The Walking Dead: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray ReviewOctober 1, 2014
AMC’s The Walking Dead is a post-apocalyptic series adapted from a popular comic book by writer Robert Kirkman. It tells the story of a band of survivors desperately trying to endure in a world decimated by a zombie virus, and the horrific choices they must make on a regular basis. The sheer amount of suffering that these characters endure changes them, sometimes hardening them into warriors and sometimes breaking them completely. The Walking Dead is easily one of the most successful and critically-acclaimed horror shows ever to air on television, inspiring a host of other horror shows to try and replicate its success. Now The Walking Dead Season 4 has arrived on Blu-ray, featuring all 16 episodes plus an UltraViolet copy and a host of special features.
Season Four of The Walking Dead opens with Rick’s group holed up in the abandoned prison after last season’s battle against the Governor. Swarms of walkers litter the outside fences, but the survivors are still trying to cling onto some semblance of hope and order. Rick tends to the farming and livestock, while Herschel offers medical assistance and Carol teaches the children in the prison library. This small amount of peace is short-lived, however, as we soon discover that a new threat has emerged within the confines of the prison’s walls in the form of a deadly virus, which immediately incapacitates and kills a large percentage of the group. The Governor is still out there, slowly banding together a new group of followers, giving our protagonists plenty to contend with this season.
While the first half of The Walking Dead Season 4 deals with the virus and the re-emergence of the Governor, the second half introduces some vital characters from the comic book, including Sgt. Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz) and Dr. Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt). Ford says that Dr. Porter has a potential cure for the zombie epidemic, so the doctor’s survival is of utmost importance for humankind. After the group is separated at the season’s midpoint, Terminus plays a central role. Everyone’s heard whispers that Terminus is a safe haven, but some have their doubts; it turns out to be populated by a particularly devious group of people, leaving viewers with a hell of a cliffhanger in the season finale.
The decision to separate the group and focus in on a few select characters throughout the episodes created a bit of a disjointed feel to the narrative, which overall was not very strong this season. That said, there were some great character moments, and a few supporting characters got a chance to shine. Tyreese and Carol, for instance, each got some interesting and emotional material to work with here. Michonne even got a bit fleshed out with some backstory , and we finally found out who her “companions” that traveled with her in previous seasons were. The overarching theme of Season 4 is the question of whether or not you can come back from the terrible things you’ve done to survive the harsh climate of the zombie apocalypse – a question which is never directly answered as much as it is shown from multiple perspectives.
As far as extras, there are a decent amount of features here. You get five commentaries featuring various actors and crew members, deleted scenes, extended episodes, and a number of behind-the-scenes featurettes. “Inside The Walking Dead” is a series of roughly five-minute videos dissecting each of the 16 episodes, from the story and characters to the actor’s thoughts on the scripts and more. “Drawing Inspiration” takes a look at the comic which The Walking Dead is based on, and the crossover between the mediums in Season Four. “Hershel” takes a look at the fan-favorite character, as well as the actor behind him. A handful of other extras look at an online course in survival, the gory effects of the show, the CGI integration, Rick’s journey from farmer to stone cold killer, and more.
It’s crazy to think that the highest-rated show on TV is a horror show based on a black and white comic, but The Walking Dead continues to push the envelope and develop intriguing story lines for its characters when it could easily rest on its laurels at this point. Sure, this season wasn’t perfect, but the focus on supporting characters led to some of Season Four’s greatest episodes. Season One is still easily the best set of episodes released thus far, and it will be interesting to see if The Walking Dead can once again deliver a season on that level of greatness. The Walking Dead: The Complete Fourth Season features a stellar audiovisual presentation, a solid set of extras, as well as an UltraViolet digital copy for all of the 16 episodes, so if you enjoyed this season you should absolutely pick up this set.