The Talking Dead
WARNING: THIS MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR SOME READERS
I’ve recently started watching The Walking Dead after pining to watch it since I saw it advertised when season 1 was about to begin. I caught snippets of it but never got round to actually sitting down to watch it.
So, I’ve now watched all of the first season and I love it – but there are haters out there. Why?
The show didn’t turn out to be what I expected – but that’s a good thing. I expected your typical diet of nonsensical violence and gore that is only fitting of a zombie apocalypse. But the show, thankfully, is not as shallow as that.
Now my views may be slightly different to yours and other avid viewers’ but I think that’s the beauty of the show – we all take something different away from the viewing experience.
To me, the show is a mere social study of human nature and how they adapt or react to certain events. The zombie setting is merely a back drop to show the true nature of humanity – you could easily have had a different setting such as a post apocalyptic world, a world enslaved by aliens etc. Zombies, though, is something I think we can relate to because it’s the other aspects of humanity that this cataclysmic event brings to light.
Take Rick Grimes. Deputy Sheriff, shot in a shoot out and left in a coma for one month. In that time, the world he left behind changed dramatically for reasons unknown. He wakes up to find the world in tatters. Now begins the social study.
As the series expands, you learn more of his past prior to the zombie infestation and after. Breaking and entering, looting and various other anti social behaviours are observed when seeing the man of the law in action. But this is merely human nature – when there is no law, no order, the only rule is to survive.
The biggest social commentary, however, is that in one month – or less as he’s in a coma for one month but you’re not sure when the event started – the world goes crazy in the wake of this extinction level event in such a short period. This is the most interesting thing about what the show is hinting at as in every single scene – in the presence of such adversity society as we know it is so fragile it crumbled in anything from a few days to a few weeks with everything we take for granted no longer there such as television, radio, mobile phones, electricity, hot water, readily available food and supplies.
Another commentary on human nature I quite liked and can relate to is when Rick has encountered Morgan and his son Duane. Morgan’s wife had recently turned and during one of the scenes in a house in Rick’s neighbourhood, the wife returns to the house they’re holding up in indicating some aspect of her humanity remains – my take on it is that she has some residual memory as she may have recently been turned and in time that memory may then be lost as the brain cells start to decompose and she loses full function of the more advanced instincts and neurological activity.
Later on, Morgan wants closure so he can move on and the only way to do so is to put what once was his wife to rest. With her in the cross-hairs of the scope of the sniper rifle he had acquired in the police station with Rick, he buckles because he still sees his wife even though he knows nothing of her remains apart from the decaying carcass that once embodied her life essence.
Once Rick reaches Atlanta in the hope of refuge he eventually meets more survivors, all desperate to survive and all driven by their own goals and agendas. It’s here that I realised that the zombies our species are contending with actually demonstrate, albeit very limited, traits that the humans should be clinging. For example, the zombies tend to move in groups and regardless of the condition of their bodies, they continue and struggle on due to the sweet scent of human flesh.
Obviously they have little or no consciousness, but the human characters are all have their own selfish needs and desires which puts the group at risk. Rick, being a man of the law, sees fit to try and help anyone and everyone and because of this, when some of the group head back into the city to rescue Merle who they had inadvertently left behind, handcuffed to some pipes on the roof.
Rick and Merle, upon meeting each other conflicted from the on-set. Now this is another strong social commentary – based on Rick’s life, or former life prior to the zombie outbreak dictates the type of choices he makes. Merle’s life does the same, but Merle clearly had a different path in life based on his racial comments and, no doubt, colourful criminal background.
Merle, being more of an animal than a human, cuts off his hand in desperation and by the type Rick and the others reach the rooftop, Merle is gone.
Throughout the series there are subtle and there are in-your-face comments about our nature and instincts and how fragile we actually are or can be. Another scene, when Rick runs out of gas on the way to Atlanta, where he checks out a farmhouse where the man had killed his wife and then killed himself probably around the time the zombie infestation first began and some writing begging God for forgiveness in blood.
If we were to analyse human nature as it stands now, all of these behaviours are present in the various societies across the globe because circumstance will drive the various types of behaviour in one direction or another but obviously to make a point, there needs to be some kind of event that can then bring humanity together into the same circumstance so the behaviours can be observed in a fairer and more evident manner.
Suicide, is an idea that has fascinated me from my teen years and many times I’ve thought about doingit – but then I wonder what would the impact of my death have around me. To people directly involved it would probably have a large impact but the further you move out from the…inner circle, if you will, the lesser the impact. Just like the ripples from a drop in a puddle – the immediate ripples are clear and powerful but as they radiate outward they lose power.
In relation to the show, one has to wonder how many people actually killed themselves and could this make a difference between the survival or extinction of our race? Did they give up without a fight because their thoughts a futile battle were correct? Or should they have given their ability to survive a chance and push themselves against the adversity to prove that humans, by nature, are survivors?
What do you think? Did you have a different take on the show or did you have a similar line of thinking?