The fourth season premiere of The Walking Dead kicked off where we left, with Rick's group and the survivors of Woodbury trying to build a life within the confines of the prison. It's a somewhat prosperous and inhabitable environment, complete with a canteen, crops and livestock. But it's far from rosy. Zombies surround the fence and are swelling in number every day, the Governor's whereabouts are unknown, and the survivors are susceptible to madness and disease.
At first it seems The Walking Dead has turned Little House on the Prairie. Rick (Andrew Lincoln) has turned his hand to farming, growing vegetables and tending the pigs. Everyone else seems to have organised duties and there's even a story-time session for the children. It's hard to gauge how many people were rescued from Woodbury, but the show's roster of characters has at least doubled. It's take time to get used to the new ones, but for now they're more walking redshirts than people.
The Raining Dead
Two of the new characters, wily teen Zack (Kyle Gallner) and quiet man Bob (Lawrence Gilliard, Jr aka D'Angelo Barksdale from the Wire) join a group that ventures out hunting for supplies. In another increasingly inventive set piece, they venture into an abandoned supermarket, not knowing a whole helicopter full of zombies had previously crash landed on the roof, making the building very unstable.
The undead raining through the roof is fantastically scary, another one of those disgustingly visceral moments that only The Walking Dead can do. The lack of goodbye with Beth (Emily Kinney) was the moment we knew that new character Zack wasn't going to be in for the long haul, and sure enough he found himself bitten and turned. Beth's coldness to the news, getting up to update the accidents at work sign number down to zero shows just how routine death has become, and how the characters have steeled themselves towards such loss.
Sickness and Madness
If not, you might end up like Clara (Kerry Condon), the crazy Irish lady that Rick finds out in the woods. A bedraggled figure scurrying round the forest for food, she is in such a poor state that she already resembled one of the walkers. Taking Rick to see her husband Eddie, the reveal that he is dead and she is crazy comes as no surprise. Rick might have recovered from his mental breakdown over Lori's death, but Clara offers a glimpse of what could have befallen the former sheriff's deputy, and what still might happen if harm ever comes to Carl (Chandler Riggs) and baby Judith.
There's little development then from last season, but to assuage fears of the show's stasis we are offered at the end of the episode the suggestion that the biggest danger to the group's safety will come from in. Nerdy looking newcomer Patrick (Vincent Martella) complains he's not feeling well, before collapsing in the shower and turning in to a zombie. We've known that you can turn into a zombie without being bitten, ever since Randall came back reanimated in season two, but becoming zombified through illness is something new entirely and a frightening prospect.