There is a significant lapse in time between where season three of AMC’s zombie drama The Walking Dead ends and where season four picks up. The gap isn’t a large as between seasons two and three, but it’s big enough to be significant and allow for some major changes. The premiere episode is called “30 Days Without an Accident,” so we’re most likely talking about at least a month or more, enough time go do some serious home renovations. You can see these for yourself as comic book creator and executive producer Robert Kirkman gives you a guided tour through the altered prison set.
At the end of season three, the gates had been breached, walkers kept getting into the prison, and is just wasn’t very secure. This is a problem when trying to survive a zombie apocalypse, especially if you just had a bunch of new people move in, as they did in the season finale, “Welcome to the Tombs.” Over the intervening days, weeks, and perhaps months, the team has certainly been busy, as you can see from the new set. Not only did they shore up their perimeter, lessening the likelihood that their border will be breached, but they’ve added a number of nice touches, from both a practical standpoint as well as where comfort is concerned. There are stashes of useful zombie killing implements placed around the prison yard and along the fences, in places where they’re most likely to come in handy. The outer fence is lined with items like knives, clubs, and other stabby devices, should you need to poke a zombie in the brainpan.
New additions mean that they need that much more space, and Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and company have opened up additional areas of the prison for living. They’ve expanded from their initial digs in Cell Block C over into Cell Block A. They’ve also made use of all sorts of tools, utensils, and such that were left hanging out around the prison. Hell, they’ve even got a makeshift power plant going with a generator and tons of old batteries. That means electricity, maybe even hot showers. While you can bet it’s rather limited, that’s a whole hell of a lot better than most people have it out there. In the comics they even have movie nights, so maybe they can watch episodes of The Wire and see two of their cast mates, Chad Coleman and Lawrence Gilliard Jr.
As great as all the other advancements are, the biggest strides the survivors have made are in food production. The other stuff is nice, but aside from patching the holes in the walls, nothing else is going to keep them alive like this. We’ve seen in promos that they managed to wrangle up some pigs, and a horse for Michonne (Danai Gurira), but Kirkman shows us their enclosure and makes it clear that they have animals for both food and utilitarian purposes. Taking another cue from the comics, they’ve also started farming. Hershel (Scott Wilson) has a background with both livestock and crops, so odds are he plays a significant role in this new endeavor. Now they can produce their own supplies instead of scrounging around, relying on dumb luck to discover some cans of mystery foods that may or may not have gone bad.
Here’s the downside. All of this security, this comfort, is well and good, but when you get comfortable you get complacent, you start to shirk, and you’re not as careful. When you’re not paying attention because you feel like everything is just peachy keen, that’s when you make a mistake, and with a margin of error this thin, you can’t afford that. Like I said, the title of the first episode is “30 Days Without an Accident.” What do you want to bet that it isn’t much more than 30 days before something catastrophic occurs?
The Walking Dead returns from the dead on Sunday, October 13.