The Walking Dead Needs to Find a New Path
As season five of The Walking Dead winds down, there’s plenty to love, mostly cardigan wearing Carol being the biggest badass of them all baking tuna casserole. But it is starting to repeat its central conflicts and not moving on from them. Somewhere, somehow, wouldn’t there be some mention of Shane and Lori as Rick pursues Jesse, perhaps seeing it as his right after what happened with their affair. Alexandria feels too much like Herschel’s farm with less charm and more willful ignorance. Was Rick, flailing away having a meltdown in Alexandria, so different from Shane opening up Hershel’s barn of horror and shooting away? I know Shane was supposed to be the villain in the first two seasons, and part of what made the show compelling was moral complexity, Shane often did sound like the voice of reason in a sea of denial. Those are corpses walking, you know. If Rick wasn’t actually weak in the first two seasons, in many ways he was a victim in a domestic situation. He found his family only to find out he didn’t really have a family anymore. Unlike the comic book, television Lori prodded the eventual, inevitable showdown and became unnerving in her lack of sense of consequence, even for her children.
It took a while for Rick to rise from his own ashes. As a leader, and with a truly gifted actor playing him, greater self-reflection would wear well on Rick Grimes. I didn’t buy him waving that gun around at the clueless Alexandrians. He’s smarter than that. He can keep a secret and hold things in, to a fault. Is he horny for Jesse, sure. But in a post-apocalyptic world, I’m not blaming him for getting hooked on feeling something that doesn’t involve dread, and she plays her own part in it all. Are Deanna and the Alexandrians so weak as to think letting domestic abuse occur around children doesn’t have social consequences? The idea of not really understanding how things are post apocalypse is getting a little old. It’s not just the journey we’ve been on with the show’s main group: corpses reanimate and eat people. This is a big deal. Seeing it once really ought to get the point across. If the Alexandrians know enough to stay within the walls and develop the disturbing code of leaving people when threatened, being la-tee-da inside the walls is kind of really stupid. And doesn’t someone suggest just maybe, maybe, Shane ended up being rather restrained in the new world. The best, and truly only person to say this, of course, is Rick. Perhaps to the horror of others, perhaps to a level of relief for him.
While the old rules don’t apply (how could they, what exactly is the legal status of the undead) the probability of human extinction seems not in anyone’s vocabulary. Dr. Jenner mentioned it in season one and nary a word since. The show does focus on personal loss, which makes it compelling in the horror genre, but the loss of thousands of years of civilization and learning is a rather huge issue as well. Perhaps life could be easier for the children of the apocalypse if someone say, left a few text books around for them to read up on electricity and medicine rather than say, relying a jerk like Pete?
There seems to be a mistrust of anything and anyone intellectual on the show. I dug Milton and was sorry to see him go. Eugene always seemed a little phony, no one is as smart as he thinks he is, but even trying to write anything down seems to be death sentence on the show. Noah was actually trying to use his brain to survive. Rick showed himself to actually be a worthy leader when fighting to the death for a physically safe place regarding the prison. Basic human needs for health and safety have to be addressed and no one is amoral for suggesting so.
I don’t know what next week brings. There are interviews saying it will piss people off. Always an ‘A’ for keeping it compelling, but the “now and then” fight isn’t compelling anymore. Human beings, life for that matter, are adaptive, and not repetitive. Reinvention gives meaning to the life and death cycle, or as in The Walking Dead, the life, death, death cycle. The virus kills its host, twice over. Even without getting overly technical or scientific, this isn’t a world that can maintain. Enid says, “It’s their world now,” referring to the Walkers, but the undead have the slight issue of bacteria to deal with. The dead might walk, but they still rot. If the dinosaurs hung around as birds and humans came along, there’s another world after the apocalyptic one. There really is no reason for people to survive without that hope. Not a return to the past, or second season, but conflict based on what that next will be.