The Walking Dead Season 4, Episode 4 Review

Richard L. Haas III

With a new season renewed after just three episodes this season, AMC is apparently very confident in the rest of this season as well as the writers’ abilities to continue forward. This week we get more of an understanding that this is a concrete character study in the likeness of Lost and Breaking Bad. But the thing about this episode is that, while it was enjoyable to watch, it could be perceived as a bit boring— particularly when you take into account George A. Romero’s recent comments about the series, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

As far as the episode, Carol states in the cold opening that “We all change,” and she couldn’t be more right. The statement might have been a bit too forward, or in your face in light of the themes for this season (especially with the final song, “Everything Changes”), but it still did the job it needed to. One can’t help but to take notice this in all of the characters, not just Carol while she is justifying her murder while in the car with Rick (although that in and of itself is actually a profound moment for her character, where she is outside alone with Rick instead of one of the self-proclaimed “hunters”), but character development is also notable with Michonne’s character. It hasn’t really been mentioned all too much, but she is less reserved now that she is in an environment with people she knows and trusts. She even smiled while talking with Daryl, which actually caught me off guard.

Tyreese, on the other hand, has had more close calls than James Bond on a bad day. But there may be a point to it. In a short dialogue sequence between him and Michonne, the idea that Tyreese could be battling the inner thought of suicide after Karen’s death was presented and to tell you the truth, it makes sense. In the previous episode he found himself surrounded by walkers and managed to escape because at that moment he knew he didn’t want to die; the same thing happened in this episode when he didn’t let go of the walker hiding in the bushes.

I think it’s safe to assume the couple (who interestingly enough calls walkers “skin eaters”; I always find it interesting to hear what other people call them admits an apocalypse) Rick and Carol found in the neighborhood house is very dependent on others— they barely could keep walkers away, much less kill one with a single bullet, couldn’t comprehend knives as weapons, and the guy thought his shoulder was just sore even though it was dislocated. The mere fact that they were still alive was a miracle. It was obvious that both Carol and Rick were aware of this and thought about dealing with it in separate fashions. Rick was thinking about having them stay put so they could pick them up when they head back to the prison; to the contrary, I believe Carol wanted to test their usefulness by having them scope the other side of the perimeter and by them not returning means that they must have gotten themselves killed— exactly what Carol thought, again, making the decision for other people.

The Walking Dead Season 4 Photo 6

Not too much happened this episode aside from asserting the themes of the season. Carol considered her life with her husband, “I didn’t think I was strong enough,” which perfectly explains her transformation. But some change is not too good. And with that Carol potentially leaves the group forever because of who she has now become. Juxtaposed to this is a contrast between change and saying the same when Daryl learns that Bob is hoarding alcohol and acting as an alcoholic would do. But this is the issue holistically.

This episode didn’t feel right since I read master of all things zombies, George A. Romero’s comments about The Walking Dead: “Basically it’s just a soap opera with a zombie occasionally.” And at first I was ready to write an angry letter to Romero stating how much I love his moves but how wrong he is, but honestly after this episode I may send him a letter that says, “Oh my God, you’re right.” The episode felt so much like a soap opera it was unbelievable. As much as I like how deep they are going with the characters, I worry that we are being subjected to Undead Days of Our Lives or As the Walkers Turn. As the season progress, we’ll just have to observe the progression of the show. AMC even made a statement that they never plan to cancel The Walking Dead, which essentially means that it will become a weekly soap opera. I’m not sure of my opinion on this, but I’m curious as to what you guys think. Has The Walking Dead become a soap opera? Or is it a riveting horror drama?


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      1. Mike Gomez November 4, 2013 at 3:47 am

        George Romero is a pioneer and a legend of the zombie genre, but he’s old news. His remark was totally ignorant and anyone who feels the same is ignorant as well.

        • Dave Brown
          Dave Brown November 4, 2013 at 4:00 am

          Ignorant? Um, how? He’s right. This show is a soap opera with zombies. Romero’s movies are about SOMETHING beyond that. These are facts. Not ignorance. Now, and I know this crazy, you can actually like BOTH. Insanity! Yes, I love Romero and his satire, dark humor, and cynical look at the world through zombies, but ALSO like straight horror drama with no more depth beyond fictional characters getting along or not like The Walking Dead. See, it’s not a competition. Besides, the man who invented, more or less, what this show is capitalizing on and making tons of money off of, and making many careers out of it’s current success, can say whatever the fuck he wants.

        • agent lead November 5, 2013 at 12:36 am

          @davebrown…..carrying a 90 minute movie is not the same as developing characters that need to evolve and grow thru years of storylines. Sometimes episodes like this are needed to solidify points of reference.

      2. Reynikki Perez Ortega November 4, 2013 at 3:50 am

        Who cares what he says I love the show and will continue to watch it btw he is just jealous of Robert Kirkman bz he hasn’t done a movie in a while grow up mr. Romero and stop acting like a baby….

      3. David Pochay November 4, 2013 at 4:44 am

        I would love to see Romero’s version of the walking dead or Sam Rami’s

      4. Beyond the Pale November 4, 2013 at 6:38 am

        Addressing the comment about Romero: “The Walking Dead” IS commenting on social issues, just as Romero did with his films. Today we live in a world of scary unknowns and they are just as real as the zombies are in world of TWD. In our real lives fears of the unknown abound; everything from conspiracy theories (some that might even be true) to faceless unknown government agents spying on us to unknown additives in our food to unknown “terrorists” who kill and unknown “quiet guys” who appear from nowhere and start shooting everyone in sight. Add to that the feeling that the world is falling apart – global poverty is increasing, climate change is occurring, the USA is going broke and thinks that attacking the poorest members of society will fix this, the economic crisis in the EU, the earthquake that hit Japan (& the tsunami, & the continuing nuclear mess), war in the Mideast, pollution in China, etc., etc. and things get scary.

        It’s 2013, and fear of “The Unknowns” rules our lives. Those “Unknowns” can be portrayed onscreen as zombies – unknown kinda-people out to harm us not out of malice, but from instinct. “Malice” is something we can understand and attempt to control. But “natural, instinctual” death and destruction? We can’t understand nor control that any more than we can understand or control terrorism, our government, or the complexities of global poverty and its effects. (Sorry about our government – we’re trying to get that under control…failing at it yes, but still trying…)

        The other thing that strikes me about TWD is how everything always turns out as wrong as it could, regardless of intentions. Oh how like real life that is! TWD is today’s hopelessness displayed as art. There are no happy endings in TWD, and even trying to make the present as good as it can be is impossible because the present is awful! If you tried to run a series like this on TV in the 1980’s it would never make it. In the 1980’s things had happy endings, and the few that didn’t (the movies “The Day After” and “Threads” come to mind) made headlines weeks before they were even shown because it could “scare the children”, and high school students were forced into “discussion classes” to help us “cope with” what we had seen. But today, the top rated TV series is really a study in existentialism and utter hoplessness, and everyone (including me) loves it. After all, we may not be facing zombies but we CAN all relate to at least one character in the show, if not many of the characters as we watch them struggle to survive and find meaning in their lives amid the chaos.

        But that’s just my take on it. And they better not kill off Daryl.

      5. figures4eva November 4, 2013 at 1:49 pm

        I believe it may because it seems as if there is no objective anymore or gaol for the characters or the audience give us something we hope they achieve..like a pace to get to a cure to find..give us more how this happened…now they are just truly sitting around with overhyped drama..is it really that bad for a man too want a drink in a zombie apocalypse…I wouldn’t bother him unless he was walking around like a drunk..putting people in jeopardy…they should have showed that first

      6. Mike Gomez November 4, 2013 at 2:21 pm

        Dave Brown, it is ignorant to call it a soap opera. That basically means every single drama on television is a soap opera. That’s like saying Breaking Bad was a soap opera with some occasional drug dealing going on. Or that Homeland is a soap opera with some occasional spy shit going on. Dramas, good dramas, are always, have always and always will be about characters. Walking Dead is not about the zombies. It is about the people living in this new world and the way they choose to survive in it. I never said you can’t like both takes on the genre and if you bothered to actually read what I wrote, you’d see that I did give George his due credit.

      7. Oliver Olson November 4, 2013 at 2:54 pm

        I agree with Mike Gomez. To be quite frank, this is a stupid argument in the first place. Does TWD being “basically a soap opera with zombies” mean that people aren’t supposed to like it? The whole argument is a vague, clouded attempt to pick a fight, and it’s nothing but irritating to true fans of the show who want to get back to talking about the show itself. Not just pointless quips about how it might somehow have too much drama or something.

      8. Steve November 4, 2013 at 4:23 pm

        Romero hasn’t made a good movie since the early 80’s. He’s a pioneer of the zombie movie, but he can barely even get financed now because his movies are so terrible. Survival of the Dead seemed like a film student movie to me. I’m enjoying the character studies and the show still has loads of zombies. It can’t just be a show of running around shooting zombies. Uwe Boll can handle that.

      9. Dirk Penton November 4, 2013 at 5:33 pm

        It’s impossible to have 16 Episodes per season all ACTION PACKED/ZOMBIE KILLINGS like some people would like, for a Tv Series to be successful there needs to be that so called “soap opera” to build up the story. If not its impossible for them to go 4 + seasons. So its pretty stupid to call it a “soap opera” just because some of the episodes are about building characters.

      10. Em Ann November 4, 2013 at 7:04 pm

        I would not have agreed with Romero’s comment during seasons one or two. They were truly great TV.

        Season three was good, but not on a par with the earliest episodes.

        But during the brief time since season 4 began, I couldn’t agree more.

        This is not The Walking Dead I loved. This is something else.

        We have characters added expressely to be killed off. So transparent. But more than that, we see them EXPLAINING to us who they are. This was never the case in previous seasons.

        It feels manipulative and lazy. As Vince Gilligan said, in good storytelling the characters inform your decisions on where the story goes-but in bad storytelling you ‘tap dance’ characters into the situations you have in mind for them.

        And it all feels repetitive now. I hope it improves, but I doubt that since the powers that be seem to see no difference in quality-not that they care about that. All they care about is making money.

        I wish they had not gotten rid of the original creator and showrunner. Probably he was difficult to work with because he DID care about quality and did not compromise so easily.

      11. kreaturen November 4, 2013 at 7:19 pm

        Sort of unavoidable that it gets “soapy” after a while, it’s not a movie… It would be odd if after 4 seasons there would have been no interpersonal drama/dilemmas/conflict of interest etc. between the main characters. Or contemplative episodes where it kind of focused on the daily coping with the situation, rather than a massive onslaught of continuous raw action all the time. I really don’t get the criticism. What is it about? Is zombies popping out of every corner, in every scene, eating brains, the only enjoyable form of zombie apocalypse for these people?

        I do think they have introduced an awful lot of weak and uninteresting characters this season though. Makes for easy killings, I suppose… But you don’t feel it. Not like Lori, Sophia, can’t remember them all at the moment…

        I guess new characters need time warming up too though. Didn’t think much of Michonne at first either. Thought she was kind of too much Samurai Bitch, but now I think she is awesome

      12. Paul November 7, 2013 at 6:06 pm

        George Romero, as much as I love the guy, has got balls making a comment like that. is last 2 zombie movies were absolute dreck, showing just how far he’s fallen. He could never pull off The Walking Dead, even at its worst episode. With an ongoing series, of COURSE its going to resemble a soap opera! Just running away from zombies each week would be boring and pointless. But the new writers of this season better tighten the ship – now there are child actors in it who can’t act — always reminding you that you’re just watching a tv show. Right now, it seems the show’s in a bit of a drift, like it can’t remember what it wants to be. I think season 3 was TWD’s peak. BUT… it’s still the most exciting thing on TV.

      13. Tia January 2, 2014 at 5:44 am

        This show focuses on the people. not the zombies.the zombies are like a side dish to a meal