The premiere had everything I was hoping to see as far as the progression of their small society is concerned. Hershel’s passing along his skills so that they can live on without him, which is something I was hoping to see a couple of seasons ago. He’s getting quite old and if a walker doesn’t take him out, age surely will. They also have healthy crops, thriving livestock, and a system in place for protecting the border of their home. Things are getting comfortable at the prison. But this show is not about ‘comfort,’ and the premiere was a brutal reminder of that.
Honestly, trusting humans seems to be more dangerous than the whole zombie problem these days. Sure, the walkers are vicious and strong and want to eat you, but at least you know they are out to kill you. People, on the other hand, may seem good at first and then betray you later. Rick is aware of this, but he’s still generally a nice guy and gave the woman the benefit of the doubt. The way he handled the new woman proves that his group has learned valuable lessons from their previous interactions with new people. They pat them down, keep their distance, and then ask them three very important questions:
1) How many walkers have you killed?
2) How many people have you killed?
The answers to these questions determine whether or not they get invited back into the group or left to fend for themselves. In the Talking Dead special afterwards Andrew Lincoln revealed that the second question is not a black and white question for them. The third one is more important and the way that the questions are answered is a large determining factor. Rick’s group has had to kill people before so they know that sometimes it’s a thing that needs to be done. The ‘why?’ is more important than the number.
Before Rick even gets to this stage in the initiation, though, the woman shows her hand and essentially blacklists herself from their group. He was prepared for her betrayal, though, and ended up deflecting an attack from her (albeit, only barely). Then she kills herself. So yeah, she definitely won’t be a recurring character. I wasn’t exactly expecting her to be, though. She just felt off from the moment she arrived on screen. And honestly, if someone feels ‘off’ in the midst of a zombie apocalypse that’s a gut instinct that needs to be paid attention to.
Rick’s encounter in the woods isn’t the only insight into how the group has evolved over the course of the past few months. Back at the prison Beth appears to have a boyfriend. As soon as he appeared on screen I had a feeling it wasn’t going to end well. Sure enough, he gets killed on a scavenging mission. Beth’s reaction to his death was far more disturbing than the death itself. She accepts that he’s gone with an eerily calm demeanor. She’s been through this countless time and, as she puts it, doesn’t cry anymore. Death is just a fact of life for her. It certainly is a stark contrast to the nearly comatose Beth from season two. It’s disturbing and uncomfortable, but it’s just how the world is now. People die. You pick up your losses and carry on.
Then we have my personal favorites: Glenn and Maggie. When Maggie goes through a pregnancy scare both she and Glenn are on edge about the results. Eventually it’s revealed that she’s not pregnant, much to their relief, but Maggie reveals that if she were, she thinks they’d be able to deal with it. Glenn is not so gung ho about bringing a baby into the world, though. Maggie says “I don’t want to be afraid of being alive.” Glenn counters with “being afraid is what kept us alive.” With that we can see the two divergent psychological paths the survivors are taking.
Some want to keep living life to the fullest, even if it comes with risks. Others refuse to take any risks, hoping to just keep themselves alive as long as possible. I honestly don’t know which path I’d end up taking. I’d like to think I’d be willing to take risks in order to live a rich life, but part of me feels I’d be too scared to do so. I’d want to cling on to what little life I had for as long as I could. I suppose I won’t truly know unless I find myself in an apocalyptic situation. And honestly I hope that doesn’t happen. Seriously. Apocalypse, can you just wait a couple more centuries? Thank you.
The conclusion to the episode opened up the mystery long season that our band of survivors are going to have to deal with. While their system of keeping walkers out has been extremely effective so far, somehow the virus has gotten inside. A seemingly healthy kid suddenly starts feeling quite ill. In the middle of the night he wanders to the bathroom, turns on the shower, and collapses into a bloody mess on the tile floor. His eyes open and he’s seemingly a walker, though the episode ends before he can right himself and start moaning through the halls in that trademark walker way. Airborne virus? Tainted food or water supply? Completely unrelated disease that killed him resulting in him zombiefying within the walls of the prison? We don’t know yet. It took more than a season for Jenner’s confession to Rick to come out into the open. The fact that we’re all infected was a long held secret, so I wouldn’t expect an answer to this any time soon.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. She identifies as queer.
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