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'The Walking Dead' — '30 Days Without An Accident': It's Raining Dead

By TK | TV Reviews | October 13, 2013 | Comments ()


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At last, we return to the world of The Walking Dead. After an uneven but mostly strong third season, Season Four finds us back at the prison, the ranks of allies having swelled to surprising numbers. The prison is more than a simple refuge now — it’s a community, replete with a council of representatives, farms, livestock, and children. It’s everything Woodbury was meant to be, before the psychosis of The Governor warped it into something dark and twisted.

It’s that sense of community, of safety, of home, that this first episode wants to convey, and it does so quite nicely. “30 Days Without An Accident” darts all over the place, giving quick yet in-depth little vignettes that help the viewer understand the changes that have taken place in the last few months since the Woodbury raid ended in carnage. Rick Grimes still wrestles with his demons, so far as to not even want to carry a firearm anymore. Yet he’s also achieved some level of calm, in part because he appears to have completely given over any semblance of leadership, instead choosing to focus on Carl and Judith and on the simpler tasks that present themselves. There’s a sense that Rick hasn’t quite come back yet, but there’s also something satisfying about this new incarnation. Without the trappings of leadership and its incumbent forced nobility, Rick is a much more interesting character, one who can teach his son the value of pragmatism, who can open himself up to new possibilities (like, interestingly, Michonne?).

Even more interesting is the gradual metamorphosis of Daryl Dixon. Daryl’s fierce sense of loyalty has never been in question, yet he’s always remained somewhat apart, at least mentally from the pack. Now we find him a true leader, with people looking up to him, respecting him, thanking him for his contributions. Daryl, more than anyone else, has found the home in this post-apocalyptic hell that he never had before. His relationship with Carol Peletier (“Pookie!”) still appears in a fledgling state, but there’s an easygoing charm to it that continues to be enjoyable to watch. This is in no small part due to the showrunners giving Melissa McBride room to breathe, to allow her character to take on a life of her own beyond simpering victim or lovestruck, um, victim. Carol is a real person now, who understands what needs to be done and is willing to take some pretty serious risks to do it. Her unexpected — and yet also perhaps quite crucial — defense and weapons classes show a new dimension to her. Carol is no longer simply a follower, she’s a mover and a woman of action, and McBride is doing a solid job with the character’s evolution.

There was so much more going on, and we haven’t even talked about the story yet. Tyrese and Karen (Melissa Ponzio), his newfound lady love, a brutally practical woman if there ever was one. Beth, finally becoming more than a porcelain doll, taking a darker, more interesting turn. Bob Stookey (Larry Gilliard, Jr.), a former army medic who may have more enthusiasm than common sense, and who also may be harboring his own demons. The continuing wonder that is the relationship between Glenn and Maggie, perhaps one of the best television couples out there, a mix of raw passion and roughly hewn practicality that makes every moment with them interesting.

But lest we forget, this is a dark and treacherous world, and the storyline of “30 Days Without An Accident” was one of the best one-shots that the show has had. Focusing on a few different, disparate stories, it did a terrific job of using each narrative thread to show us the new order of things while also creating a sense of heightened tension. Giving us a glimpse of the placidity and charm of this new, lively community allows the eventual gut punches to hit that much harder, and there was shock and horror aplenty in this episode. Rick’s journey through the woods was a tragic nightmare, even though every fiber of my being screamed “TRAP!” It served as a perfect way to illustrate the inner journey that Rick has gone on, showing us the dark roads traveled while still showing his unrelenting willingness to help — perhaps even to his detriment.

At the same time, the “run” was almost a miniature action movie, full of bullets and mayhem and horror. Yet it also hearkened back to the first episode of Season Three, where we get to see how the skills and tactics of the group have evolved (a nice touch that’s been a part of each premiere, seamlessly showing what they’ve learned). Even the best laid plans can fall apart, and in this case, due to a simple misstep by Stookey in his moment of weakness, hell breaks loose and the dead literally start to fall from the sky. It’s a hectic, heart-pounding orgy of chaos and set a fantastic tone for how the action might pan out going forward.

But most importantly, “30 Days Without An Accident” served as a reminder that no one, no matter where you are, no matter how skilled your leadership, how prepared your teammates, how cautious you are, how well-fortified your walls are — no one is ever safe. We are given two brutal examples — Beth’s short-lived boyfriend Zach (a shocking death if there ever was one, given that actor Kyle Gallner was expected to be a full-time cast member thanks to some hints from the writers — those bastards), goes first, dying in the midst of the bedlam at the shop. Far more alarming is the death of the sweet, friendly Patrick. Between him and poor Violet the pig, we now know that there’s a new kind of danger facing them, one far less overt, yet perhaps far more insidious. Oh, and now there’s a walker loose in the compound. So that should be fun.

It’s no secret that there have been some sweeping changes on the production side of The Walking Dead since midway through last season. New showrunner Scott Gimple showed great promise during his run in Season Three, and if this episode is any example, we’re hopefully in for a stronger, more consistent fourth season. The show is certainly quite beautiful this time around, full of striking shots and spectacular strides in costume design and special effects. The shot of the downed helicopter on the roof, the makeup and costume of the woman that Rick encounters, the dead falling through the roof and their bodies rupturing like some hideous, overripe fruit, and the new ingenuity displayed at the prison, are all intriguing and unique glimpses of what may come. But more importantly, the writing felt stronger, with characters — especially the women — feeling more real and honest. There’s a kind of gutsy toughness to everyone now, yet also a sense of softness, and it was balanced quite well.

We know nothing about what the future holds for this group. The story has now veered far away from the road that the comics took, and I feel like that’s a good thing. Gimple and company can now create their own stories with the world that Kirkman’s books helped build, and they are no longer constrained by the need for fidelity to the original. The characters are changing and evolving, their ranks are growing, and while we don’t know what, if any, new singular threat there may be, there’s an ominous, grim tone that’s been set and a dangerous road ahead. It’s only one episode, but “30 Days Without An Accident” was one of the better ones, and so we can all hope for more to come.


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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • lowercase_ryan

    Gimple has the best eps of last season and he picked right back up where he left off. this season is getting me really excited.

  • Aaaah, TK's back. I always wait until I have quiet time so I can enjoy your recaps.

    Yes, with the brain screaming "It's a trap!" Seemed a little beyond Rick at this point, that he would even think about following Luna's creepy cousin, but at least he reacted quickly when she pulled the knife. This was really the only scene I didn't like.

    Adios Zackmigo...no tears for you.

  • TheAggroCraig

    Why would Carol have to hide her "how to kill zombies and not hurt yourself" class from Rick? That seems like an important thing to learn.

  • ed newman

    I think maybe the writers are saying that Rick has overreacted to Carl's near turn into a psycho killer and that he is trying to let the kids be kids. Stupid, but Rick makes a lot of bonehead moves.

  • Frankc

    Dead Pig+Dead Kid= Swine Flu.

  • RilesSD

    Gotta say, zombies falling from the roof was pretty fucking cool.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    Coincidence that Daryl licked his fingers before shaking hands with Patrick and then Patrick getting deathly ill?

  • Naye

    Its probably one of those foreshadowing sorts of things. Darryl licks his fingers and Patrick still shakes the hell out of his hand (sorry but nothing short of the hand of God could lick its fingers then shake my hand). Possible that Patrick took less care of his hygiene than others, especially since he handles food? (Am I right? I saw him helping cook correct?) But I did notice that zombies eyes and was like "How weird for him to have fresh blood coming from his eyes". Which is what happened to Patrick when he died. Maybe it's not a zombie virus, but a regular old apocalypse virus. Which really sucks for such an enclosed space where virus' can spread like fire.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    I just remembered another show I watched this week with blood coming out of every cranial orifice... American Horror Story! Witches and zombies, oh my.

    Good point about the food handling. I thought it was weird that they've got a resident veterinarian in Hershel and he apparently didn't bother taking a look at Violet.

  • I'd say it's more likely that Daryl will get sick from Patrick sharing his pig-zombie cooties with him via handshake.

  • Naye

    Nooooeeess! Why did you even put that in the universe.

  • The handshake was so awkward and weird and meaningless that it just had to be a seed planted for later. As soon as the kid got sick at story time it made sense.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    Yeah, it made sense if Daryl's the plague carrier.

  • Yeah, that's probably a better read on that whole thing.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    You know that would never happen. Crowds would riot on the streets.

  • He wont die, I don't think, but he'll be the impetus that leads things from "we should find a cure" to "WE HAVE TO FIND A CURE".

  • Danar the Barbarian

    So it's some kind of new zombie strain / virus we're getting this season? They kept showing that zombie with the jacked-up, burst grape-looking eyes, and that's what Patrick's eyes looked like when he reanimated. Some kind of new super walker? And did Patrick contaminate that rainwater barrel when he took a shower? That made me dread next week's episode!

  • Naye

    What did Carol say to Carl when he interrupted the knifing lesson?

  • Rooks

    Don't tell your dad.

  • Modiano

    My only question to this is, "Why?" If Rick objected to teaching basic zombie defense to the kids I would shout at my TV. Prediction...I will be shouting at my TV on a Sunday very soon.

  • TenaciousJP

    How was Rick listening to an MP3 player when he was digging in the cold open? Assuming they got the electricity back on and working for the entire prison, it still seems strange that they would allow some of that precious power to go for charging iPods or Walkmans or whatever doodads kids use nowadays.

    Maybe I'm reading far too much into it. Woodbury definitely had electricity that wasn't from portable generators, so maybe there's a working power station nearby.

  • Justin Kuhn

    ...where are they getting their gasoline from?

  • I asked the same thing and a friend said "car charger" - maybe they're amping up their iPods while they're out on runs? Might as well, right?

  • Pajiba_Pragmatist

    To live up to my name, I'll point out that you can get solar chargers for your iPhone/iPod at BestBuy. There's a pretty cool one for sale right now through a Gizmodo coupon.

  • simplysarah

    maybe it was an old school Walkman and they found batteries. I was wondering about that myself.

  • ed newman

    Overall I was pleased. However the "run" came close to ruining it for me. Here is why:

    The walkers were all over the roof, stumbling around randomly. The new guy makes noise and the walkers all head toward it, eventually finding weak spots in the roof. In their random walking patterns, the walkers never found any of what turned out to be at least a dozen weak spots?

    Maybe I am nitpicking but it bothered me a lot.

  • Naye

    The walking patterns were random before that. When Bob made (a LOT) of noise, they all began to converge on one spot so that spot weakened and fell. After that the entire support structure of the roof began to fail.

  • ed newman

    The way it looked to me was that the cave in started BEFORE they converged on a spot. Plus it didn't cave in just one weak spot. The walkers started falling through individually all over the place like the roof was swiss cheese.

  • Modiano

    How haphazardly constructed was that store? Don't get me wrong, it was a cool idea, but it felt like the writers were like, "Walkers raining down from the sky!" and then came up with this as a solution. How would a couple years of rain and weight cause a cave in like that? I know nothing about construction, but it seems odd.

  • Justin Kuhn

    I figured the whole roof was weakened pretty well by the helicopter crash. Likely some fuel burning as well, though that might be too much for the roof to be any semblance of intact still. I was wondering how all those walkers got up on the roof though. And why is there this inexhaustible supply of walkers at the fence?

  • Modiano

    I trust the walkers at the fence will be explained because it seems like a deliberate plot point. The walkers on the roof? Nope. I guess I could surmise they were randos who took refuge up there and were taken out by the copter crash walkers or something. There was still something off about that roof despite the possible gas leak and copter. Flimsy!

  • Jenn TheYellowDart

    You know how people talk about a show having an atmosphere of tension and dread? I say that about Hannibal, and this is the first time I've said that about TWD. Watching Rick's segment had me leaning forward. And I like the practicality of his 3 questions.

  • Lauren_Lauren

    The way they were fixing previous weak points kept blowing my mind. Multiple black characters? And they all have dialogue?! The new guy has an intriguing backstory?!! A WOMAN GIVING COMMANDS?!!!! It's like a whole new show. I'm stoked.

  • Cassidy!!!! NOOOO!

  • kimk

    The actor really seems to specialize in 3 types of characters:
    -Guys who get killed
    -Psychos
    -Pyschos who get killed

  • There was actually this one movie, Cherry, that I came across on Netflix instant about a year ago. He was neither a psycho or a guy who got killed. I was as surprised as anyone.

  • Lauren_Lauren

    HIS NAME IS . . . oh, wait.

  • I just hope it doesn't turn into the 3rd straight bottleneck season. A few more episodes in the prison and I'm going to get claustrophobic, in a narrative sense.

  • Fredo

    At the start it felt more like "The Banging Dead", what with everyone apparently having paired off. Even Beth had a boyfriend for a hot minute.

    I liked how the two stories act to bring us up to speed once again. Yes, the world is still full of walkers and that means danger -- even with the greater numbers they deploy in their "run". And yes, if you are alone in this world, you won't be able to make it. If you want to survive, you need numbers. (Which will make Michonne's hunt for The Governor all the more interesting, as the roles there are likely reversed).

    And now we get to see how their little world gets torn to shred. Because this is "The Walking Dead" and in this world, nothing lasts forever.

  • Brooke the Replicant

    You know, I didn't even put two and two together with Patrick and the dead pig. IT ALL MAKES SENSE NOW.

  • Modiano

    Are we sure the dead pig is what caused Patrick's illness though? Maybe I missed something. It could also be the dead deer Dixon brought back or the water supply, right? Dead walkers end up in rivers/streams quite often.

  • peachykeen5014

    I vote water supply since the episode started and ended with shots of it.

  • The Other Julie

    I don't think that's where it started, but it definitely will spread that way now that Patrick spluttered all over it in his dying moments...

  • Modiano

    Right? They seemed to be emphasizing the ample H2O supply. My impression was that Violet the pig was a casualty, not the cause.

  • peachykeen5014

    Plus this gives them a major reason to need to branch out from the prison. At least, I hope they come up with an excuse better than, "THE GOVERNOR IS STILL OUT THERE!!" lol

  • Naye

    Man they kept showing that dead pig and I was like "clearly nobody is about to eat that". Where was the common sense patrol to toss that sucker. Who eats a pig that just drops dead?!

  • Brooke the Replicant

    Also isn't Herschel a veterinarian?

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