Television Series DVD
The Walking Dead: The Complete Fourth Season
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Iím excited! Iím finally catching up! Season 5 has just ended and I have finally finished watching Season 4! (Tread lightly, folks, there are SPOILERS ahead.)
The fourth season of The Walking Dead is a bit different from the previous three. This one is basically performed in three acts. The first act finds Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and the rest of the team living a peaceful life at the prison a few months after The Governor incident. The team has taken on new members who help protect the prison, gather supplies, cook and grow food. Rick and his son Carl (Chandler Riggs) have taken up farming, helping to add to the food supply. Things are running well. They havenít lost anyone in five monthsÖand then a supply trip goes wrong and a virus makes its way around the prison, taking out key members of the team. Herschel (Scott Wilson) takes on the task of assisting the ill while others in the team go out in search of medicine, leaving Rick and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) to work on the prison defenses alone.
Now for the second act. Just when the group at the prison thinks they have finally gotten past this virus, The Governor (David Morrissey) makes his return, demanding Rick and his group abandon the prison so The Governor and his new group can move in. In an uncharacteristic move, Rick tries to negotiate, offering a portion of the prison to The Governor, only to be turned down in a hail of gunfire and explosive devices.
Finish up things with the third act. With the prison destroyed, the group is now separated from one another. Rick, battered and broken, is with Carl. Baby Judith is believed to be dead and Carl is extremely mad at his father, believing that all of the trouble the group has gotten into has hinged on Rick's actions or inactions. Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman) and the kids, Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino) and Mika (Kyla Kennedy), along with Judith, meet up with Carol (Melissa McBride) and try some down time in a deserted town. Carol is hiding a secret from Tyreese, while Lizzie is harboring a secret of her own that could cost them their lives. Meanwhile, Daryl (Norman Redus) and Beth (Emily Kinney) bond on their journey, only to be separated by a swarm of Walkers just when they are starting to get comfortable. Maggie, Bob (Lawrence Gilliard, Jr.) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) are together, but Maggie is obsessed with finding Glenn (Steven Yeun), especially after the prison bus is found with no survivors on board. Glenn, having gone back to the prison for Maggie, finds himself alone with a survivor (Alanna Masterson) of The Governor's raiding party. They team up to search for Maggie. And all the while, Michonne (Danai Gurira), believing all to be dead, wanders off on her own, returning to her old ways until a Walker resembling her brings the past rushing back, propelling her into a better present.
It all culminates in Terminus, a promised safe haven that all of the survivors have heard of by now via signs and radio broadcast. Terminus appears to be a safe haven from the outside, but can it really be what those inside purport it to be? Or is it another Woodbury in disguise? Or worse?
There's a lot going on in this season of The Walking Dead. Herschel, always a prominent member of the group and the voice of reason steps up in a very different way, sacrificing himself in an effort to save those suffering from the mysterious virus spreading throughout the prison. He gains even more respect from the group than ever before, but we all know what happens to voices of reason on this show, right? Meanwhile, Carol evolves even more, becoming less the victim and more of the protector in the group, even going so far as teaching the children how to fight and taking matters in her own hands when she feels they may adversely effect the group. Her decisions won't always make her popular, and she will come to hate herself for some of them, but they usually turn out to be the right road in the end.
The Governor's return is a terrific storyline. I loved seeing what happened to The Governor after Woodbury. On his own and coming across a family at his lowest moment, The Governor becomes invested in this family, vowing to protect them. At this point, we see something in the man - not a vicious dictator willing to destroy anyone who threatens what he has, but as a compassionate man who is capable of real love and caring. It's when he runs into a friend (Jose Pablo Cantillo) from his Woodbury past and joins his camp that The Governor starts slipping back into his old ways. As we witness the eminent downfall of The Governor, we see growth in Rick, who actually offers The Governor the opportunity to co-exist within the prison, all past forgotten in an effort to work together to survive. The Governor's final step over the line affects everyone involved, crushing some, building resolve in others and ultimately signing his death warrant.
In the aftermath of the destruction of the prison, we learn a great deal about Michonne's past through flashbacks. We see her grow as a person, realizing that her past losses shouldn't stop her from feeling for others in the present. We learn about Bob's fight with alcoholism and his resolve to work through his issues without drinking. We learn about Daryl's past and realize how amazing it is that Daryl has become such an honorable, respectable man after growing up in such painful conditions. His budding friendship with Beth allows us once again to see a softer side of Daryl, one that everyone knew was hiding beneath that tough exterior all along.
My favorite episode in this season is The Grove, not only because it confirmed something about Lizzie that I already believed, but because of the intense emotional drama the episode contains. There are plenty of revelations in this episode - why Carol treats the kids the way she does, why Tyreese is afraid to be around other people right now, what Lizzie has been up to even since her days at the prison and more. This was a great episode with a powerful ending sequence.
The Walking Dead: The Complete Fourth Season DVD included tons of extras, including deleted scenes, extended episodes and tons of featurettes. Inside The Walking Dead is a series of featurettes discussing each episode individually, including characters, stories and themes. The Making of The Walking Dead is another set of featurettes, this time taking us behind the scenes of each episode and the various special effects, wardrobe, makeup, Walker effects, etc. Drawing Inspiration discusses the correlation between what happens in the comic book and in the series, including similarities and differences in various plots. Hershel is one of those featurettes you can't help but feel sad watching. I loved this character and I thought it a great way to say goodbye. The Governor Is Back is a featurette exploring the whole Governor storyline. Society, Science & Survival draws our attention to online courses that teach math, science and sociology through the use of The Walking Dead. The Walking Dead as a teaching tool - who would have thought? Inside KNB EFX takes us into the studio responsible for all of the special effects on the show. Finally, we come to A Journey Back to Brutality, a featurette that revolves around Rick and his transformation throughout the series. These extras are amazing and not to be missed.
The Walking Dead: Season Four is a season that I would find hard to top, but somehow these folks always find a way. I've heard amazing talk about the fifth season and can't wait to get my hands on a DVD copy to call my own!