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12 September, 2014

REVIEW: The Walking Dead (AMC Network TV Series): Season 4 Premiere - Episode 1 "30 Days Without An Accident"

A number of plot points will inevitably be revealed in the course of these writings.  My intent is to review this program from the perspective of the Doomer / Prepper / Survivalist community, but, to do that effectively, some things have to be explained in greater detail than I might normally prefer in a review.  As a result, spoilers will follow.  You have been warned.  In truth, you might more accurately describe these posts as in-depth discussions of certain aspects of each episode with an emphasis on how the character's actions might be applicable in a real-life societal collapse.  I hope you enjoy.

Ever wonder if there's anything to be learned from survival Doomer fiction like The Walking Dead? I think so. Here's what I mean...
As this episode begins, the premiere episode of the fourth season, it is unclear exactly how much time has passed since the last episode of the previous season when Rick chose to take in a large number of survivors from the town of Woodbury. What is obvious, however, is that some time has definitely passed; we find the people at the prison living an almost idyllic, peaceful life.
Ever wonder if there's anything to be learned from survival Doomer fiction like The Walking Dead? I think so. Here's what I mean...
Rick, under the tutelage of Herschel, has become what can only be described as a fairly avid farmer. There are crops growing in the ground in the yard of the prison, structures have even been built, including a pen where a small herd of pigs are being raised, and snares have been set in the woods around the perimeter of the fence in order to catch small game.

In addition, the community at the prison is being run as something of a Republic. A council of citizens rules. It is never explicitly stated as such, but I imagine they have been elected, considering that Rick made statements toward the end of last season about him no longer running things as a dictator, opting instead to allow the group to vote and make their own choices. A true sense of community seems to have arisen around the prison. People have jobs and responsibilities, and have even begun to pair off in romantic relationships. Also, it is explicitly stated that they have been bringing in other survivors as they find them, not just the group from Woodbury that we saw in the previous season's finale episode.

The community even has a story time in the evenings for all of the children. Interestingly enough, that has always been a part of my own plans in the event of a societal collapse. Part of my emergency preparedness efforts have included the procurement of a plethora of books for just such a purpose, and, if electricity is still available as an off-grid option, I even have a ton of home movies on DVD. I think that having a movie night on two separate nights of each week (showing the same film, because not everyone will be able to go off-duty during the first showing) will go a great deal toward keeping the morale of the people high. Just an idea I have always floated.

I will take this opportunity once again to say that I really like the idea of utilizing an abandoned prison as a retreat location in such a societal collapse. You have stoutly constructed buildings that will hold up to adverse weather conditions, all of which have been built with security in mind. Granted, their original purpose was to keep people inside, but switching things around to keep people out doesn't take a lot of imagination. The guard towers and fences alone make it attractive to me as a stronghold. There's a good chance that there may be supplies in large quantities, assuming one can get there and take it over before it has been raided and pillaged, and there are enough rooms with beds and other logistical areas such as showers, etc. to make it possible for a decent-sized group to live there together. And, lastly, as the show has made clear, there is usually enough land within the fences to grow crops and keep livestock in the yard.

Of course, there are many drawbacks. Chief among the reasons one might argue against utilizing a prison as a survival retreat is the fact that it is too visible. Doing something along these lines could easily result in you being the subject of attacks by outsiders who want what you have. To be brutally honest, the only way it works is with a larger group. There's simply no way that a single family could maintain the security needed to hold such a valuable position. As a stronghold, though, it is hard to beat in my estimation. One thing I would suggest is that, if possible, you forgo the idea of a state prison in favor of utilizing a federal facility. I'm not sure if all of them are alike, but every federal correctional facility that I have seen has walls made of stone, rather than the two-tiered chain-link fences separated by a dog run that we see in the show and that is prevalent among most state correctional facilities. Thick stone walls, coupled with the guard towers at regular intervals, brings one tantalizingly close to the philosophy I have been a champion of for quite a while, namely Medieval Survivalism ( <--- please take a moment and read through the articles at that link). Just some food for thought.

As with many of the episodes of this particular piece of Doomer Fiction, this episode also presents us with some very important points and lessons as well as making us ask some questions of ourselves when thinking about what we might do in the event of a societal collapse if we are faced with the same choices these characters face. Examples of this are questions as to whether or not one should bring a child into a world where survival is so difficult as well as the need to teach children how to survive – one cannot let it be all about gardening without touching on how to use a weapon and vice versa. Versatility is key, and survival means knowing how to take care of yourself in more ways than one. Likewise, we see a more pacifist side to Rick that is disconcerting to me. In a survival situation, there truly is little hope for someone who doesn't have it in them to do what is necessary to protect themselves and the people they love. That is simply a nonnegotiable fact.

Truly, this episode touches on many things that are important to those of us in the Prepper / Survivalist community. Proper operational security and the use of discretion comes into play as we see the group has qualifying questions that are posed to any outsider before it is decided whether they will be allowed into the community. Without going into a great deal of detail, the questions come down to wanting to know whether or not the person has killed any other living human beings and, if so, why? I imagine this is because they are gaining wisdom after the problems they had with the prisoners who were in the facility before they took it over. I can't say it is a bad idea, however, I don't understand how they intend to get around the fact that someone could simply lie to them. It's not like they can check it out.

Sadly, this is something that is very important in a survival situation where society has collapsed and law and order no longer exists, because you simply never know who might be dangerous and who isn't. Another part of the plot of this episode shows us in stark detail that some people who survive do so at the cost of their own humanity and often their sanity as well. The things they have done to stay alive break them, and there comes a point where there is no way for them to come back from that.

Ever wonder if there's anything to be learned from survival Doomer fiction like The Walking Dead? I think so. Here's what I mean...
For the first time, we also come across a survivor and member of the community who it turns out has an issue with alcohol. My thoughts are thus: I am no prude by any means. Personally, I am an occasional drinker and smoker. What I am not, however, is under the sway of an addiction to either of these things, and I would strongly advise that, if you are, you do everything in your power to kick that habit here and now. To put it bluntly, anyone who is an alcoholic or has a dependency to drugs is a danger to themselves, their family, and everyone else around them.

There may be times, even in a societal collapse situation, that it will be possible for one to have the freedom to unwind and tie one on, but such things can only be done in relative safety and when someone else is fulfilling the responsibilities of keeping guard, etc. In a situation where survival is a day-to-day effort, one cannot afford to be out of their wits or have their reflexes and/or judgment impaired. It is as simple as that. You will end up getting yourself or someone else killed, either because you weren't able to handle the situation or because you're doing something stupid in order to acquire what you need to feed your addiction, which is what we see in this episode and which gets one of the characters killed. Break the cycle of addiction now, while you have all of the support needed and available through polite society to do so.

And, last but not least, we see the characters going on a foraging run for supplies as will be necessary from time to time, even in the event that you have a very well-stocked and thought-out retreat. There are quite simply some things you are going to run out of, things that are going to break, tools you will need, etc. Go ahead and wrap your head around the fact that foraging for supplies is going to be a necessity at times, and these runs are going to be dangerous. There simply no way to get around that, but there are ways to reduce the danger. For instance, we see in this episode that the foraging party enters the large department store where they are looking for supplies in formation and sweeping the building for hostiles before going about their efforts in regards to the supplies. This is wise and is something that should be practiced when training is an opportunity.

The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season [Blu-ray] --- [DVD]

The Walking Dead: The Complete Second Season [Blu-ray] --- [DVD]

The Walking Dead: The Complete Third Season [Blu-ray] --- [DVD]

The Walking Dead: The Complete Fourth Season [Blu-ray] --- [DVD]

My previous reviews for this series can be accessed by clicking the links below:

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