With less than two weeks left for the premiere, TWD fans are biting their nails and wringing their hands in anticipation for another walker-infested 16 episodes of electrifying tension and character-driven drama. And they've got a really good reason to be extremely jealous of one man in particular: Russ Burlingame from the website comicbook.com, who had the privilege of viewing an advance screener of the premiere (AMC gave out screeners to members of the press of this season's episodes 1 - 30 Days Without an Accident - and 2 - Infected). Here are some of the highlights of his review (which you can of course read in full here):
First off, Russ notes the huge load of baggage TWD carries into its fourth season:
There's the baggage of being TV’s highest-rated series last year. There's the baggage of being the first "milestone" episode of a major show on AMC since the end of Breaking Bad last week. There's the baggage of dozens of new characters and a finale that, let's be honest, didn't thrill the audience to its core last year. And there’s a total lack of reasonable expectations on the part of the audience going in.
He goes on to point out the changes throuhout the seasons in style and themes, stemming from the changes in showrunners. Burlingame says of new showrunner :
Well, new showrunner Scott Gimple – responsible for some of the show's most popular episodes, including Pretty Much Dead Already, Clear and who reportedly rewrote and show-ran last year’s blood-soaked finale – carves out a new niche for himself almost immediately. The season four premiere sees a writer fairly transparently attempting to latch onto the feeling of season two–a little more laid back ("don't call it slow," he would almost certainly plead) and cerebral, with the "scary movie" stuff mostly provided by periodic bursts of activity as opposed to the sustained drama and tension that defined last year.
For those who worry that this means all-establishing-shots and boring dialogues, despair not, for there is action to spare:
And while the stakes aren't as high in this premiere as they've been recently – at least not for the first half or more – there's no shortage of action, no shortage of walkers and certainly no shortage of gore.
A hint for a crucial moment to look out for at the beginning of the episode:
There is one moment, in fact, that portends quite a bit of bad if it's to be taken at face value. That moment, something that nobody will think twice about until at minimum the last five minutes of the premiere, occurs early enough in the episode that it may be the second or third time through before fans really start to point at it and get hysterical.
All 100 or so characters living in that prison, ringed by zombies – have something major to lose. Even in the face of an imperfect premiere coming off of a deeply flawed finale, that’s a status quo that promises a lot of potential.
The Walking Dead Season 4 premieres on AMC on October 13th, at 9 PM EST.