The Walking Dead: A Wishlist for Season 4

By Tim Surette

Oct 11, 2013

So I checked the calendar on my Palm Pilot today and WOW The Walking Dead returns for Season 4 on Sunday! How did I not know that? It snuck up on me just like all those times zombies have snuck up on the survivors when they clearly should have seen, heard, and smelled the bastards coming. But in this case, instead contracting some virus that will turn me into a biter, I have to remember what happened in Season 3 and write up some hopes for Season 4. (Hmmm, maybe I'd prefer the zombie virus... J/K I love writing about this show!) 

Don't get me wrong, I like The Walking Dead, but the show can be a pretty frustrating watch at times. So here we go, a quick wishlist for Season 4. Hopefully it's not too late for AMC to read this and schedule some reshoots if the episodes that are already filmed don't comply with my requests. 

I remember Season 3 being very all over the place, with some great episodes ("This Sorrowful LIfe," "Clear") sandwiched between some real stinkers ("Prey," "Welcome to the Tombs"). Which brings me to my first wish:


BE MORE CONSISTENT

Three seasons in, there two things I'd say when describing the show to people who haven't seen it: 1.) It's about zombies, and 2.) It's wildly inconsistent. It seems like The Walking Dead can't sustain excellence for more than a couple hours, and I tend to have an uneasy feeling going into each new episode. Will it be great, as the series has proved it can be from time to time? Or will it be a deflating disaster, ruining momentum by chasing Andrea around the countryside as she runs between Woodbury and the prison? The Walking Dead isn't under the strain of a full 22-episode network TV season; this is a 16-episode run with a break in the middle. Clearly, The Walking Dead could be one of television's finest dramas if it ironed a few things out, and achieving a consistent level of quality is the first step.

Some of the inconsistency of Season 3 could be attributed to The Walking Dead's fractured storytelling. Half of it took place at the prison, and half of it took place at Woodbury. To which I say....


KEEP THE GROUP TOGETHER

Not only do we want to see the survivors turn zombies into pieces of zombies, we also want to see how they deal with the stress of survival—and more specifically, how dodging flesh-eaters impacts the way they interact with each other. While Andrea's cushy life at Woodbury made for an interesting contrast relative to the struggling prison folk, that's about the only positive thing that came out of her storyline. Removing someone from the group for almost an entire season doesn't add drama to the core of the show, it splits it up, and guess what? The Woodbury side of things wasn't all that compelling. A lot of people hated Andrea for everything she did in Season 3, but the writers deserve a lot of the blame for choosing to separate her and making her act that way. I bet we would have been equally disappointed if any other character had been in Andrea's place. 

While the Woodbury story did introduce the Governor as the main threat to Rick and friends, and while that storyline had its moments, is a human threat really what want from The Walking Dead? It's not what *I* want...


MAKE THE WAR HUMANS VS. ZOMBIES, NOT HUMANS VS. HUMANS

There's a Catch-22 with The Walking Dead and its ambition to be a never-ending zombie movie: It can't only feature people running away from zombies (or can it? I'd still watch). So it's tempting for the writers to explore how humans can be the real monsters, and to create a really bad dude who's power hungry in this lawless new world. But the Governor vs. Rick was too black and white and easy. It was them vs. us, their clubhouse through the woods vs. our fort over here. The Governor was a terrible crazy person who kept his zombie daughter in a tiny closet, for crying out loud, yet he spent all his time trying to prove he wasn't crazy when we already knew the truth. 

We don't need an outsider to add drama. Because the show will be much more efficient is it can just...


KEEP THE DRAMA WITHIN THE GROUP

The real drama is going to come from in-fighting within the group (miss you, Shane), so let the zombies push the gang into a corner and watch as their different stances on survival bubble to the surface and expose deeper problems. Yes, that already happened in Season 1 and Season 2 thanks to Shane, but how great was it to have a "bad" guy you could root for? That way we all got our man vs. undead fix, and the tension between survivors was always present—as opposed to what happened in Season 3, when we were waiting for a war between two different camps that never happened.

What's more, we need to see some more personality within the group. The Walking Dead has a fairly large cast of characters, yet only a few of them are defined enough to really stand out. So, please, The Walking Dead, I beg of you...


STOP WASTING CHARACTERS

Heading into Season 4, we still don't know much about Carol or Beth, other than one of them needs some manly attention and the other one sings. Both of them are just hanging around waiting to die, and in the meantime they'll taking turns holding Lil' Asskicker. But many of the show's other characters aren't in much better shape. The Walking Dead has always put more emphasis on situations than on the characters who experience them; when the show does try a character-centric approach, it ends up with Rick crying or taking phone calls from ghosts. There's plenty of room for The Walking Dead to define its characters within the throngs of survival stress, and the show needs to figure out how to do so. Remember how much we learned about Carl, Michonne, Rick, and Morgan in the excellent episode "Clear"? More of that kind of development, please. Otherwise all we've got is a group of horror-movie characters biding time until they're eaten. That should be the main difference between The Walking Dead and Generic Zombie Movie, because the medium of television allows more time to make us care about these people before the show turns them into zombie chow. Make us like 'em, and then stand back and watch as we cry our eyes out when a zombie bites their nose off. 

There's one character on the show who's perfect for an arc like this, and I have high hopes that his story will really develop this season. So, finally...


MAKE CARL THE BADASS HE DESERVES TO BE

In the past, we've seen glimmers of The Walking Dead taking Carl in a direction we've always anticipated. He's an impressionable kid who's likely to adapt to this world quicker than others because he doesn't know any better. But his roller coaster ride through the show's first three seasons has dipped and looped through lots of parental nuisance ("Stay in the house, Carl!") and brooding brattiness, with only an occasional meaningful trigger pull in between. Now is the time to push his arc hard and let him mature into whatever dark survivalist he's going to be. Actor Chandler Riggs is growing up fast; if The Walking Dead doesn't do this soon, he's going to be TV's wussiest 18-year-old.


And there you have it, folks, a couple of changes I'd like to see The Walking Dead make in Season 4. Follow these easy steps and watch the Teen Choice Awards roll in, AMC! 



What's on YOUR wishlist for the show? 


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  • JamieParsonsV Oct 28, 2013

    There's already been 2 human v human storylines in the comics, there's only so much you can do with zombies.

  • Svanehjerte Oct 13, 2013

    First of all I want more plot and storyline! I want them to actually do something other than just gather food and shit. Character development is fine, but I feel there has already been too much talk and whining in this series, with some zombie-killing gore thrown in between. That's why I liked Milton. Him being a scientist offered some potential to add more virus-related plot, but then they killed him off. I also liked the CDC part of season 1, but then they blew that place up...

    For me it is important that they don't kill off many more of the main characters. We need some constants to actually CARE about. Beth is expendable though. She's boring. Daryl is off-limits! So is Rick.

    Carl is a little douche. If he is going to be a likable badass, then they'll need to make him less cold. He shot a kid in cold blood as a child... If they don't make him better than that, he'll just seem like another Governor-type of character = a bad guy.

    I would like to see more good people actually, more smiles and more helping one another. Why? Because I want them to stick together and focus more on the real threat - the zombies! And most important - what to do with them. PLOT! There are limits to how long it's fun to watch "survival".

  • peterspoor33 Oct 14, 2013

    Despite all the Andrea hate, I would of liked to have seen an Andrea and Milton team up, they were good together and their last moments were almost romantic from a disturbed perspective.

  • CiaraOHagan Oct 12, 2013

    Disagree about the humans vs humans thing. the interesting thing about a zombie apocalypse would be seeing how it changes people. the problem is that the show tried to do that but they just gave us a bad guy like the governor and had all our group be the good guys. Really they should be running into a lot more groups where people have just gone nuts and groups that are running better than ricks group

  • ChandraJordan1 Oct 12, 2013

    Yeah, I doubt the Teen Choice Awards are the end goal for them as they develop the show

  • itsmemadie01 Oct 12, 2013

    I love more zombie than human drama c'mon the Governor is a good character but if he is the only threat this show will not differ from any other shows with human conflict. More Daryl, Glenn and Mischonne less Rick drama.

  • PondaWeakley Oct 12, 2013

    The most important thing is for ambiguous nit pickers like this to stop sharing their UNinsightful opinions.

  • PeachezFalcon Oct 12, 2013

    Wishlist: Stop killing off the black people

  • antmorris3511 Oct 12, 2013

    You don't have to be black to be killed on this show. This is a show about death. Literally. So people will continue to die, irregardless of skin tone. I don't think Michonne will die, because she has so many fans the show would probably lose lots of viewers.

  • PeachezFalcon Oct 13, 2013

    Think of all the black males that have died to make way for another black male to play the same character or a similar character type. I know that characters will die but it's interesting which characters are considered disposable on this show. Can't imagine a show that takes place in the South having so few black characters. *shrugs* Glenn, Maggie, Michonne, and Carl are the only characters I'm holding out hope for.

  • antmorris3511 Oct 13, 2013

    its not likely any of them will die. look how long Carol's been around. Its almost as if her character exists just for context.

    the again a show will kill off a heroic core cast member just to make the audience feel something. Laurie Holden specializes in playing heroic characters who crash and burn. Misery and despair are her specialties. IDK why this is blue.

  • lalaforever1989 Oct 12, 2013

    Totally. That and she's a great character from the comics. Her story will get explored. To the OP there is still hope, they seem to be adding all these new characters. I need to drive a few miles up the road and try to be an extra one day.

  • ButterMeUp44 Oct 11, 2013

    I miss Shane.

  • Ralike Oct 11, 2013

    I agree with the humans vs humans part. I feel like it should be more zombie vs humans what's the point of calling it the walking dead and having the plot about zombies and we barely see them

  • sangbaran Oct 11, 2013

    I understand it should be humans versus humans but one thing writers forgot it the story pans out in a zombie world where humans are a minority.
    There should be more cases of huge zombie herds being seen or engaged ( read bigger budget)

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