Now that AMC’s hit zombie drama The Walking Dead has shuffled off for another end-of-the-year hiatus full of casting updates and random fan speculation, we have some space to take a step back and examine the season that was. Going into season four, I was hopeful, despite the fact that, since nearly day one, I’ve had a troubled, at best, relationship with this show. Season three saw one of the best episodes of the series (“Clear”), and some of the absolute worst (“Arrow on the Doorpost,” among others). Plagued since the beginning by a lack of overall consistency, season three raised fluctuations in quality to a damn art form.
Here’s why, armed with a new showrunner, the third in the show’s short life, I still had hope. See, the new head, taking over after Glen Mazzara was unceremoniously—and publicly—ousted, is Scott M. Gimple, who, as a writer, is responsible for the best and most memorable episodes of the entire run. And low and behold, my persistence paid off, and season four is indeed the most consistent in Walking Dead history. The season is definitely a tale of two halves, bisected as it was by their annual mid-season break, but even approaching it in this manner, there was almost nothing but forward progress.