Oh The Walking Dead, how we've missed you. The zombie drama returned for its fourth season on Sunday night and it certainly didn't disappoint. "30 Days Without an Accident" saw the action kick off 6 months after the Governor's failed attempt to take the prison and the gunning down of his own people in a show of bastardry of the highest order. Since that senseless massacre the prison has been turned into somewhat of a stable community, where the battle between life and death has seemingly hit a manageable equilibrium. Rick has morphed into Old MacDonald, tending to the crops and livestock and seemingly no longer in charge, while Daryl is the resident rock star, winning adulation from all the newcomers in the prison for catching a deer and having the coolest haircut in the apocalypse.
But that's enough Walking Dead small talk. It's time to get down to business.
This article is the first of a regular Monday feature where I will look at some of the more subtler nods, references and plot lines of The Walking Dead and what this might mean for the show moving forward.
Welcome to Behind the Screams: Things you might have missed on The Walking Dead.
If it wasn't bad enough that walkers are partial to a bit of human flesh, they are also incredibly loud, filling the Georgian air with their gutteral groans. Rick's method of blocking out the undead chatter is to listen to some music on his MP3 player (I hope he's got a large collection of songs on there because updating his playlist is going to be a bitch). The tune of choice for Rick while he labored in the farm was Precious Memories, a gospel hymn that's been covered by artists as diverse as Bob Dylan and Aretha Franklin.
Here are the lyrics.
As I travel on life's pathway I know not what the years may hold. And as I ponder hope grows fonder. Precious memories flood my soul.
Precious memories how they linger. How they ever flood my soul? In the stillness of the midnight. Precious sacred scenes unfold.
Does the song refer to Rick and Carl's journey of survival and their uncertainty about what the future hold? Is the precious memory that lingers one of Lori and the family that Rick has recently lost? His soul is still troubled by what has happened and what he's had to do. Precious memories are the only thing that he has left of the old world. What happens when they begin fade?
It's become clear that since the events of last season Rick has given up his position as leader. A council has been created to make decisions for the group and it seems that Rick has retired from leadership and has instead dedicated himself to farming. If this sounds like a familiar story, that's because it is.
Caution: What follows next is a small history lesson. Please concentrate.
Cincinnatus was a famous Roman aristocrat and statesman who became a symbol of civic virtue due to his outstanding leadership and honor. Given the role of dictator when Rome was under attack, Cincinnatus gathered an army, marched on the enemy soldiers and won a decisive victory. As soon as the battle was over he resigned his position as dictator and went back to work on his farm. He came out of retirement one more time when Spurius Maelius conspired to become king. Cincinnatus crushed the attempted coup and retired once more.
The parallels between the two are hard to ignore.
For Cincinnatus read Rick Grimes. For the defeated army read the Governor and his Woodbury forces. And, like the Roman leader, once they were defeated Rick gave up the leadership and went back to working the land. If this theory holds water, the question that needs to be asked is, "Who will lead the coup and try to seize power at the prison?"
It's clear from the opening episode that Michonne is going to have much more of role to play this season. On returning from a scavenge with a bunch of comics for Carl, Michonne admits to Daryl that she "didn't find him," which I took to mean the Governor. Pointing to a place called Macon on the map, she suggests they try looking there. Now this was the point where my nerdy alter ego (I like to call him Alvin) lost his s#%t. You see Macon is a town that played a really big role on The Walking Dead Video Game. I won't say too much about it because I don't want to spoil it for those of you that haven't played it, but if it transpires that the Governor is hiding out in the town - say at the Everett Pharmacy Drugstore for example - it would be a crossover of epic proportions.
Points for discussion
Daryl and Carol continue to tease. Will they ever get it on?
Beth was more interesting in this episode than in the entire series combined.
Hershel has got a prosthetic leg. I'm sure he'll be breakdancing in no time.
Never trust an Irish waif that you stumble across in a forest. It won't end well.
I want to here from you now. Do you have any thoughts on the points raised above? Is there anything that I missed? Sound off in the comments below.