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Commentary: ‘Walking Dead’ premiere sets series in new direction (Spoilers)

Norman Reedus, center, and Steven Yeun are shown on the set of 'The Walking Dead,' which premiered its fourth season Sunday. Credit: Courtesy of MCT

Norman Reedus, center, and Steven Yeun in a scene from ‘The Walking Dead,’ which premiered its fourth season Oct. 13.
Credit: Courtesy of MCT

Note: This article contains full spoilers for the show, if you are a newcomer to the series, refrain from reading.

We’ve seen creepy little girl zombies lifelessly clutching stuffed animals, we’ve seen the bloating, pompous creatures emerging from wells, the severed halves of people pawing through the grass and even best friends coming back from the dead with the taste for flesh in their eyes. But who would think we would see a zombie hanging from the ceiling by his guts, spinning helplessly while parts of him dangled away resembling some sort of holiday ornament?

Yes, Season 4 of “The Walking Dead” is here.

Set an unknown number of months later, the premiere slowly introduced us to the many changes Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and the gang have undergone, including the many aesthetic changes to the prison setting.

We got to see farmer Rick in action, raising enough vegetables and livestock to feed the growing number of survivors within the prison walls. Carol (Melissa McBride) was portrayed as an epic mother figure, secretly training the many new children defensive tactics in her “storytime sessions.”

Countless new faces were introduced, including romance interests for both Tyreese (Chad Coleman) and Beth (Emily Kinney), though poor Beth can’t seem to keep a guy in her life for very long, given her brother and boyfriend both fell victim to the zombies.

The episode did a great job of introducing the new scenery as well as balancing some horrific action, which was downright chaotic. A search party led by Daryl (Norman Reedus) had to dodge literal raining walkers, falling through the ceiling of a supermarket because the newcomer Bob Stookey (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) had a small mental struggle with his alcohol addiction.

Rick was led unwittingly through the forest by a woman that could make anyone shuffle uncomfortably in their chairs. Hair matted, eyes desperate and barely any meat left on her bones, she resembled someone a mere breath away from becoming a walker. The old Rick wouldn’t have given this woman the time of day, but this bearded sheriff seems to have resolved most of his past issues.

His “three questions” as well as the mention of “the council” opened many questions regarding prison operations. Where has Michonne (Danai Gurira) been riding off to on that horse, chasing The Governor (David Morrissey)? Where will Tyreese fit in with his quest to gain more respect in the community? What the heck is the story between Daryl and Carol?

Small amounts of humor were peppered throughout the episode as sighs of relief, especially through Daryl. It was particularly funny to see how everyone in the fictional “community” loves him, more than likely paying homage to his gigantic fan base outside of the show.

Comics were mentioned multiple times, especially as Carl’s newfound interest, creating a sense of self-awareness between the show and the graphic novels. Comic book fans can keep their fingers crossed in anticipation of what’s to come, with regards to the show’s obvious differences.

Scott Gimple, the new showrunner for this season of zombie mania, has taken helm and is on point to set the familiar series in new directions. The premiere last Sunday was example of Gimple’s work combined with countless others that are responsible for the show’s continued success.

A new theme was woven throughout the premiere, and was even eerily mentioned by the crazy lady in the woods: “Can we come back from the things we’ve done?” This new angle presents many opportunities for fresh ideas — rather than the struggle to survive — as the group is faced with clinging on to what little of them remains human. Character development will be at an all-time high detailing the effects of the outbreak on each person’s psyche, and we can expect some chilling outcomes.

“30 Days Without an Accident” laid the stepping stones for the many things to come this season. Several characters, both old and new, are set up for arcs that will no doubt surprise and awe the audience. Right now, unbeknown to the other characters, the newcomer Patrick (Vincent Martella) is writhing on the prison shower floor getting hungrier by the second for flesh, just waiting to wreak havoc when next week’s episode debuts. Get ready, “Walking Dead” fans, the prison is about to be a whole lot less safe.

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