The follow contains MAJOR SPOILERS.
Amanda examines the groups leadership and how Daryl's choice to not share too much of the info he beat out of Randall could have been a test. She also parallel's The Walking Dead to our last great ensemble genre-based tv show, LOST.
Daryl is without a doubt the most appealing character to me right now. He is complex. He is torn inside and struggling with the broken group dynamics. I forgive his foray into Sayid-ville, I mean, look at the valuable information he got out of his hostage AND DIDN’T SHARE. I think his choice to keep the incident of the rapes (a testimony to the kind of people this other group is made up of) to himself is actually an act that could serve him in surveying the strength of leadership in the group. Will Rick kill this stranger from a group of ruthless men based on protectionist principles, or will he drag it out for as long as possible and end up kicking himself in the ass when Randall turns on them/escapes and tattles/rapes thus representing he is not an effective leader and his decisions continuously result in unnecessary danger for the group? It is an interesting experiment, and I think that if he plays his cards right and lobbies to the influence-heavy members of the group, Daryl could win the ‘Not as Dumb as Rick’ Party nomination.
To continue on with this whole leadership roast, when the hell was it democratically determined that Rick would reign for an indeterminate amount of time, and with enough commercial endorsement plus the ability to sweep the voters with moving rhetoric nab re-election like a walker in the mud? I think their ‘system’ is highly suspect. At least in LOST, while Jack possessed the magic leadership genes that seem to manifest in characters in survival situations, there was also John Locke – who, while radical in his own right, made some logical sense every once in a while, and created a kind of balance to Jack’s hot-headed sometimes narrow view. Now Shane is obviously the radical in the group, but his harsh sense of reality and tainted ethics boggle my mind when he freaks out over things like Carl witnessing the tied up prisoner, just being...tied up. Uh, really? You’re concerned about that, but the mass execution at the barn was of no consequence when displayed publicly, consequently sending another youth (that weak girl) into shock? He’s practically on par with Rick when it comes to character inconsistencies. These leaders are a joke, there is no balance, but who will usurp the throne? Who wants to bear the weight of the bad decision making crown?
Rick. Oh. Rick. Why, oh, why didn’t you just leave that skewered man to die? You know the one who was just shooting at you and almost shot Glenn? The one from the group of men that you just murdered without a fucking blink of your eye because you sensed they were bad. Just…Why? If it is your job to keep these people safe, WHY? And for this I want to shake a writer. I mean, at this point any writer will do, not even necessarily one from the show. I want to shake a writer and demand to know how such a promising show took a nose dive into awfulness all hinging on one character’s ridiculous and inconsistent decision making. Immoral to leave him there? HE JUST TRIED TO KILL YOU! Ugh. Yuck. Bleh. It’s lodged in my throat because I can’t swallow it. It was such an obvious plot move in order to create conflict within the group and talk more about morality and the loss of civilization. AGAIN. These writers need to get these characters moving again, get them off of that farm. Use them all. They are all there (poor T-Dog) and possess the potential to carry a story line. I'm so tired of this circle Rick and Shane keep running with Lori and Carl popping in long enough to prove their potential for idiocy. They are stagnant there, and so is the show.
I’ll keep watching because I am hooked. Despite the fact that whenever Lori opens her mouth I cringe a little. Like, I have to seriously resist the urge to shout something derogatory at the television. She is just so unbearably dumb and self righteous, and that makes for a terrible First Lady.
Ann examines a character who took a big step into the spotlight in Episode 211, Carl Grimes. It seems as though Carl's child sense of wonder is responsible for two of the season's biggest plot shifts. The results of Carl's actions may not be directly pulled from the pages of the Walking Dead comics, but she believes that TV Carl is headed down the same road.
Let’s get one thing straight – civilization isn’t dead. Not in The Walking Dead, not after Episode 211 –“Judge, Jury, Executioner.”Civilization is disemboweled, left bubbling and mumbling as everyone watches it die before their eyes. Ironically, no one had time for this when they were running from the zombies. To all face it together,and for Daryl to pull the trigger – we can understand why the question of whether this brings them together or tears them farther apart seems to be explored in the next episode.
The metaphor shouldn’t be lost on anyone. In a world where nothing matters, everything matters. Things get blown emotionally out of proportion. No doubt Carl will blame himself for baiting the zombie and bringing him to the farm. He’ll blame himself for Dale’s death, which isn’t fair. And what a punch to the gut that the civil rights lawyer can’t even care enough to truly fight for Randall’s life.
Perhaps Dale should blame himself – don’t we wonder what he was doing out there anyway?
At first, I thought the guy was going to off himself. Heck, no one listens to him. No one loves him. The group is broken. I really thought his stumbling through the cornfield was going to result in his ironic suicide, after saving others from it, and trying to save an outsider from torture and execution. All amid the irony of Herschel’s daughter trying to off herself but not getting far enough – and Herschel being completely absent from that entire episode even though he’s the healer of the group!
But let’s get back to the subject of Carl, who fascinates me. I know he gets a lot of shit for doing stupid stuff. But let’s genuinely put this into perspective. Carl is young. He is seriously just now getting his own head, learning that he has influence, pushing his own boundaries, like all children do. Granted, it’s not a great environment to be doing such, but if we’re going to get psychological all up in here, let’s remember that all children go through different psychological stages that all actuate creating a human,whole person with morals, a sense of right and wrong, and a true identity and personality.
Let’s think about this - Carl approaching the zombie in the marsh was part and parcel of the same curiosity that Rick and Shane saw when he approached the deer before he was shot. In the non-Walker world, Carl would be doing the same thing in the marsh, playing with frogs, setting stuff on fire, killing squirrels. The kid has an integral sense of curiosity that needs to be appeased from within, regardless of what is going on outside. This human development stage cannot be skipped.
Also, let’s remember that Carl is not developed. Through the course of almost two seasons, we have been able to understand the drive of every character – because their adults. They have established reactions dependent on the situation, they have personalities that as characters we can usually predict what they are going to do and how they (un)fit into the group.
We know nothing about Carl or his ability to make decisions because he’s not built yet – through no fault of his own. That’s why we get so angry with him. We want him to be more conscious of his decisions. We want him to be a good kid. But remember, he’s the only kid. And his brain is still forming, his understanding of the world is still developing. He’s just learning how his reactions affect others.
When he tells his father to do it – “do it dad” – and Rick puts the gun down and releases Randall – that’s the moment we realize that Carl is starting to be affected – nature is taking over nuture. And there’s nothing his parents can do about that – regardless of how their own decision-making skills affect others.
(Odds are, Carl is going to be an asshole. He believes he is royalty in the group. His parents call the shots so why shouldn’t he. And Shane, who used to be a positive influence for him, is so blinded by his love for Lori and his vengeance against his sad lot, that he’s an ass to Carl. And Carl lost Sofia, his best friend. I mean, what do you expect?)
And for any of those who have read The Walking Dead graphic novels – you can see where they are going with Carl anyway. The circumstances are way different – but it all seems to be leading the same place.
Both Ann and Amanda provide excellent observations. Now it's your turn. Put you thoughts in the comments below. Do you guys agree or disagree with any of the opinions/observations the three of us NSD writers have brought forth? What's your theory? Who dies next? Will the gang get off the farm by season's end? Will T-Dog do anything besides burn Walker bodies?? How will it all end??
Ann has an interesting theory on one of the revelations we could see before we say goodbye to season two.
My guess for the end of the season – because everyone needs one – I think that Daryl’s brother Merle is one of the leaders of the other pack of men.
Anyone else with me?Wow. Well, anyone else with Ann?
Until next week...
-D, Amanda, and Ann