Having been sick for over a week, I did what all distraction obsessed Americans do. I binged on Netflix. I hadn’t seen it beforehand but am now on season 4 of “The Walking Dead. ”
If you have better things to do or live under a rock, here is the two-cent synopsis. There is a worldwide plague. When anyone dies, they wake up with one desire, to eat people. Since everyone is surprised that the dead walk and are hungry for the living and their guts, many humans die right off the bat. And the hits keep coming.
The visuals from this show are super gross, or really good if you are a fan of the ick factor. The writing is awesome. The characters are well-drawn. The show has sub-themes on grief, survival, injury, self-governing communities, man’s inhumanity to man, love in the trenches, cannibalism, torture, black and white thinking, sacrifice, and something new every episode. Maybe one day I will write a “Walking Dead Commentary.”
Now that I am on the fourth season, there is a particular theme shining through. Growth. Some of the original characters are still hanging on, because they have evolved from their experience with the dead and each other. Where at first, they were petrified, now they know their enemy. They know their opponents weaknesses and strengths. They know their personal weaknesses and strengths. They know when to retreat and when to stand and fight. They, out of trial and error, know what they will stand for and what they won’t, in dealing with this plague. They know their need for common goals, and working in teams. They are cognizant that as they value each other, they are more protected themselves.
Damn. Metaphors of the dangers of not being self and others aware play out on the screen every episode. Of course, in their case, being unaware gets your guts ripped out. Another metaphor? Maybe. I don’t really know if the writers intended anything like this but it brings up a host of questions to ask ourselves. Do I know my weaknesses? Do I know my strengths? Do I value the strength of others? Am I willing to stand in the gap when I suffer from the weaknesses of others? Am I willing to grow in my thinking about life as more experiences teach me new things? Can I change perspective when reality doesn’t add up to my desired way of viewing life? Can I change the way I live when my ways don’t serve me anymore? Do I know when to fight and when to flee, relationally? Do I know what treatment I will stand for and what I won’t? What kind of person will I be towards my fellow man, as a general rule? Do I know I need others, and will I ask for and receive help when it comes my way?
The dead are a bunch of dummies. It’s almost comical how they managed to wipe out so many people along with all the infrastructures. On one hand, if they get close enough to bite, you are history. On the other, they are so viral led, they will walk right into a spear and eviscerate themselves over and over again. They have no awareness of their surroundings. The good guys can cut their arms off and knock their teeth out, rendering them harmless, and they won’t see it coming. Part of the disease is that they only die if they get their brain smashed. Sometimes their bodies are half missing, part disintegrated, and they will still be moaning and reaching out wanting human flesh. It is totally gross, but oh so telling.
The show has reminded me of a quote from another old favorite of mine, the movie Braveheart. The warrior tells the coward, “Every man dies, not every man truly lives.” Maybe he meant, heartbeat or no, we will be the walking dead if we don’t choose to be aware of the value of living, the value of other people’s lives, and the value of communion with each other.
This show is not for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach. But I can see why it has so many fans. I’m still catching up so if you want to talk about it, can we stay only up to season four?
(Cover art by Jill Freebird Jacobs, www.freebirdcorp.com)