‘The Walking Dead’ 4.01 Recap: “What Were the Questions?”

Before we dive into the Season 4 premiere of ‘The Walking Dead’, I would be remiss if I didn’t first thank Aaron Peck for his outstanding coverage of the last couple of seasons. Aaron’s busy schedule (and honestly, his dissatisfaction with Season 3) has prompted him to pass the torch. So, just as Scott Gimple takes over as show-runner for ‘The Walking Dead’, I’ve been handed the weekly duties of recapping what transpires. With that bit of business set aside, let’s take a look at the Season 4 opener.

Some time has passed since the big battle with the Governor (who doesn’t make an appearance this week), and the people from Woodbury seem to have settled into the prison nicely. We’ll learn a bit later in the episode that the prison now has a council to make decisions, including Daryl as one of the prominent leaders. They’re willing to welcome other outsiders into the camp if they’re deemed worthy.

It’s hard not to notice all the changes that have taken place at the prison. A farm has been set up that includes both a vegetable garden and a pigsty (though the oldest pig isn’t looking too healthy these days). Herschel has a new prosthetic leg (no doubt saving the effects department thousands of dollars per season). The guard towers that the Governor’s men blew to smithereens last season appear to have been rebuilt. Oh, and Rick seems to have found either a working computer or an electrical charger to keep his iPod running. (Those things don’t take AA batteries, you know.) Then again, this is the show where the gasoline supply seems to be unlimited, so I won’t fuss too much about the characters being able to listen to music.

Viewers also learn that many of the characters who were single last season have formed relationships – most likely so that someone can cry for them when they get killed off later in the season. Herschel’s daughter, Beth, is dating a guy named Zach. Tyrese seems to be warming up to Karen (the sole survivor of the Governor’s psychotic slaughter of his own people last season). Tyrese’s sister, Sasha, may or may not be attracted to newcomer Bob Stookey, who seems – at the very least – to have an alcohol addiction that will almost certainly come into play as the episodes progress. Finally, in case you were wondering, both Glenn and Maggie, and Daryl and Carol, are still couples.

With all the effort to show us how things have stabilized at the prison and to introduce the new characters, not much happens in terms of story advancement in this first episode. It’s Rick’s turn to go outside the prison and check the snares they’ve left to gather dead animals for food. While he’s out there, he runs into a frail woman named Clara, who first begs Rick to help her drag an animal back to her camp (Rick gives her a sandwich instead) and then asks if he’ll accept her and her husband (who’s back at her camp) into the prison. Rick claims that he’ll have to meet the man first and ask three questions – the answers to which will determine whether the prison can accept them or not. However, once they get back to Clara’s camp, she tries to kill Rick. It turns out that Clara is as crazy as they come, and all that’s left of her husband is just a severed zombie head that she continues to feed. She eventually stabs herself as Rick watches. Before she dies, she asks Rick what were the questions he was going to ask. They are as follows:

  • How many Walkers have you killed?
  • How many people have you killed?
  • Why?

While Rick is off dealing with insanity again (thankfully not his own this time), Daryl takes Michonne, Glenn, Zach and Bob to a local Big Lots… err, make that “Big Spot”… on a supply run. Unbeknownst to the group, a bunch of zombies and a crashed helicopter are up on the roof, the weight of which has made the building very unstable. Inside, Bob finds a shelf full of wine and, while checking out one of the bottles, accidently brings the entire shelf crashing to the floor. The loud noise makes the Walkers on the roof more active, and their movement causes them to crash down through the ceiling. Bob gets caught under the shelf, but the others manage to rescue him in time. Not so lucky is Zach, who gets bitten. Returning to the prison, it becomes Daryl’s duty to tell Beth about losing Zach. Beth is pretty emotionless when she hears the news. She tells Daryl that she doesn’t cry anymore.

This week’s premiere wraps up with Carl walking in on a class where Carol is showing the other children the proper way to use a knife to stab zombies. She asks Carl not to tell Rick what she’s teaching the kids. One of the older children in the class, Patrick (who wears Harry Potter glasses), says that he’s not feeling well and asks to be dismissed. Coughing and hacking his way to the showers, Patrick collapses and dies – turning into a Walker as the episode concludes.

Well, it doesn’t look like zombies will be the only crisis for our heroes this season. Patrick’s death (as well as the pig’s, which is shown deceased in the second half of the episode) seems to signify that there’s a deadly virus going around. Since we already know that the zombie plague is an airborne virus that has infected everyone (and when you die, you turn into a zombie – even if you’ve never been bitten by one), could it be that the same virus has now mutated to the point where it’s killing and people without them having to die naturally or get bitten first? If so, this group better find a scientific mind to join them pretty fast, or the cast could thin out pretty rapidly.

Without having any context as to what will follow, the first episode of Season 4 is slightly disappointing. It’s possible that we’ll look back later and see a lot of other stuff that’s been set-up for future episodes, but as a standalone, this one is a rather so-so way to start the new season.

What did everyone else think? Were you satisfied with the Season 4 premiere?


  1. This may have been a low-key episode, but I thought it was a pretty good premiere. Despite its predictability, I liked the storyline with Rick and the crazy lady. Although we’d seen Rick lose his shit before, this was the first time he actually recognized just how far he almost fell, so it’s a little bit of character building for him.

    I also think the virus storyline (assuming that’s what it is) has a lot of potential.

    I went into this premiere very skeptical, given how unsatified I was with where the show left things in the S3 finale, but I’m still on board now.

    It’s funny, before the episode started, Mrs. Z said, “These people have got to start growing a garden or something. They’ve got a big yard now, they ought to use that to feed themselves.” Then what’s the first thing we see? Rick tending the garden. Very perceptive, my wife is. 🙂

  2. Peter

    I also thought the end of Season 3 was too drawn out and silly, and I was very upset that the Governor survived. His story played out, they should have killed him off. That said, I was looking forward to the Season 4 premiere, and I think it was a very good episode.

    It is very interesting to see the group move past the trying to survive in the wilderness stage and begin to try to build a society with a government, farming, etc. What we see at the prison must be how Woodbury started – people trying to build something.

    As for excitement, I thought the zombies through the ceiling was a new way to have a zombie attack – it’s tough to constantly think of new ways to have these attacks. It’s clear there will be a whole debate between Glen and Maggie about whether it’s a good idea to have a baby in this world, which creates some interesting argument.

    It’s also clear that virus and disease will become a big deal this season. There was almost no development along those lines last year – very few issues involving how this virus works were discussed last year. And the second season, the only thing along those lines was that everyone is affected and will become a walker upon death. The first season had a lot of issues along these lines culminating in going to the CDC. I find them very interesting. Also, it seems whatever it is that infected the pig and Patrick (who looks like a combination of a young Woody Allen and a young Groucho Marx)is going to cause all sorts of chaos in the prison when people on the inside start turning into walkers. It also introduces a realistic element as far as disease. We don’t know if this is the walker virus now killing people or a regular old infectious disease killing people who then turn into walkers (I think the later because the walker virus has never infected animals before, and the pig didn’t become a walker – or trotter as the case may be), but it is a big deal either way. We have become complacent since the introduction of antibiotics, but infectious diseases have caused massive death through history. Such as bubonic plague, diptheria, the polio crisis of the 20th century, or the 1918 influenza pandemic where 50-100 million died – think about that for a minute.

    I am excited for the new season.

  3. Martin

    I´m glad that someone took over the recap. Thanks Shannon.

    I thought the Clara-storyline was pretty lame and pointless.
    The thing about the biters crashing through the roof reminded me at the dwell situation, a classic jump the shark moment in my book, but I´m hopeful that things will pick up and that the events (e.g. virus?) in this episode build up to something bigger.

  4. Lahrs

    I believe if the zombie virus mutated, as was suggested, and is now killing without being spread through a bite, it would make the virus too powerful for the story line. At that point, what hope does anyone have? There has to be some hope or the story basically ends.

    However, one of the basic tenets of the story is post apocalyptic survival, and having to deal with a normally treatable, though still potentially deadly virus such as the flu when modern medicine is no longer an option becomes a valid threat without consuming the story.

    One aspect of the zombies in the premier that made sense (and was well done), was their further state of decay. The scalp peeling off at Big Mart was a particularly ‘eww’ moment for me, but I have a weak stomach as it is. It is a more realistic portrayal of zombies over time, and makes sense in the long run, because at some point the zombies are no longer going to be the main threat. Though they did set up the zombie herds, zombies roaming in packs, or in their particular case, piling up on the fence in packs.

  5. Wayne

    This episode was a very decent start. Some nice/human writing moments (Detective Daryl) and some awesome zombie action (RAINING ZOMBIES!) Other then the painful/goofy Clara sidenote I quite enjoyed this ep. ..oh and: Fence Duty! Michonne on a horse!

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