Awhile back Empath, Dalrock, and Oscar all recommended “Walking Dead” to me. At the time I demurred because zombies haven’t interested me since the excellent “Resident Evil 4”. That was a long time ago. It’s so long ago the only thing I’m more tired of than zombies are vampires. Thanks for nothing, Ann Rice.
Readers from last autumn may recall that another show was recommended to me, and I trashed it. There was a lengthy debate among Empath, GKC, (both fans) and myself about how to interpret story elements; whether characters and plots are meant to instruct the audience, or whether they are merely influenced by the creators’ worldviews. We will turn to that topic again, but not until after I’ve laid into this Walking Dead business.
It’s very good. At the time of the Longmire post I was in the midst of watching the first season of WD. I said then that Justified (my favorite show still in production) had a challenger. I still really like Justified, but I have to say that WD is a better show and tied for favorite. Every episode is incredibly intense. Each character is utterly believable. Those of you who live in a metropolitan area of the Southern US know them, and their interactions provide the goriest bits of the show.
The characterizations of the women are more true-to-life than any other show or move that I can recall. They cause so many problems, and generate so much unnecessary friction by the things they say and what they don’t say… As a man with a wife and three daughters I am sensitive to this reality, and I very much appreciate it being shown in the raw rather than glamorized as it almost always is. It’s shocking to me that very many women like the show. If the ratings are anything to go by, then they do.
As I said, I’m only halfway through season two, but it’s been clear to me that Shane has to die, and probably soon. The combination of hubris and self-degradation via Lori and Otis has rapidly accelerated his loss of sanity. He is obsessed with the idea of “making the hard choices”. Hard choices must be made, but in Shane’s mind hard choices only consist of who to kill and who to abandon. Unfortunately for Shane his decisions appear to be expedient to everyone else. Of course, they don’t know what he’s done. It’s only a matter of time before he decides that he needs to make the “hard choice for the good of the group”, and kill Rick. Since Rick is still on the program, I surmise that he kills Shane, and soon. (Plus, someone told me he’s dead. At the time I insisted I would not watch the show.)
I don’t know if Shane and Rick could ever have lived together in peace, but if they were to have done so then Rick would have to be more assertive in directing the group. He puts little confidence in himself, and no confidence in anyone else. He is a doubter in general. Everyone in the group naturally looks up to Rick, but his unwillingness to direct them leaves everyone uneasy. Unease metastasizes into chaos, rebellion, and depression.
There’s a scene in the last episode I watched where they’ve just killed a bunch of zombies and now it’s time to dispose the bodies. Rick just stands there, moping. One of the group tries to get the ball rolling and suggests they bury the zombies who the group loved in life. Rick mopes. Another ones makes a suggestion. Rick mopes. The members of the group know what to do, but they stand around expectantly; waiting for Rick to give them directions: bury those; get the truck; burn those; etc. They don’t need knowledge–they need courage, unity, and purpose. Those come through and from the leader.
Conversely, Rick thinks no one but him can personally handle real problems. He cannot delegate, and when delegation is forced on him he has no sense of order about him. He cannot distinguish between his responsibility, and the responsibilities of others. He has a martyr complex and makes every mistake his own fault. This robs the group of confidence and the ability to learn and gain confidence. It also robs them of a leader because he’s always running off to be the frown-faced hero. Unless of course he’s straight-up moping.
It is in this vacuum that an impulsive person like Shane loses his compass, stops being a boon, and becomes dangerous to those around him. There is a lesson in there for husbands and fathers.