45 min., 2013
Written by Scott M. Gimple
Directed by Greg Nicotero
My rating: ★★★★
And so we begin again…
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The following review is rated FM (Fresh Meat) for kickass walker related goodness and strong story lines featuring men with revolvers and crossbows. The views here do not reflect the thoughts of a completely sane person. They are being presented by a person that has grown up in a rather unseemly portion of town, taken recreational narcotics, and has been molested by a clown. Don’t feel compelled to read it all, hell I know I don’t. Albino, Mormon, and Republican reader discretion is advised.
I gave this review a three, but before I get my ass chewed by all you other fanatics it’s only because this premier unlike every other didn’t come fast and furious. It wasn’t full of fly by the seat of your pants action. Instead it was a slow burn and though it was a hell of an episode I’ve grown used to the break neck survival horror elements that made the franchise such a success.
The episode starts with a very different Rick farming in a converted part of the prison grounds when he stumbles upon a gun in the dirt as he hoes. The walkers are amassing in numbers but things seem to have gotten far better. With the former Woodbury residents and a few additional survivors’ he’s picked up along the way team Rick seems to have gotten back on track. I think this is mostly due to the council being formed after the season finale allowing Rick’s shoulders a nice decrease in the burden heaped upon them. Even Carl seems to be living like a real normal kid again reading comics by flashlight and helping his dad tend to the pigs they’ve pinned and other chores.
For all the peace and quiet it seems that there is a tone of disquiet among a few core members of the group. Rick seems okay but guarded, Carl seems to be resisting children’s activities like story time and Michonne is empty without a true victory over the Governor where she can sever his head from his shoulders rather than leave him disgraced yet alive to possibly fight another day. The other children, in particular some misguided sisters, seem to be naming walkers and thinking very pc thoughts like they aren’t dead, they’re just different. Even after Carl sets them straight, it seems this will be a recurring theme in later episodes.
Daryl, Maggie, Tyreese, and a guy named Bob all go on a supply run joined by the recently returned Michonne. Bob, thanks to his unfulfilled alcoholic cravings, takes a bottle from the shelves and slams it back on there in defiance of his addiction causing a cascade of falling shelves grabbing the attention of all the walkers in the vicinity. As they make a narrow escape losing one of their own in the process it only adds insult to injury since they have nothing to show for the trip in the end.
Meanwhile, Rick, while outside the fence, finds another female survivor that he interviews for potential induction into the group on the way to her husband to retrieve him from her camp. This all turns out to be a rouse since her hubby is now a walker and, since she can’t be without him, she has been feeding animals and other survivors to him so he won’t wither away. This charade ends with Rick having to watch her kill herself which is an extremely powerful scene as she takes her last breaths and they talk. He is left after her last words with the distinct impression that after their talk she had gone too far and couldn’t come back, but the hope that after all he’s done he can return one day to the man he used to be.
Back at the prison, Carol is leading story time/weapons training with a youth group (gasp?!) apparently without the knowledge or permission of the newly formed council, which she is on. This comes as a complete shock to Carl who Carol didn’t expect to see there, which leads to her pleading for him not to tell Rick. After Carl’s exit, another older boy asks to be excused because he is feeling under the weather. This turns out not to be an excuse as we find out him in the next scene coughing and sputtering in the showers before he drops dead and rises again right before the credits roll.
This episode firmly places its foot in the drama category and feels no need to straddle the fence between that and action. Ending the show with all this emotional upheaval, friends lost, secrets revealed, and the enemy within the walls, it is the perfect set up to prepare you for the hell you know is about to be unleashed. I applaud both the direction and the tactful deconstruction of the serenity they’d obviously built between the season finale and this premier. It’s masterful work and I would recommend this episode to anyone who wants to get a taste of exactly how involved and careful crafted this world can be. I look forward to seeing you all again for episode 2: Infected. But until then, I truly hope all your films bring fright.Have You Read...?