I realize keeping geeky things to just Midweek Geekiness will not happen. It’s another reason I like goals not rigid resolutions. If things don’t work out, then I remain flexible to change. I think flexibility will benefit me in a zombie apocalypse. I will not pine for the way things used to be, and simply embrace things day by day. No room for the way things used to be when you have to face this down every day:
When Talking Dead first premiered, Kevin Smith was its first guest. He spoke about anticipating The Walking Dead, the way his mother anticipated The Young and The Restless. We just want to see our stories, and my milestone widget says we have less than a month before the second-half season première on February 8th. (Take that Outlander! Although, I anticipate that one as well.)
Here there be spoilers. Therefore proceed with caution, or just don’t read it…
When we last left our intrepid band of survivors, Beth was all set to leave until Dawn pulled a Governor and demanded Noah get left behind. I said ‘pull a governor’ as memories of Hershel’s demise at his hands, and Michonne’s katana, still remained fresh in her mind. After a couple of seasons wondering if this character served any purpose, the writers gave viewers a beautiful arc as the youngest Greene child went from wanting to die to willing to kill. Beth saw her father’s death after Rick pleaded with Phillip/Brian/Governor to lay down arms to try to work things out. Noah’s willingness to simply walk over and resume the life he hated at the hospital perhaps proved the last straw for Beth. I bet she wished she had stabbed the Governor, but Dawn will do.
We just forgot she proved pretty quick on the draw. Dawn then learned Daryl Dixon was an even quicker draw. When the scene unfolded, I sat pretty stunned at my television. As soon as the credits rolled, my friend S called and we began to debrief. It felt more like ‘de-grief’, which proved the writers did their job. While the walkers still abound, along with many ways to kill them, the biggest threat remains the living humans. The first half also reminds me a bit of Watership Down as the band of bunnies deal with different warrens, and their different leadership styles.
After the Governor and Woodbury, we got a few interesting extremes in Season 5.0.
Writer and executive producer Scott Gimple talked about Terminus as ‘institutional evil’ manifested in this new world. As they got their meal, one including Rick, Darryl, and Glen ready for slaughter, Gareth wanted tallies on the bullets used in the firefight at the end of season 4. The ‘Termites’ feel oblivious to the luring, killing, and eating of people coming to Terminus. To them it’s a dog-eat-dog world, or cattle-and-butcher in their case. Forget the walkers, the calm justification for their slaughter scared me more. In season 1 Dr. Jenner showed the brain before and after a walker comes ‘alive’. It’s driven by hunger, without memories of their human life, without some sort of choice. The Termites seem like a dark, mirror-image of Rick’s group. Faced with marauders willing to rape and kill, Rick simply dealt with the matter yet carried on. The Termites simply lost any humanity after going from prey to predator.
Nothing scares me more than a group of people doing evil while calmly go about their day.
And that brings me to…
Grady Memorial Hospital
While thinking about the groups Rick’s company met, I thought about the rabbit groups in the novel Watership Down. For some reason Dawn Lerner reminded me of General Woundwort. Woundwort rules a warren with an iron fist..er paw in the novel. On the surface, Grade Memorial has all the amenities to survive an post-zombie world. If the Governor/Brian has not happened, perhaps Rick’s group would have turned the prison into the best of both worlds with a self-sustaining population and making sure marauders do not infiltrate the group. (If the walker herd problem around the fences kept growing, it would not matter anyway.)
While Rick took in people as a way to show Carl to keep compassion alive, Dawn has not such goals. Noah, Beth, and the others are a new serf class in this world. They work off their insurmountable debt, and the ruling class behaves very much as a ruling class would behave. Joan’s rape shows a world still running unchecked, and Dawn’s indifference to her guard’s behaviour means it’s better to deal with walkers than having food and shelter under those circumstances.
Season 5.1: The Drama Continues
The mid-season finale in November left Rick’s group tattered and frayed like a blanket going through the wash too many times. Eugene’s mission is a bust, the preacher seems to screw things up, and Beth’s death brought a fresh tragedy to the group. Why do I tune into this show week after week again? It’s the same reason some people read Shakespeare’s tragedies. We watch the show to see the consequences of choice, and the meaning gained from tragedy. Yes, I also want to see innovative ways to kill a walker, usually as done by Darryl Dixon although Rick and Carol have stepped up their bad ass game.
What’s next for our survivors? Where do people go without a clear mission or goal. They just keep going, and we as viewers keep watching. It’s not about returning a world to normal, that is out of the question. Now we see what rises up in its place, and what problems does humanity still deal deal with amongst each other. I also have one burning question as well:
Will Rick shave off that beard? It’s getting less Thorin Oakenshield and more Grizzly Adams.