Entertaining Peery: The Walking Dead, “Nebraska” & The Politics of the Apocalypse

February 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

Last night AMC’s The Walking Dead returned with new episodes after its midseason break. “Nebraska” starts up where the show left off with: Rick cleaning up Shane’s messy discovery of what really happened to Sophia and the mystery of the barn.

The episode then continues to explore themes that I dubbed last season as “The Politics of the Apocalypse.”

<spoilers after the break>

By this I mean the state of the world has adjusted to the Walker threat as a matter of fact. The initial shock and horror of the uncanny has now worn off. In its place, new dynamics are being experienced by what is left of human society. These dynamics can take place anywhere there is an absence of civil order achieved via war or any other disaster; zombies need not be the cause. We have seen their effects in places like Somalia and even closer to home in New Orleans post-Katrina.

In the beginning of this season the struggle between Rick and Shane is largely about these new dynamics. Do they as a new society try and preserve the civil mores that existed prior to the apocalypse that Rick and Dale have being attempting to uphold or do you practice utter pragmatism that is evident by Shane and Lori’s actions?

“Nebraska” begins to explore another facet of “the politics of the apocalypse” where the enemy are now other humans rather than just the Walkers. The encounter in the bar, where Rick has been attempting to “do the right thing” and bring Hershel back around, is highlighted by an encounter where Rick meets scouts from a group that seems to have embraced the pragmatism that Shane is pushing for.

The humans have now divided into tribes that will clash in competition. The encounter in the bar showcases the new priority: resources for the tribe. Rick is unwilling to divulge any information about the group’s strengths, location, numbers, or make-up. This includes gender of the group members as one of the scouts intimates that sex is now a rare commodity as well.

This clash ends badly for the scouts and Rick has now drawn blood to save his group as much as to save the morals of civil society. However, will it ultimately doom his tribe? We’ll find out next week!

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