The Moth Chase

Elevating the Art of Procrastanalysis – Academics wasting time on pop culture

Whatever it is, we’re all carrying it.

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To all….Well, it seems that each season ends in flames–the blast from the CDC in season one, and, now, the flaming farm at the end of this season. And the secret that Jenner whispered to Rick is out…”Whatever it is, we’re all carrying it.” We’ve been speculating for a couple of weeks about the unbitten zombie transformations, and now we know that no one can escape the zombie transformation. Of course, Rick’s revelation sets off anger amongst the group about why he withheld the news from them. Their trust in Rick as the leader is quickly dispelled just as Rick declares the “end of democracy.” Just that statement made me wish that Shane had beat Rick to the draw. (Obviously, Lori was feeling a bit of the same.)

I saw this week’s best moments as anticipatory of the next season…..the prison complex just miles from the now captive group (ah, the prison-industrial-complex in the post-apocalyptic world), and the armless zombies leashed by Andrea’s savior, the grim reaper (yes, my ‘real’ Walking Dead friends know her/his name, but I’ll claim my unfamiliarity with the graphic novel at this point). All of this was set-up for a new location and a new configuration of the group.

When the episode opened with the cityscape, I must admit that I was thrilled to be off the farm. Of course, this brief glimpse was only there to show the genesis of the zombie herd…..nonetheless, I was ready to see the vehicles moving again and felt strangely relieved by being back on the highway. The windshield message to Sophie caused me to flashback through the season’s passage–into the woods, to the church, and then to the farm. The helicopters, cars, and Daryl’s bad-ass motorcycle were signs that the show was picking up speed. While The Walking Dead has failed for me as a character drama; it still retains interest for me as a zombie-action-adventure. This made me wonder whether I’ve been watching this with eyes on the wrong genre and whether the entire second season on the farm served to confuse spectators like me about the kind of show this is…..can this graphic novel adaptation really be expected to explore the deep questions that we wanted it to probe? The dialogue in this episode was flatter than ever with cardboard accompanying emotions. But this critique may be a sign that I’m, again, confused about the genre. So, it this show blog-worthy? We’ve pressed this in our most disappointed moments, but I was brought back to this question in the midst of the barn-burning scene…..buildings burning, wheels spinning, guns blazing, zombies rushing for living bodies….can we accept that what we see may be what we get?

— Shelly

Hello Shelly, and everyone,

Ha–good question! I found this episode excruciatingly bad…except for a few moments (the chief of which were the two you mention, Shelly). And they’re both essentially moments pointing to next season. As a season finale, this was surely pitiful–nonsensical mess of action and dialogue strewn together much like the bodies strewn throughout the episode. I can’t say I’m going to give up entirely–the group dynamics may prove to be still interesting, especially with Rick’s transformation. Was the group ever a democracy? And, do y’all think that Rick is being honest (or self-delusional) when he claims that he killed Shane “for” the group? Is that true? And if so, what does that *mean* exactly? What does that suggest as the reason? Is it a utilitarian sort of calculus where actions are performed that benefit the most members of the group, or is it suggesting something else? To me, these sorts of questions are still live and interesting, and for these sorts of (moral) psychological questions, the show remains a worthy blog topic. What sort of continually nags at me is that there are (still) too many characters and so asking these sort of questions becomes frustrating when we just don’t have enough material to work with. How do you all read Rick’s actions? And how would you best explain the actions of the members of the group when they invoke something like “the group” as an explanation? What is the reasoning that’s allegedly proposed there?




Here we are, at another end at the end of the world. To answer the lingering question, is this show blog worthy, nay, is it even worth watching next season, I will say yes to both. But sort of like I know I am compelled to at least start watching the next season of Dexter even though this last season nearly did me in. The finale of both shows left me just curious enough about what lies ahead to tune in, and probably to log in to discuss (or maybe just bitch and moan) about what I see. But I think both of you are on to something, Martin and Shelly, about the dynamics of the group and the graphic novel nature of the source material. For me, the two go hand in hand. The group breaking up and breaking down and the realization that strongly, not subtly, drawn characters are what we need to navigate an apocalyptic landscape.  To the first point: of course you are right, Martin, that the group has never really been a democracy. Yet most of what we’ve hated about this season is the way they hem and haw and debate and discuss and vote. Rick’s own incapacity as a leader has only opened space for the idea that they are still a reasonable group of people reasoning together to their new life. The roaming walkers (OK, NOT the unexpected resurrection of all the dead, but simply a kind of migration pattern brought on by a helicopter from season 1?), the sudden and terrifying deaths, Rick killing Shane, the destruction of the farm – namely, everything that finds them splintered and broken and on the road again – forces them to (finally!) acknowledge that they are not a group so much as a herd of weaker people seeking protection from stronger people who get to call the shots. Which is what makes Rick’s confession that he killed Shane “for the group” so shallow, but also impossible to argue against, because as we saw, no one wants to go it alone. Watching Rick transform into the strong decisive no holds barred kind of leader the apocalypse seems to demand was not so different as watching the grim reaper character rescue Andrea. That was for me, Shelly, the moment I really remembered we were in the realm of fantasy/sci-fi/graphic novel invention: we do not have to obey the laws of psychological realism! Come on, give me a crazy slave-driving grim reaper! In fact, I’d kind of prefer it if more characters went down that path because at least that makes a kind of crazy sense in the apocalypse. Which is to say, I am all for weird and far-out and pushing the limits of the genre. Let’s hope all our wannabe realistic characters died in that blaze, and out of the ashes we’ll see just some straight up characters. They can call themselves a group if they want to.


Written by oreg1116

March 19, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Posted in The Walking Dead

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