Yes, it’s true, The Walking Dead is returning for its fourth season in less than two weeks, on Sunday, October 13, 2013. We’ve seen the premiere and the second episode of the season, and it’s safe to say that fans of the show should be very happy with the return. The pace does not slow from the frenetic romp of the last couple of episodes of season three. There are deaths (duh), new characters, and major plot points for the larger world pushed forward.
But we don’t want to spoil anything big for you, so instead, we’ve put together this primer of five things you should know or look out for in the first two episodes of The Walking Dead season 4.
Time Has Passed
The first episode of the season is titled “30 Days Without an Accident.” There has been some time since the season finale that saw a major shift in the group dynamic (see: huge deaths), and specifically the start of this episode is a month into relative peace and quiet. You’ll see Rick as a farmer, kids attending “school” of sorts, and some real progress toward a sense of normalcy – before everything goes to hell, of course.
New Survivors, New Romances
While there were some major deaths last season, we also got some new characters right towards the end. Prepare for even more names to remember – but don’t get too attached.
The biggest change that a month of living quietly seems to have offered to the crew is the chance for a little sumpin sumpin. There are brand-new romances, some surprise pairings, and at least one that will set Tumblr aflame. One of the most interesting additions, though, is that of the other kids to the camp. Seeing Carl play off of them adds a new dimension to his character. Seeing the kids’ disconnect to the reality of this world adds a new dimension to it, too.
Rick-tatorship be damned, the group is now led by a council. Rick was always an uncomfortable leader, but it will be interesting to see how this plays out: a group as small as this one being led by a democratic inner circle seems like a pot just waiting to boil over. We won’t spoil who exactly is on this council, but seasoned veterans of the show won’t be too surprised.
You Will Be Afraid of Supermarkets
The absolute standout scene from these first two episodes is an intense, exciting sequence in a supermarket. The slow burn from when you first realize something is wrong to the sh*t hitting the fan makes your pulse pound before anything even really happens. This is the best use of horror tension I’ve seen on the show yet, and when things go south, they plummet.
There’s likewise an incredibly serene, quiet moment in the second episode, a resignation that is beautiful and depressing and poetic. In these first two episodes, they will absolutely tell you that there is no such thing as normal anymore.
No One Is Safe
This one should come as no surprise, as it has been the mantra of both the show for three seasons and the comic book for ten years. It’s pushing forward in some big new ways in these first two episodes, however. There’s a mystery figure in the dark, a new wrinkle to the zombie infection, even more new living folk introduced, and certain characters who seem about ready to explode, including one new to the show (watch for him in that supermarket scene) and one from the comics who we’ve been waiting to see break free.
So there you have it, and as a bonus here’s one more thing to prepare you: if you thought the first three seasons had cliffhangers, just you wait. The cliffhanger to the first episode will make you say “oh sh*t,” but the cliffhanger to the second will make you say “f***ing sh*t you can’t end an episode like that, what is wrong with you people?!” So look forward to that.