The Walking Dead Season 4: Rick Struggles to Be a Father Versus a Leader
Much has been said of Lori's lack of mothering skills on The Walking Dead. She even admitted she would never win Mother of the Year, which was deemed one of the great understatements of the zombie apocalypse. But Rick has never been Father of the Year either — although that may change on Season 4, which starts October 13 on AMC.
Rick and Lori got caught up in their own love triangle soap opera on Season 2 — ignoring son Carl, who filled the time by getting shot, throwing rocks at walkers, and staring down the captive Randall. At the end of Season 2, Rick declared himself The Ricktator, with no more sass from the former "democracy." When Lori died in the prison, Carl was the one who stayed strong, eerily stone-faced as he shot his mom before she could turn. Rick fell apart. He went crazy. He started getting fake phone calls. He saw visions of his dead wife. He pushed Tyreese and Sasha's group over to Team Woodbury when they wanted to help out at the prison. He did everything but spend any time with his son — never mind that baby he's raising as his own whether she's really his daughter or Shane's.
The Ricktator turned into a lousy leader. (Although maybe he'd make a great Wall Street CEO, since they did plenty of damage and managed to walk away with golden parachutes.) By the end of Season 3, he had abdicated his throne and we were back to a democracy.
Andrew Lincoln talked to Entertainment Weekly about Rick's new mindset going into Season 4. "I think you find him in a completely different place.” However, “I do think that the struggle within him is still there, which is whether or not he should be leader at the expense of being a father figure."
There's a time jump of a few months between Season 3 and Season 4, and the 50 or so Woodbury people who joined the prison at the end of Season 3 have now been there through a winter. We'll see plenty of prison upgrades, including new cell block areas and even a garden — where Rick is now Farmer Rick. He seems pretty zen, not anxious to get back into a fight with The Governor, who is still out there and whom Michonne is still very interested in tracking down.
One person who wasn't happy to see Woodbury people join the prison was young Carl. Carl has some of The Governor's stranger danger mentality, which is something Rick had to pull himself out of when he emerged from his grief haze. Rick is now ready to stop pushingeveryone away, but he needs to help Carl accept that mindset instead of viewing everyone as a threat. So he’ll be spending more time with Carl. But what about the baby? There's a brief moment in the Season 4 trailer where Rick cradles his little girl. It’s nice to see he remembers she exists.
EW asked if Rick would be spending more "quality time" with Judith. (Or Judy? Judi? Judith sounds so formal.) "I suppose any time that I'm not killing zombies is quality time for Rick," Andrew said. "But yeah, you do. And I think that certainly after the death of Lori, I think that a lot was brought into question, certainly in that last episode. And Andrea helped that sort of narrow his focus much more on his son, who obviously is in a very, very disturbed state toward the end of last season, and I think he has to take responsibility for that. Yeah, I do think you see a lot more of him, you know, attempting this role."
But if Rick is spending more time in the Dad zone, that leaves a leadership vacuum. Who will take over? Hershel? Michonne? Carol? Tyreese? Sasha? Do you think Rick will ultimately find his way back into the leadership role? And do you think Carl is really “in a very, very disturbed state” or do you think he had a reasonable reaction to that teenager who was so slow to lower his weapon? People seem to be split on Carl.