Written by John Edward Betancourt
Over the course of four years on The Walking Dead we have seen one prevailing theme, championed by Rick Grimes, to try to be good. To be in a very Harvey Dent way, decent men in indecent times. We have seen Rick's hope to be that kind of man blow up in his face about a billion times until the season finale last year when well...he tore a dude's throat out.
We knew it was the beginning of something new, the end of Ranger Rick for certain as he was clearly changing before our eyes into someone far more badass and we were all left wondering, what would this do thematically to our beloved show? Well, the answer arrived in the season five premiere and man...I like where this show is heading.
First and foremost, Rick has truly evolved into a man willing to do what it takes. No more debates or questions, he will simply pick up the rifle and shoot you dead if you're not on his side. Threaten him and his family and friends and that's it. It's the end of you. Yet, as I watched "No Sanctuary" something else caught me off guard. To date, this is a show that for the most part has focused on life after the end of the world and has stayed away from any social commentary to the world we live in. It's not a bad thing, it's just that using zombies as an allegory to our world is a common occurrence in the genre, but that all changed for the series premiere.
Last night, I got the impression that this fundamental change to the show and the characters, while healthy and necessary for the awful world they live in, challenged those of us watching. Specifically in the respect of which zeitgeist works for which universe. After all the mantra of being great men at the end of times clearly holds no weight since it has done nothing for Rick and the group, but at the same time perhaps doing what we must to survive in a world that is still functional...is the wrong way of handling things.
Horror is designed to make us uncomfortable. We were definitely uncomfortable that last night. We saw men's throats get slit, we saw Mary be left on the floor to be devoured by walking corpses and we saw Rick hell bent on going back to finish the Termites off, none of this was pretty and by making us uncomfortable we are left to think that maybe this isn't the right way. Now before someone tells me I'm reading too deep into this, it gives me pause in a climate where fear is all over the news over Ebola, where we dislike just about every politician in Washington and the internet has given rise to an environment of "my opinion is the only one so listen to it or go away" mentality that well...we really are doing what we feel we must do to "survive" day in and day out and we are perhaps forgetting about the world around us in the process.
It is in no way a slam on our society, just an observation, it's our job to take what we will from it, and it's simply my observation on this week, feel free to disagree with me. Because that's the beauty of The Walking Dead now. It has graduated beyond simple splatter fare, it's a thinking man's show now and you can find the depth within or enjoy the gore, but one way or another, it's infected you in some way and I'm looking forward to what else it will bring to the table this season...