The Walking Dead: How Lost Fans Crave Answers That Will Never Come.
Greetings CBC readers. Now that AMC’s The Walking Dead has come to a close (after merely six episodes) I can formulate my thoughts on the show more coherently. I tell thee truly, I was a bit apprehensive at first about this show for a variety of reasons. I know what you’re thinking, “CBC, this show is amazing, wtf are you talking about.” And yes, dear reader, you are correct. But let me go into my concerns.
I was hesitant to jump into a show about a Zombie apocalypse because well, the premise seems so hopeless. Again, I know what you’re thinking. I, a die hard fan of Lost, a show about airline passengers trapped on a dessert island, am judging a Zombie apocalypse drama as being too hopeless (and in a way come on, a zombie apocalypse is totally more hopeless than being trapped on a dessert island. But I digress.) Having not known initially how long or short the season would be, I asked myself at the beginning, “Self, can you really watch a 20 episode season of folks running away from Zombies? Won’t that get old?” And occasionally it did, to be honest with you. I mean, Zombie apocalypse = good premise for a movie but a serialized TV show? But just like Lost was never about the island, The Walking Dead is heading towards that description of: “Not really about Zombies.”
The first episode immediately grabbed you with the alluring premise and chilling opening scene. The real drama, however was when our hero, Sherriff Rick came in contact with fellow survivors Morgan and Duane. The themes of isolation, survival and family immediately came into play and we were torn to pieces when Morgan struggled to shoot (or not) his Zombie-fied wife who still eerily roamed their front porch. It was clear at that point that a Zombie virus spreading throughout the world would do more than violently kill everyone on the planet, and he show showed us that violence. But it also dared to ask what kind of emotional trauma would happen to those people who are still alive? PTSD much?
The next two episodes are where I got kind of tired. The show still dealt with some pretty interesting issues: societal structure, gender roles, human reaction to lack of organization etc. but the absence of details started to grade on me. What are the zombies exactly? Why did this happen? How did this happen? Who was patient zero? What has happened in other cities? Did it/how did it go global? Is the whole thing Rick’s coma dream? Why were the soldiers killing people in the hospital? And why didn’t the soldier shoot Rick as he lied there, potentially a future Zombie? Why do I feel the need to capitalize the word Zombie? I need ANSWERS!!! I know, I know…Lost fans can’t demand answers nor claim to be frustrated at the lack thereof. Lost didn’t nor will The Walking Dead have actual, tangible answers. It’s sci-fi/fantasy, they don’t exist. Yet, to bring in another medium in the Zombie trend, one of the reasons why I liked the novel World War Z so much was that it provided some answers. I liked the backwards approach to its research and the feeling that I was reading a really thorough alterna-global history of this event. I guess with the show I became frustrated that I didn’t know what the heck was going on outside of this group of people which is….probably exactly how the show wants me to feel, considering that’s what the characters feel. Still, Norman Reedus was there to help me along. I mean, there he was, a badass McManus brother there to protect us from the Zombies. You can’t do an Irish accent for shit dude, but you nailed the Southern hick.
Anyway, the last three episodes are, I think, where the show really shined. The attack on the camp scared the crap out of me. I can’t imagine I’d have any concept of what to do or how to survive were I in that situation (although I did get a 2+ years of survival probability on Facebook’s Zombie apocalypse quiz!) I was skeptical of the whole Latin gang sub plot to begin with, and the grandma wandering in to save the day from a shootout seemed a bit contrived at first. But when it came to light that they were really just a bunch of nurses, custodians and citizens watching over an old folk’s home I was seriously astounded. The death and resurrection of Amy and her relationship with Angela was a really fantastic piece of television. When we finally got out of the wilderness and into the 20th century, Jenner offered lots of wine but few possibilities. FUN FACT! (From Doc Jensen) “Dr. Edwin Jenner” must surely be named after Edward Jenner, the man who cured smallpox and the so-called “Father of Immunology.” I felt even more hopeless when the survivors (what shall we call them? Walkies? Zombie-bait?) learned that the CDC had basically discovered very little about the infestation and Jenner criticized the world for its idiotic reliance on fossel fuels. See…I’m feeling hopeless.
The finale left us with some cliffhanger questions: What happened to Merle? How are Morgan and Duane doing? What did Jenner whisper into Rick’s ear right at the end? (Theories: Lori is preggers. And it isn’t Rick’s. OR The virus is airborne. Though it’s hard to read message boards and still avoid spoilers from the comics). So here’s where I get apprehensive again. What do I have to look forward to with next season (said to be airing around Halloween of 2011)? Will there be more hopeless running from Zombies? Yes. Will there be more blood and gore? Yes. Will AMC amp up the budget a bit to allow for some better explosion CGI? Yes. (Considering that according to CNN, The Walking Dead is doing better than Mad Men). Will the characters struggle with their identities, grow and change, ala my beloved Losties? Most likely. But what do we do with a show where the inevitable is pretty much that they’re all going to bite it? Some literally. How do we start to care for these people when we just expect them to be eaten? And to be honest, I care for only a few of these characters so far, Amy was one of them, Dale and Angela are others. I did care about Jenner, with his Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz who can’t do shit persona. Lori and Shane are both annoying me, and Rick can go back and forth. Like Doc said, “Frantic, Shane searched his friend for a heartbeat and breath. ‘Show me a sign! Anything!’ Shane cried, bluntly verbalizing the give-me-reason-to-hope theme that would feed th’ entire episode. Alas, all signs pointed to dead.” Do they? Should we not hope, as an audience? Cause then, I don’t know that there’s a point. Doc goes on to ask “Will The Walking Dead ultimately conclude umpteen seasons from now with Team Rick boarding a cruise ship bound for The Continent? Or will the saga end with teams of Hazmat-clad French super-soldier/scientists landing at South Beach armed with syringes to liberate us from our Undead Occupation — D-Day in World War Z? Whatever happens, the subtext of the scene confirmed that The Walking Dead is about survival and only about survival — not rescue or resolution. For anyone that worried that the trip to the CDC portended a major break from the comic’s zombie-life-sucks harsh reality… Gotcha! “TS-19” diverted from the source material simply to affirm its fundamental point of view. For newcomers to the Walking Dead world, that may sound riveting enough to continue forging ahead (and if you’ve read the comics, you know it can be); for others, this may sound too bleak to make the commitment.” Yeah…I’m not sure where I stand just yet, though I cannot deny the show is damned good.