'The Walking Dead' S4 Ep4 Recap: Oh, Carol (or: What about Bob?)
So this is how it's gonna be, huh? Season 4 of The Walking Dead is a character study, a chess match where the bishop can bite your head off. It's more Season 2's talky talkathon at Hershel's farm than, say, wilding out with the One Eyed Gov in Season 3.
However, if you're going to do a character study, you better make darn sure the characters are well-defined. Things are getting sloppy writing-wise, and as a result I'm getting bored, losing faith. (The Twittersphere seems to be with me.) I'm close to rooting for the "skin-eaters," the show's latest attempt to never say "zombie," an inside wink now bordering on the tedious.
IF -- and this is a big IF -- the writers and showrunner Scott Gimple are leading us somewhere explosive, IF there's a killer plan, then fine, fabu, fantastic, can't wait for the wallop. Because right now, NOT A LOT IS HAPPENING, save for the final 10 minutes of each show: a zombie attack (last night at a veterinary hospital) and a plot twist that promises future drama (last night a weaker Rick booted a stronger Carol out of the survivors club).
Since the show is so undead-set on establishing character, rather than moving things along, let's break down the peeps and see what's possibly, hopefully in store...
CAROL: If you think this former abused wife is gone for good, you're wrong. The Comeback Player of the Year is arguably the very model of new post-apocalyptic survivor, passionate up to a point -- lethal when it counts. As for her past, "that's somebody else's slideshow." Great, chilly line right there. She "murdered" two people who were on the verge of zombiehood, but Farmer Rick saw that as a crime. So after a rather pointless suburban foraging, he, perhaps because he was threatened, told Carol to take a hike, and she did, without a complaint. Carol seemed happy to leave (you can't only be a farmer these days, she says), but Linda Hamilton Reborn is no pushover. She'll come back to the prison to get her makeshift daughters. She might even try to kill Rick. Orrrrrr....WILL SHE ALIGN WITH THE GOVERNOR?!!
THE GOVERNOR: No idea where Psycho Cyclops is, but he got his first official shout-out of the season last night. He'll pop up sooner or later (hopefully sooner). How do we know? Actor David Morrissey did all the preseason press hype. Trust me: The Gov is lurking, and his return will be more than welcome. He's the ace in the hole for a so-so season.
BOB: Seems like a nice enough, competent former paramedic...until his thirst for hooch almost gets him, and everyone else, killed. His alcoholism is receiving major plot play, so sooner or later, the bottle is going to let him down.
DARYL: Daryl's father was an abusive alcoholic, so his reaction to Bob's dilemna was at first compassionate, then rageful, just like a confused kid. Shout-out to actor Norman Reedus who plays D. Dixon with such a contained animalistic energy; that pseudo head-butt tango with Bob -- who fought a dozen undead for a half-pint of booze -- was gripping television. By the way, if you think Daryl was cranky with Bob, wait until he finds out Rick gave his buddy Carol the boot.
CARL: Wasn't on last night's show. Presumably still looking for his hat.
MICHONNE: More flirting with Daryl, who talks our dred-headed samurai out of her "cold" vengeful chase of the One Eyed Gov. However, at ep's end, when she tells him she's going to stop searching, Daryl is the one who seems to be having second thoughts. Maybe Michonne and Daryl out on the road together -- gettin' cozy and huntin' bad guys -- is starting to appeal to him. After all, the Gov offed Daryl's bro. (Man, who misses Merle???!! I know I do.)
TYREESE & RICK: My chief gripes with The Walking Dead this season concern two of the show's main dudes. The character of Rick (still played with tough melancholy by Andrew Lincoln, who deserves better writing) has lost direction and clarity -- not-so-coincidentally like the show itself. Rick's the focal point, and he's fuzzy. That's a serious malfunction right there. Tyreese's personality arc has been handled sloppily; much like Thor, without his hammer, he's nothing. Ironically, Carol was by far the best-written character this season, and now she's being jettisoned to the hinterlands. But she'll be back. For the sake of the show, she better be.