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“The Walking Dead”: A gory lesson in human resilience

It's rare we see Rick Grimes unencumbered by the mantle of leadership. But last night, as season 4 of AMC's hit series began, we witnessed the stressed-out sheriff enjoying some serious me-time. Last season, we saw Rick resist the role of tribe leader and sow the seeds of post-apocalyptic democracy by urging Hershel, Glen, Carol, and the others to vote rather than rely on him to make decisions about their combined fates. Now, it seems his words have borne some fruit. Hershel alludes to a "counsel" whose mandates trump even the sheriffs. And Rick finds some time to work with his hands.

There are still undead mashing their rotted flesh up against the gates, but the pace of terror seems to have slowed considerably inside the prison. As the episode unfolds, each member of the group handles this relative peace in his or her own way. As a provider for younger and greener additions to the population, Daryl has become a local celebrity worthy of his rock star haircut. Carol urges him to accept his Robin Hood-like status even while she steps into a more nurturing role around camp. It's nice to see these two still close, but they've each been through too much gore to let sap or affection overcome them.

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