The weak shall inherit the earth
I am so hesitant to say this, but I liked this week’s episode. Or at least, I found more promise in where the show might be going, despite (because of?) the reprieve from the prison/Woodbury showdown. The moment the “previously on” started, I pumped my fist in the air: we are going back, in some small way, to those explosive first episodes and to the genuine shock and potential the series represented when Rick was stumbling around this new world with no other guides than Morgan and Duane and substantially less heroic angst to weigh down his stunningly heroic actions!
Aside from the obvious ways in which Morgan was just a cipher for Rick’s madness – “I have to believe you can come back from this” meaning “I have to believe *I* can come back from this” – it was also fascinating to see how another person is “surviving” the apocalypse. For a show about the zombified end of the world, we’ve actually seen very few options for survival. Our gang (and a few others like them), on the road and on the run; the farm (which was a dead-end in so many ways); Woodbury and its brainwashing militia state; Michonne as a dark avenger before she meets Andrea (and her life pre-Andrea was never really offered to us); and now Morgan. Maybe Morgan is a cipher for everyone’s madness: what in fact really would happen to the human psyche if it stopped and tried to take the measure of the world these people actually inhabit. His rift on the Sermon on the Mount – the meek will inherit the earth – gave us more biblical imagery to reflect on (and thinking more about this, why don’t we see so much more biblical and religious language? It is as if the writers are scared to really use the tropes of the genre and I definitely associate some intense biblical appropriations with apocalyptic fantasy). But it also gave us a new way to read Rick and the Governor (and maybe all the male figures who’ve been offered as leaders so far?): they are the “strong” (good – Rick, or bad – Governor) and they will go out in a blaze, one way or another. Whereas the real curse of this new world is survival, watching the world and all you love decay, quite literally. So all that is left to Morgan in his weakness, as he feels it, is clearing the land, somehow caring for these lost souls (he loads them up on a medical gurney and transports them to a kind of cemetery). I’ve thought this before, but watching Morgan’s seemingly purposeless work really drove home to me how little we understand the motivations of our survivors: aside from the instinctual will to live, what do they imagine they are building in that prison, or even in that small town? Another civilization? A respite from the inevitable?
A couple more points on gender and race, which got (mildly) more interesting this week:
1) Michonne comes to life and is integrated into the group! And am I forgetting other encounters, or does Rick treat her more like an equal than he has any of the other women? Is she (as a black woman) going to be offered as our first possible non-white-male leader?! What does it mean that she is almost completely de-sexualized? And did anyone else catch the comment about her boyfriend? Does this mean she is being presented as squarely heterosexual so that we can accept her as a leader, or ultimately to paint her into the same “defined by her relationship to men” corner as the other women, or at least to stop prurient wondering about her and Andrea?
2) Did anyone else catch racial implications when Morgan kept going on about how of course Rick hasn’t had it as bad as he has (he didn’t have to watch his wife eat his living son, after all)? I don’t think they were intended, but they struck a nerve: after all, there is no way Rick as the white male lead is going to suffer as badly as the women and people of color who are the throw-away extras, barely known enough to mourn when they serve as fodder to keep the plot moving (um, T-Dog, Oscar, Amy, etc.).
Can’t wait to hear what you thought. Am I making it up? Clutching at straws? Or were any of you more taken with this episode?