‘The Walking Dead’ Season Premiere: What Is in Store for Season 4?

The Walking Dead, Season 4, Episode 1Frank Ockenfels/AMC

If you caught the premiere, or even the promotional material, for The Walking Dead‘s fourth season, then you know a bit about the year to come. The main takeaways: there’s a whole new community of Woodburians living amongst the original troupe in the jail. They’re operating under the rule of a democratic council. Rick, a part of said council, is losing his mind. But all that hits the fan when there’s a breach.

The episode closes with a hint of said breach — one of the new youths falls dead inside the jail after suffering from what was assumed to be stress-induced nausea, but is in truth presumably the same infection that killed good ol’ Carl’s recently deceased pet pig. All the while, missions to town cost the group a plucky teenager, Michonne strategizes where to find the missing Governor, and Rick is provoked (by a wanton woman struggling to survive in the woods) to wonder whether or not he can truly recover from all of the things he’s done and experienced.

As is the function of most season premieres, Sunday night’s hour serves primarily as set-up: both for the state of affairs at the prison, the courses of action being cooked up by certain individuals therein, and the internal struggles suffered by others. So is any of it promising?

-We’re cracking the shell of Michonne. As she hones in on the Governor in her decidedly militaristic fashion, we also see her make fun of Daryl and bond with Carl over a mutual love of comic books.
-Speaking of Daryl, a one-off conversation with a now-deceased camp-mate asserts that we might learn (or at least explore) a little bit more about who he was before the outbreak. Is homicide detective really out of the question?
-Carol, on a steady incline from her defeated position circa Season 1, is secretly teaching the young camp residents about weapons and survivalism. Assuredly, and against Rick’s rules.

-The emotional and psychological struggle exhibited by Rick, via his encounter with a woman broken over the loss of her husband, isn’t much new for Walking Dead. It’s not a complete miss, but it doesn’t bring anything to the table that feels like we haven’t gone through it before. But maybe that’s the point — exhausting redundancy does feel like a sentiment you’d undertake during the zombie apocalypse.
-Perhaps one of our graphic novel-literate readers can enlighten us unto this: if the camp has been compromised, then does this mean the entire community will hit the road together? Seems like a heavy mass to carry. And if not, why bother having introduced this whole town if only to discard them so quickly? And that leads into the biggest problem:
-Too… many… characters.