The Walking Dead returned for its fourth season tonight with an episode that felt a bit awkward in terms of the pacing. For whatever the reason, and it may very well have been the pacing, "30 Days Without An Accident" didn't feel like a season opener. But there were some interesting things introduced. Let's break it down by plot…

Spoilers if you haven't seen the Season 4 premiere!

Rick meets a crazy woman in the woods who's carrying around her zombie fiancé and looking to kill Rick to feed it.

Rick seemed like he was being somewhat openminded to the idea of helping this woman, but eventually she revealed her true motives and then stabbed herself to death so she could join her fiance. The point of this part of the episode seemed to be to show us that not everyone walks away from tragedy with their sanity. I actually didn't hate this woman's story, as I think there are probably tons of interesting and obviously incredibly depressing stories to be told in this world. I'm just not sure the premiere was the right place to put it. With that said, if the purpose of this little adventure was for Rick to take one step closer toward accepting that he's in a better place, then let's hope that's resolved.

Group goes to a store to do some shopping. It rains zombies.

Raining zombies didn't work for me, especially as I can't help but think if the roof were that unstable, that helicopter would've fallen first, or at the very least, sooner. But I'm not a structural engineer, so take that for what it's worth. The effect of the falling zombies was cool, so points for that. Beth's boyfriend was the casualty of that adventure. We'll get to that in a minute.

Something's plaguing these people….

First it was a sick pig that later died. RIP Violet. Then it was Carl's friend, who took ill, suffering from nausea and then what seemed like a really bad fever before dying in the bathroom. Obviously, this kid dying in the bathroom puts a walker in the prison and that's a very bad thing, especially considering everyone's asleep. Mayhem seems inevitable at the start of next week's episode. In the meantime, what killed this kid? Can we assume it's contagious? And if so, did he just spit it into the water supply in the shower? Next Sunday's episode is titled "Infected," so maybe this sickness will be addressed more directly.

Character updates.

Maggie and Glenn thought they were pregnant. They're not. Glenn was relieved but Maggie seemed like she was open to the situation. So that's interesting. Rick appears to be more open to the idea of bringing in outsiders and maybe questioning the line between being safe and being inhuman. I'd like to see that explored more this season. I just hope it's a bit more attached to what's going on with the other characters and not more of Rick wandering around in the woods.

Carl seems to be softening up. Not only is he naming the livestock, but he also took an interest in Carol's story-time… which was actually knife-lesson time. Carol is secretly teaching the kids how to handle knives, which I don't think is such a terrible idea. Sure, in our reality, it's not the kind of lesson you want being taught in a kindergarden class, but in a world where the dead are regularly rising and trying to eat you, Knives 101 seems like a rational addition to the course curriculum.

While Carl may be softening up, Beth seems to be hardening. When her boyfriend left the prison, she was uninterested in saying goodbye to him, despite the affection she showed him earlier. And when Daryl told her the guy died, she just sort of shrugged it off and reset her "days without an accident" sign to zero. It seems Beth is accepting that she lives in a world where things can go bad very easily. It was kind of sad to see her react the way she did, but on the other hand, she did say she was glad she got to know the guy, which suggests she's trying to live in the moment, enjoy what life brings her and not allow herself to get too attached, which may be the realistic approach.

Finally, I loved seeing Daryl and Carol together. Their friendship is one of my favorite relationships within the series. This zombie apocalypse has changed some of these characters drastically, for better or worse, but it seems evident that both have been empowered by it, either despite or because of all they've been through.

While I didn't love "30 Days Without An Accident," I'm not going to let it color my outlook on the season. I definitely think there are places to go with this series, especially now that there are new characters in the mix, including the guy who seems to have some kind of alcohol issues. Was it established that he's a recovering alcoholic? Or am I just drawing that assumption from the conflicted way he held that bottle, which he eventually put down. I wonder if he feels guilty that the bottles ended up causing that mayhem in the store. Then again, maybe the roof collapse was inevitable. Either way, I think it would be interesting to see an addict's perspective in this whole mess. With the world collapsing around them, temptation would probably be at an all time high. So it should be interesting to see where that story goes.
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