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I have a love / hate relationship with The Walking Dead: I love when a new season rolls around, but I hate it when that final episode ends and I have to wait another year to see where the story goes. This is compounded by the fact that this is (as of this writing) the only show that I am keeping up with, so I don't have anything else to hold me over. It also doesn't help when the season ends the way this one did; I wouldn't really call it a cliffhanger in the traditional sense of the word, but you'll definitely want to know what's coming next. So yes, while I love the show itself, I really hate the gaps between seasons.
Review by Chad
Added: May 13, 2014
As is always the case, this review is going to be full of spoilers for the previous seasons, and I'm also going to throw in the general storylines for this season. I'll avoid any major spoilers for this season, but if you want to go in completely blind, you might want to skip the synopsis.
This season is split into two parts, and truth be told, they almost seem like two different seasons. The first part picks up a few months after season three ended, with the survivors once again settling in at the prison after the war with The Governor. The walkers are still banging on the fences, but it's a fairly quiet life for all of the survivors - hell, Rick has even taken up farming, with his own little section of crops and livestock. Yep, things are peaceful and almost downright boring, until a young boy gets sick and dies in the middle of the night... and then reanimates and bites a sleeping person, who awakens in an entirely different way.
This attack will be the least of their problems though, as the virus that prompted that attack is spreading through the prison. The virus causing it is not fatal in and of itself, but one of the symptoms of it is massive internal bleeding, which doesn't usually go over very well with the human body. You might have guessed this next part already, but a couple of the main characters catch the illness and are quarantined from the rest of the group along with a bunch of extras. This leads to some of the other main characters setting out to find antibiotics to help cure the sick, and did I mention that The Governor is still out there, with a new army at his disposal and an intense desire to take over the prison?
This takes us halfway through the season, and after the mid-season finale... well, our heroes aren't in the prison anymore, that's all I can really say. They are all split up and out on the road, and some unlikely bonds start to take place. Rick, Carl, and Michonne are together in one group, Daryl teams up with Beth in another (and later, a new gang), and Maggie is with Sasha and Stookey in still another. Tyreese, Carol, and two young girls make up another group, and finally, Glenn meets up with newcomers Tara, Abraham, Eugene, and Rosita while trying to reunite with Maggie. The one common connection between all of the groups? Terminus. There are signs popping up directing survivors to a location known only as Terminus, where "those who arrive, survive." What is this place, and is it even still standing? It's worth a shot, and that's where everybody heads to. Some will make it, some won't. Some groups will be reunited, and others won't. Then, just when things really start to get interesting... well, you're going to have to stick around for season five.
I've heard the same complaint about this season as I've heard about all of the previous ones: it's too slow, it's boring, there's too much talking, yatta yatta yatta. You should know how the show works by now, so if plot advancement and character development were previously off-putting to you, you're going to feel the same way this time around. It's not wall-to-wall zombie action from start to finish, though there is plenty of that to be had throughout the season. However, if you're already aware of how the storylines play out in this series and are fine with that, this season has a lot to offer.
One thing that I enjoyed about this season took place in the latter half, when we discover some of the back-stories of the main characters. What did Michonne do before the outbreak? Where did Daryl come from? What's Stookey's story? While admittedly not incredibly important to the overall storyline, this character development went a long way in my book. I also thought that splitting the groups up the way they did was a nice way of giving individual characters more time to shine. It's hard to focus on some of the lesser characters when they're sharing the screen with everyone else, but with the smaller groups each getting individual attention throughout the episodes, these people start to grow on you.
Of course, it wouldn't be The Walking Dead without some old characters dying and new ones popping up. There are some shocking deaths which I will leave to you to discover, but some of the new characters are quite interesting. My personal favorites were Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino) and Mika (Kyla Kenedy), the two little girls that Carol takes under her wing. There's something incredibly off about these sisters, and I highly enjoyed watching this piece of the story advance. We also get Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), Eugene (Josh McDermitt), and Rosita (Christian Serratos), who fans of the comics will instantly recognize. Eugene claims to be a scientist who can save the world, Abraham is the military muscle that is helping to get him to Washington, and Rosita is the extra firepower that will aid the group as needed... and their goals don't always line up with the goals of the main group. There's also Tara (Alanna Masterson), a young lady who gets mixed up with some bad people before joining up with the heroes. Each of these characters brings something to the table, and most of them will play an important part in the season(s) to come.
Now, I almost feel a little guilty about this next paragraph after my earlier comments, but I have to admit that parts of this season did tend to drag a bit. There are bits and pieces sprinkled throughout where you just want the characters to get moving and do something, and it's not that the storyline itself is boring or that I'm wanting some mindless action, it's just that things seemed a little padded. This was mostly during the first half of the season, where we are repeatedly reminded that there is a disease going around and that people are sick. We get it. They're gravely ill and in need of treatment, now let's see somebody do something about it. This issue isn't incredibly prevalent throughout the season, but it's definitely there from time to time.
That minor quibble aside, I have to say that I'm still in love with the show and highly anticipating the next season. I'm aware that the main plot of the next season (as shown in this season's finale) comes from the comics, but I have yet to read that far ahead... and I have no plans to do so now. I prefer to be surprised, as even though some of the details were changed for the show, it was a little disappointing knowing basically where the prison storyline was going. It's not a perfect season, but it definitely ranks high up there in my book. 8/10.
- added November 18, 2014 at 2:45am
Up until the final episode, I was fully intent on
giving this three stars without reservation and
calling it the weakest season yet, but damn did it
end on a fucking high note. My opinion is kind of
opposite of yours: I was captivated by the flu
angle and found it had some truly suspenseful
moments, while the separation half didn't really
hold my attention. Like you said, it was nice
seeing some backstory and some of the secondary
characters get some screen time, but as a whole,
it seemed like the season's plot was just
floundering, killing time until that final episode
set the stage for season five. The Beth/Darryl arc
was especially taxing; felt like some crap off of