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Walking Dead: Internment

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Walking Dead Internment

On Walking Dead this week: medical horror, dueling crises, and Full Metal Carl.

I don’t really understand why, but the scenes of medical procedures and general grossness this week were a lot harder for me to watch than a zillion zombies getting their heads smashed in. I genuinely had to look away during the intubation scenes, especially Glen’s. All that coughing up blood and phlegm and disgusting crap just this me on a whole other level of squick.

Hershel tries to leaven the hopeless situation in the sick ward with humor. “I say we have Spaghetti Tuesday every Wednesday. But first we have to find some spaghetti.” His heroic efforts, staying up for days at a time helping the ill to feel better and hold on until the antibiotics arrive were really the pivot point of the episode. He later compares the need to maintain hope in the face of despair to a Steinbeck quote (“A sad soul can kill quicker than a germ.”), but another novel comes to mind: Albert Camus’ The Plague.

In The Plague, a doctor fights against an epidemic that causes his town to be isolated. He can’t leave the town to see his own family members, including his wife, and so he stays inside the town working to develop a cure and ease the suffering of the sick. The novel is an exploration of the absurd. Some people profit handsomely from the illness, despite the almost inconceivable tragedy that surrounds them, while others turn inward and find meaning in their efforts to help the people around them, even at great personal cost.

What was Hershel thinking about in his cell at the end, crying with a Bible in his hand?
It seemed like he found some meaning and strength to go on in the face of despair in the morning, heading out with Michonne to burn some corpses and even responding, “I am,” when Daryl calls him a tough sumbitch. And maybe that’s the only right answer to an existential crisis, to be a tough sumbitch in the face of it all.

Outside the sick ward, Maggie (and later Rick and Carl) face a contrived crisis at the fence, as a horde of walkers is starting to push it over. There are so many easy ways they could deal with these huge zombie mobs. They could build something a few hundred yards from the prison that they could activate to make a bunch of noise, maybe even using a rope and pulley system to activate it from within the prison. Or much simpler: drive out in a car and make a bunch of noise, draw the mob off, then drive away and circle back to the prison a little while later once they’ve dispersed. The best option would be to build some kind of zombie collection unit on the front of a big truck or bus. Giant blades at head level, a big scoop and blade, like a snowplow, or just a bulldozer. Doze the walkers into a pile and run them over.

But the fence thing needs to be a problem, so it’s a problem. From a storytelling perspective, it’s dumb but sets up some good action cutting back and forth between the unfolding clusterf$#% in the sick ward and Rick and Carl with automatic weapons mowing down zombies. “Say hello to my LITTLE FRIEND! His name is Carl and technically he’s my son, not my friend.” Odd that once they killed all those walkers, the huge holes in the fences were no longer a problem. Walkers just decided that wasn’t going to work out and gave up on coming in that way, I guess. Apparently Rick and Carl demoralized the zombies.

Rick is honest with Maggie and Hershel about Carol, but he still has yet to tell Daryl. That’s going to be an interesting moment.

So everything seems really bleak and desperate. I mean bleaker than usual. Then a minivan arrives at the gate, and Carl, who has no way of knowing the it contains Daryl and the antibiotics (because their original car died and they had to hotwire the minivan), immediately says, “Everything’s going to be fine.” Then he opens the gate to allow a van full of what he can only assume are total strangers into the prison.

The magic antibiotics work and everyone who’s sick and hasn’t already died is saved. In practical terms, this works out to pretty much just the original survivors and a few other named characters. Almost everyone else died (told you I wasn’t going to bother learning their names). So if you’re a main cast member, you either toughed out the illness or were miraculously immune to it to begin with. It would have been a lot more interesting if Glen had died.

Oh, right, then they ruined everything with that last shot of the Governor leering at the prison. The only way this would be good is if next week’s episode just starts with Michonne walking up to him and beheading him with her sword and muttering, “What an asshole.” And then we can move on to something else. Anything else.

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Posted by on Monday, November 11th, 2013. Filed under Dark TV, Headline. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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