The Walking Dead: Season Three and Wild Speculation

Some random thoughts on The Walking Dead, as far as season 3, episode 5 (and with no knowledge of the comic)

How will this show end?

I can see only two acceptable endings:

  1. The survivors somehow find absolute safety (from zombies, at least)
  2. The survivors all die

Any middle ground would feel like cheating the audience. I don’t understand storytelling models, but the zombie outbreak is one, ever-shuffling obstacle. The survivors, our heroes, have to find a way to overcome that obstacle, or be consumed by it. Nothing else.

This isn’t The Sopranos or The Wire, where we’re happy that their world keeps turning even after our time with it has ended. With Walking Dead we’ll need closure, one way or the other.

“Absolute safety”, though? What would that even look like? The prison will never be fully secure. And if a prison can’t be safe, where can? An island? Which has been scoured for zombies, where food can be grown?

Of course, the virus problem remains. Even if they find a zombie-free place to call home, every person is still bound to become a walker once they die. They could all be perfectly safe, until someone dies unexpectedly and turns, and now there’s a zombie in the henhouse.

So, now I’ve got three endings:

  1. An antidote is found to stop future zombiefication. The survivors find somewhere safe to live that’s completely and definitely free of zombies
  2. An antidote is found. The survivors don’t find anywhere safe to live, but for some reason the zombies start to die off until only survivors are left
  3. Everybody is eaten to death

As far as the second option, if I was a survivor, I’d have a tough time accepting that all the zombies were dead (or whatever you call it). It’s hard to prove a negative. How many dead zombies would you have to see before you believed they were all gone?

The death of every survivor seems the most likely option. If this show ran for 10 seasons and everyone I knew was eaten at the end, I’d be happy—as long as it was done well. Very different shows of course, but the reason Blackadder Goes Forth is so well remembered is because of the bleakness of its ending. That final scene was admittedly in bold contrast to the rest of the show’s comic tone, but even in the depressing world of Walking Dead, everyone we’ve cared about for years being killed would be a hell of a way to go out.

The most remarkable thing about later seasons of the show would be if Carl turns out to be a decent human being. That boy’s seen some shit. He’s growing up in a post-apocalyptic world full of zombies, he thought his dad was dead, he gunned down his pseudo-dad after he turned into a zombie, he was partially responsible for Dale’s death, he watched as his mother was sliced open during childbirth and then died, and then he had to shoot her so she didn’t become a zombie. And his hat doesn’t fit properly.

No one in Walking Dead says “zombie”, but also never heard is “Hey, crossbows are awesome”. Daryl’s weapon is silent, so it doesn’t attract other zombies. It’s ammo is recyclable. The ammo itself can be used as a weapon. Surely someone would’ve watched Daryl stick an arrow into a zombie’s eye-socket and thought “I needs this”? Try throwing a bullet at a zombie to kill it. If I was Rick, I’d be looking for a hunting store, or failing that a library that has ‘Bow and Arrow Making for Dummies’.

The group’s proficiency in killing walkers has increased. Which is nice. They might not have reached their Gladwell Number of 10,00 hours in the art of stabby-smashy-zombie-fun but they’re improving. Which both makes action scenes fun to watch, and reminds that months have passed since season two’s finale. This has, however, made the walkers less scary. Rick’s taken a bundle of them down on his own. Michonne’s two looked like pets. Over in Woodbury they’re being used for entertainment. The stakes have been raised; we’ll need bundles of zombies now to feel fear, a half-dozen is an everyday occurrence.

As I watched that zombie paw impotently at the barrier into Woodbury—one with a machine gun mounted on it—I wondered how a zombie got in a month ago, and how these residents will ever be threatened. Keep your walls high and well-guarded and dispose of your dead quickly, you should really be safe. The only people at risk should be those who venture out for supplies. The zombie revolution is here, but buildings, castles and palaces weren’t taken down by swiping, grabbing hands, but by weapons and wit and ingenuity. I’m atop a castle, and dozens of people are slapping the walls? I’m good. Yet I expect Woodbury to fall, and soon.

The prison is a preferable location than the farm. There’s more tension there, with all its twists and turns and zombies visible outside the fence. But still the show gives little sense of the prison’s layout. I know there’s a safe bit, and a zombie bit. How the two relate, even after Rick’s rampage, I’m not sure.

Rick & Co are nomadic by the show’s nature, so I don’t expect them to stay at the prison for long. Though if they do have to flee after a zombie attack, couldn’t they organise and return to reclaim the place? Especially now that they’re so handy with the weaponry.

Over the remainder of this season I expect the group to reunite with Andrea (via Michonne, somehow). Whether that will come at Woodbury, I don’t know. After the longgg wait for Merle’s return, he’ll have to meet Daryl again soon enough, and Daryl will have to choose to either leave with his brother, or stay with the group that kinda sacrificed him.

As soon as Merle vanished I expected him to return as the head of some shady gang. He’s high up in the Woodbury unit, but not top dog. I can’t see him lasting as anyone’s second-fiddle for long. Whether by choice or circumstance, I think he’ll become a leader of some group or other (but certainly not Rick’s).

Everyone is in flux in this show, which probably makes running separate storylines difficult. Walking Dead might give time to other characters away from the thrust of the main narrative, but there’s rarely a B Storyline. Maybe that’s  the reason I feel like these loose plot threads will soon entangle.

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