November 3, 2013 § Leave a comment
AMC’s The Walking Dead series evolves every season. Season one introduced the new world of the Walkers as the audience followed Rick’s awaking from the sleep of a coma into a living nightmare. Season one is base, pure, survival: learning how to cope with the undead.
Season two is what I have dubbed in previous articles as “the politics of the Apocalypse.” The group forms internal factions, reacts and is reacted to by Herschel’s family unit, eventually melding into a cohesive group after events forced a reckoning to “join or die.” This was all at the cost of Dale, the voice of reason’s death, as well as fights to the death between Rick and Shane for the leadership of the group, and its code of ethics, with father-ship of Laurie’s baby as a “prize.”
Season three I would classify as the war of the paranoid doppelgangers. Rick as a leader is mirrored by the Governor, both of which are struggling with loss that leads to questionable actions by both, with Rick being less murderous. Of special note is the redemption of Merle, who finds the “light,” aka human decency, as his brother had, via Merle’s own mirror in Micchone
Season four, a few episodes in, The Walking Dead’s world is what I’d dub “post-Walker” in that a semblance of normalcy is trying to take root. The prison has become a home for the Woodbury survivors along with many who have been brought in to the fold by Darryl. This is stark contrast to the previous season where Rick’s group had left a lone survivor to die on the road, only to take his bloodied belongings on the return trip..
The viewers are given a tableaux of this world in the first episode. The prison is a burgeoning civil community, with pluralistic rule, schooling of children (in a post-walker manner, thanks to Carol), everyone with a purpose, and a civil atmosphere that even has helped roll back some of the sociopathic pall that was engulfing Carl. Now in full blossom since his redemption of Merle, Darryl has become the new adulated hero, though not without Carol reminding him, “I liked you first,” despite Darryl and Merle’s obvious status as outlaws and racists, in the pre-walker world (Nazi SS icons on their motorcycles, for example), and their previous sin of plotting to rob the core group during the events of season one, as well.
Rick has relinquished his leadership duties to a council, along with carrying his signature .44 Magnum, which as one of the most powerful handguns displayed in the series, is a symbol of power and leadership. Rick has turned to the civil role of provider, tending garden, livestock, and collecting game from traps.
The story so far introduces post-walker problems. Like the real Dark Ages, the post-walker world does not benefit from modern amenities chief of which are modern medicine. The council informs Rick he must re-arm, in essence take larger responsibility again, and is immediately tested by having to sacrifice his pigs, symbols of his domestic civility, for security.
Next Rick, is called upon to utilize his police skills from the pre-walker world to investigate the murders of the flu victims. He succeeds, but is now faced with the consequences of how law and justice now should work in a post-Walker world.
With just a few episodes into the new season, The Walking Dead’s evolution continues to hold the interest of this viewer and I look forward to the next episode. The exploration of this world promises to be a tense reflection into how tough life is without the systems we take for granted everyday.