping that the show keeps up the high standards that it’s managed to set itself over the last few years. Oh, and be sure to keep an eye out for raining zombies…