This week on what I would consider my favorite episode this season: an attack on the prison leaves the Clan wounded, Darryl finally stands up to Merle, Woodbury is as vicious as ever and Michonne can’t shoot worth a damn. I’ve got two good things that stood out this week and one not so good, so let’s jump in.
Darryl and Merle:
With the exception of Merle’s habit of calling Darryl “little brother” every time he addresses him, the two made for a great side story. Darryl’s outlook vs Merle’s outlook represent an interesting dynamic that comes from brother/sister style relationships. If the two are a few years apart, there is a variance in their outlook because one leans more towards the currently established generation and the other leans towards the upcoming one. The older brother (or sister, obviously) needs to represent the way things are to set an example for the younger brother. The brother in question might do it to make himself look better, or because he fears the changes his younger brother represents, or if you’re lucky, because your older brother cares about the younger. The younger brother, on the other hand, sees how his older brother has already been influenced and adopts newer ideas and mentalities to take ownership of traits that he can identify with on his own.
Merle was the kind of brother to dominate Darryl; you can see his natural behaviour is to carry that on, calling him “son” or “little brother”. But having the two split up allowed Darryl to see things on his own, without Merle’s influence. As a younger brother, seeing Darryl take a stand and make his older brother accountable for his actions is uplifting. Being a sibling is an extraordinary thing, because any outsider would notice the similarities among you and yours, but as a brother, it’s a lot more common to look at someone who comes from the same place you do and to want to prove you are as different as possible. Life isn’t full of Weasley Brothers.
Poor Axel. I had a feeling he wasn’t going to live much longer. But hats off to another unbelievably tense battle between the Clan and Woodbury. One thing that made this scene work really well was that at this point in the comics, there was a larger cast of characters on both sides. As a comic, it works better because it gives a better impression that these aren’t just hideouts, but communities where people are trying to make a life for themselves. Once Axel got offed, basically every character involved on the prison side is someone important to the Clan because they’re more of a family.
Reading the comics, seeing the battle break out, I couldn’t help but look at the page and think him, him, definitely him, her, aaaand then a death I didn’t expect. The tension doesn’t get you like it does in the show, but the deaths of all those characters hit you harder because seeing people die is harder to take in. A cast that large on the show wouldn’t work because there’s already so little time to invest in anyone – you’d literally be picking off characters in the background that you never even met. A television show has a responsibility to treat every character as important, while acting like it’s indifferent to what actually happens. This means the likelihood of Rick being killed in the eyes of the show is as even as Axel, but obviously we have writers who understand the show’s rules and create stories accordingly.
Put it this way: if people you don’t care about on a show get killed, it diminishes the effect death has. Now, you may not like a character, and you might want certain characters you don’t like to be killed, but whether you realize it or not, the more time the show spends on a character, the more it’s going to affect you when it finally happens.
And believe me, it’ll happen.
Least favorite: Rick and his Ghost Wife:
I don’t like this element of the show. Not right now. I like the idea, because I figure by this point Rick would have a breakdown. He’s been pushed and pulled since he woke up from the coma, and is only burdened more since he decided to turn his group from a democracy to a Ricktatorship (I dont claim ownership of that term). His ghost vision story is bugging me right now because it’s asking me to be patient. If he settles it, and it goes away, it will have been a waste of precious TV time. That time could have been spent on Tyreese and his people, talking about Rick’s decision. If it stays, and becomes a recurring thing like it did in the comics, I’m interested in seeing what they do with it.
Why was Lori dressed in a wedding gown? Her look, in addition to providing a rare contrast to the show’s bleak greens and greys, represents the peace and joy that was taken from Rick. This didn’t start with her death; it started with him the moment he got out of his coma. As much as we romanticize a zombie outbreak as an apocalypse we would want to be a part of, it’s not a fun reality. It’s a nightmare, and every second gets you one step closer to a death that gets harder and harder to fend off. It’s one thing to form an alliance with a bunch of people you don’t know because you can all relate to one another. But imagine ending up with people that you know, people who depend on you. Suddenly they become more than just extra allies in your fight for survival; they become responsibilities. Could you cut and run if you knew them? Could you sacrifice them for your own survival? Would you look out for them more than for yourself? And worst of all, all those memories of the way life used to be pale in comparison to what’s happening right here and now. Would you rather live in this new world, holding on to a beautiful memory of the life you lived with your people, or would you willingly take them with you, putting them through all the turmoil, hardship and danger that’s fast approaching?
The answer is simple: of course you would. But then again, you’re not among The Walking Dead.
See you next week.