“The Walking Dead” — the only show on basic cable television where I can get my post-apocalyptic zombie fix.
For the past year and a half, I’ve been a girl obsessed. I binge-watched the first two seasons within the first week I had my Netflix account. My parents would frequently come home from work to find me standing on the couch, flailing my arms and screaming obscenities at the TV.
When season 3 started I devotedly live-tweeted each episode and had heated discussions with my friends the next day at school. And last February, I paid $45 to go to The Walking Dead Live in Kansas City — a live panel with Greg Nicotero, Lauren Cohan, Michael Rooker, and (*fangirls hopelessly*) Norman Reedus, Daryl Dixon himself.
For me, “The Walking Dead” is a pretty big deal.
When season 4 began last fall I was ecstatic. I finally had friends to watch and obsess over the show with, and I couldn’t have been happier.
But when compared to past seasons, season 4 is just “eh.”
Season 4 picked up a while after season 3 ended. The group has grown after refugees from Woodberry were taken in. They have their own system for growing food, gathering water, eliminating walkers who build up around the perimeter, and just surviving. Everything seems to be going swimmingly, until the zombie flu hits, the Governor attacks, and the group is forced to flee their prison sanctuary and becomes divided.
There are a lot of things wrong with season 4. The main thing I had a problem with throughout the first half of the season was that the anonymous characters taken in from Woodberry were the only ones to get picked off by the zombie flu and other disasters. When the first person succumbed to the zombie flu and attacked the group from within the prison, I was yawning. It was painfully obvious that the core characters — Glen, Maggie, Rick, Carol, etc. — would emerge unscathed and all the newbies would be killed. This is exactly what happened, and it continued to be the case for all of season 4 — by the finale, the only newbie that’s still alive and well is Bob. the The only long-standing cast member to perish this season was Hershel during the midseason finale.
Season 4 didn’t hesitate in returning the Governor. But, interestingly, the show dedicated a number of episodes to what happened to him after the fall of Woodberry. Gov. Phil goes through some “character development,” maybe trying to make the audience sympathize with him, before returning to his cold-blooded ways and manipulating a gang of people he meets on the road to attack the prison.
“The Walking Dead” stalled the inevitable — everything in the episodes focusing on the Governor and leading up to the prison raid simply did not need to be made. In fact, the entire first half of season 4 was more or less irrelevant. The midseason finale, where the prison is destroyed and Gov. Phil finally gets what’s coming to him, was the season 3 finale we were denied.
Despite its lags, especially throughout 4A, season 4 had its share of strengths and events that will be remembered as pinnacle moments of the show. The one that stands out the most: Lizzie murdering her sister, Mika.
From the moment she was introduced, Lizzie was one of the most intriguing characters of the season. She was sick, she wasn’t wired right, she regarded walkers as people, just “different,” and even went as far as calling them her “friends.”
The episode where Lizzie finally snapped and killed her sister so she would come back as a walker was without a doubt the strongest episode of the season. The last 20 minutes are brutal and end with Carol having to, for lack of a better term, “put down” Lizzie to insure the safety of baby Judith, to whom Lizzie was a huge threat.
As Carol said, “She can’t be around people.”
Season 4 focused largely on character development and explored the dynamics that exist between the adults and children. It shows the differences in perception from the adults, who are adjusting to the new post-apocalyptic world, and the children who are growing up in it and who have few, and perhaps fading, memories of the world before the walkers.
Starting in season 3, the show has shifted from humans-vs-zombies to humans-vs-humans. This was continued throughout season 4 — the main threats to the group being the Governor, the redneck group Daryl fleetingly joins, Lizzie’s psychosis, and Terminus.
The walkers are stupid, slow, and easy to get rid of with a simple stab or shot to the brain. Humans are a different story.
As is the tradition of “The Walking Dead,” the season finale broke records — 15.7 million viewers tuned in to last night’s episode. The season ended on the biggest cliffhanger of the series, with most of the gang trapped in a boxcar in Terminus, a trap which lures in people with the promise of sanctuary. (So, Terminus is a bad place. Who knew? “Those who arrive survive” totally didn’t sound too good to be true. I hope you’re picking up on my sarcasm here.)
Season 4 leaves a lot of unanswered questions. What is the agenda behind Terminus? Are the people there cannibals? What’s going to happen to Carol, Tyreese, and Judith who are still out on the road heading to Terminus? Will they too be imprisoned? Now that most of the Woodberry characters have long since perished, who will be killed off next? And for god’s sake, where is Beth?
Though this season was my least favorite of the 4, season 5 has been set up to be packed with action. Rick Grimes, it’s time to prove that Terminus messed with the wrong people.