The Walking Dead Season 7

twdseason7Going into the third episode of The Walking Dead Season 7, most fans of the show are aware of the deaths of some fairly significant characters. I won’t go into any specific details just in case you haven’t seen the first couple of episodes, however, I felt that it was appropriate to comment on a couple of things.

First of all, the zombie post apocalypse is certainly a violent and unpredictable place. It would be completely unreasonable if the main characters remained unscathed. We were already hearing voices (no not the voices in my head – fortunately, I don’t hear those yet…) complaining about how there weren’t any significant character killings in most of the 6th season. Inevitably, those voices would have gained strength among fans claiming that the story was unrealistic (insofar as anything could be unrealistic in the zombie apocalypse). Naturally, fans expect that people will be killed, but only those characters that they don’t like or get to know very well. Anyway, in keeping with the comics (which I haven’t read intentionally), our core group of survivors has dwindled down further, much to the dismay of many.

Over the years, we have watched as our remaining core group of The Walking Dead characters became less isolated. As they meet new groups of survivors, we are starting to see that there is indeed a type of functioning semi-civil-system in place, at least in that part of Virginia, and perhaps all over the world. It seems as though what remains of civilization has reverted to a form of feudalism. The strongest and most ruthless rule the day while the weaker serve them. In neganthis case, we find that Negan, ruler of “The Saviors” is the “big boss”, enforcing his power through his liberal use of brutality and his special friend “Lucille”. I have previously discussed to the likelihood of a tendency for sociopaths to rise to the power in the post apocalypse (link) and I think that would hold true. We have seen “The Governor” in previous seasons, now we see Negan, who certainly would “fit the bill”.

In the second episode, we also meet a whole new community of survivors that call themselves “The Kingdom”. It turns out that “The Kingdom” is quite fascinating and amusing place, to say the least. The leader of “The Kingdom”, “King Ezekiel”, is downright hilarious and has a flair for the dramatic, having been a Shakespearean actor and a zoo keeper pre-apocalypse. Oh, and did I mention that he has pet tiger named shivaezekielShiva! That’s right, A PET TIGER that actually comes along with a fairly detailed background story as well (maybe we will see more of this story in future episode flashbacks). How awesome is that!

Then we have the end of our modern fairy tale notion that things always get better. “Better” being a relative term, of course. Unfortunately, in the real world, and certainly in any imaginable post apocalyptic scenario, “things” get worse too. You might think “how much worse can it get for Rick’s family”. Well it turns out, it can get much, much worse, as we have witnessed in these episodes.

Being such a fan of apocalyptic fiction, I find that I’m “pinching myself” (metaphorically, most of the time) while I watch The Walking Dead. Is this show really on Prime Time TV on a Sunday night? Is it really the most popular show on television?

Oh, and did I mention that there is a fucking TIGER! A rather large tiger with huge, menacing teeth and very sharp claws! I can’t wait to see Shiva tear into some zombies or living people for that matter (as long as they’re bad guys 😉 ). Will she take their heads off with her claws or bite and crush their skulls? I think Shiva tearing off Negan’s head would be appropriate, then they can shove that barbed wire bat “Lucille” down what’s lucilleleft of his throat!

Innovation in fiction. Ultimately, it’s the unique “tiger” ideas that I love. These great “where did that come from?” ideas are what keep me reading and watching. The post-apocalyptic environment is well suited for those “what the fuck! (WTF)” moments (who they hell thought of that?). After all, the apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic genre is a bifurcation of science fiction, the exploration of “what ifs”. I think people appreciate the way that the writers (Robert Kirkman, et al) of The Walking Dead have re-imagined and reinterpreted the zombie apocalypse. They are exploring it in a new way. It is different from George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead that has been regurgitated countless times. People can sense when an idea or concept is worn out and they get tired of it. Fortunately, just when you think it has all been done before, someone comes up with something new and flips everything on its head. Who knows what type of calamity someone will come up with next? Whatever it is, I’m looking forward to it. That is, of course, if we have time left for those types of things…

Addiction and the Apocalypse

nickbloodAfter watching the first season of Fear the Walking Dead (FTWD) again, it occurred to me that we rarely see any type of substantial fictional exploration of addiction and the apocalypse. As you may or may not know, depending on whether you watch the show, one of the main characters is a heroin addict. He is one of the first characters that we meet on the show and is also one of the first to encounter zombies if indeed the outbreak started in California.

Regardless of how you might feel about FTWD, the writers deserve some credit for making a legitimate effort to humanize addiction through Nick. Whether or not you agree with his reaction/behavior, it is an interesting fictional story line worthy of further exploration. Nick’s character offers some insight into the implications of addiction during and after the apocalypse.

The most fascinating idea that comes up through Nick’s character is that his life before and after the zombie apocalypse isn’t that much different. Death was always his constant companion. He was already living moment to moment, never seeing beyond his next fix.

An addict’s life isn’t that much different from the life of a post apocalyptic survivor. Instead of finding more drugs, almost all of a survivor’s energy is spent obtaining the necessary food and supplies and protecting those resources. Death is never far away in either case. Indeed, it is a constant companion.

Now, consider the life of an average, modern day person. Most people have become so dependent on modern conveniences that a drastic change in lifestyle would be a major shock to say the least. Many people simply wouldn’t be able to let go of their former life and do what is necessary to survive. It is in this light that we can begin to understand Nick’s relative ease in adjusting to his new environment. Compared to everyone else, his new life isn’t much different from his old life.

This is not to say that I necessarily agree with FTWD’s particular interpretation of the way a typical addict might respond to the zombie apocalypse, however, I applaud their valid attempt to address the issue. Actually, FTWD is the first major end of the world type fiction that I have encountered that tries to examine the topic of addiction on more than a superficial level. Many might argue that a drug addict would be less concerned with the well being of their family and more concerned with raiding homes, pharmacies or hospitals for leftover opoids. This is usually how the issue is dealt with in apocalyptic fiction – “those degenerate addicts need to be contained” type of attitude prevails, in most cases, always implying that “these people” are the first stage of the human transformation into raiding cannibal clans.

As with most issues, its not quite as simple as “forget about those degenerates”, especially when someone that you love is an addict or alcoholic. Ultimately, I think most people would be surprised to find out that addiction is running rampant right in their cozy little neighborhoods.

Having been sober and drug free now for 16 years, I can attest to the notion that some portion of alcoholics and addicts can recover and that they might be people that you would want around should things go bad.

If anyone knows of any other works of fiction that explores addiction and the apocalypse please forward it to me.

On a side note, I have been really pleased with the response to our first few guest posts and I really appreciate everyone that has given positive feedback. I’m still looking for people to write guest posts and would like to make it a regular occurrence on this site. If you are a writer, please send me a note at apocalypticfiction@gmail.com or use the contact form below to express your interest in doing a guest post. For a guest post, rather than discussing your book or fictional work directly, I would prefer if you could discuss some of your inspiration for creating it and possibly share some life experience that has influenced you and drawn you towards the apocalyptic genre. I look forward to hearing from and meeting as many of you as possible!

 

 

Fear the Walking Dead

Some Walking Dead fans have been slow to warm up to the spin off Fear the Walking Dead that is now approaching the end of its second season. After all, how many countless hours have we logged following Rick and his crew of survivors. I must admit though, approaching the end of Season 2, the show has grown on me.fearthewalkingdead

Initially, I was drawn to the show to discover the details about how the zombie apocalypse started, supposedly in Los Angeles. That aspect was somewhat disappointing since it basically happened the same way everywhere else (one zombie…two zombies…million zombies). We don’t get much in the way of details, except we see how the military attempted to create “safe zones” then was forced to bomb most of the cities in a last ditch effort to stem the tide of zombies.

Fear the Walking Dead (FTWD) has a sort of dreamlike quality that has kept me watching. Though it is hard to pinpoint, the characters seem to float through the scenery as if they are a part of your own zombie apocalypse nightmare.

Taking place mostly in Mexico, Season 2 has unique cultural and religious aspects that create a certain tone and atmosphere that set it apart from its southern US counterpart and main franchise, The Walking Dead. Actually, we find a completely different perspective in Mexico as we see a more religious/biblical interpretation of the zombies. A type of superstitious attitude prevails where the survivors see the zombies as a way for god to cleanse the Earth.

It takes more time to become engrossed in FTWD compared to the original. I remember how I was hooked after I watched the first episode where Rick wakes up from a coma in the hospital to find the zombie apocalypse. The impact of that first episode in the original series was awesome in a way that I think would be impossible to duplicate.

FTWD may have a ways to go before it could come close to replacing the original, but it certainly is a fun show to watch while we are awaiting the main event.

 

The Walking Dead Season 4 Episode 12 Still

In The Walking Dead Season 4 Episode 12 titled ‘Still’ we are reminded of the terror and hopelessness that is the zombie apocalypse as Daryl and Beth hide in the trunk of a car for days while a herd of zombies passes. Sure, we knew that there were hordes of zombies on the loose but with the prison fences keeping most of them out its easy to forget. You know things are bad when you are safer inside a prison. Anyway, if you’re like me and really enjoy the fictional exploration of a post-apocalyptic world, you’ll love this episode. How about a post-apocalyptic, zombie infested country club with overgrown fairways, ransacked clubhouse and elite members turned zombies hanging from the ceiling! Ha! Entertainment just doesn’t get much better than that. Watch this episode on AMC’s website Here or on Amazon through the link below:

The Walking Dead Season 4 Claimed

We are briefly introduced to two new groups of survivors in The Walking Dead Season 4 Episode 11 titled Claimed. Unfortunately, none of the new characters are among the most civilized or intelligent human beings. With no fence for protection, survivors are never safe from the endless zombie onslaught. Not to mention the threat of encountering other people that are more ruthless and violent. Those that have survived over a year into the zombie apocalypse ought to be hardened killers by now. We get some interesting pieces of information in this episode and some hints as to where our friends in The Walking Dead may be heading. Watch this episode through AMC’s website here or on Amazon through the link below.

The Walking Dead Season 4 Episodes 9 and 10

Forced to abandon the relative safety of their prison home and separated during the chaos and destruction following the Governor’s attack, small, fragmented groups of survivors struggle to find hope and safety in the second half of the 4th season of the post apocalyptic tv series The Walking Dead. A complete and utter destruction of one’s home, the illusion of safety, a careful, delicate construct of the mind created to comfort and shelter us from the harsh reality of our often short, brutal lives. The word apocalypse itself, translated from its Greek origin meaning ‘the disclosure of something hidden’, points to this truth and was only later incorporated into english taking on its current, more religious, end of the world context. Isn’t the apocalypse indeed the destruction of our carefully constructed sense of reality, revealing the often cold, hard reality of our situation that we survive on a small speck of life within the vast, empty void of space.

A profound lesson is encoded into apocalyptic fiction that is easily missed. On a surface level, end of the world fiction highlights the necessity to prepare for disaster by storing food, water and having the ability to protect your family which are certainly worthy goals. Going a little deeper though, the real gem concealed within apocalyptic fiction relates to the transient and fragile nature of life itself. While we aren’t forced to face the illusory nature of safety and ‘home’ on a daily basis like the survivors in The Walking Dead, inevitably, even if it isn’t until our time of death, we must face these illusions. Perhaps if we can incorporate and cultivate an awareness of the fantasy nature of true safety, we will be more liberated and able to live more fully in the moment.

To assist you in your contemplation of reality and your own mortality [ 😉 ], follow the links below to watch the latest episodes of The Walking Dead titled ‘After’ and ‘Inmates’.

These episodes are also available for free through the AMC website through this link: http://www.amctv.com/full-episodes/the-walking-dead but there is some way you need to login using your cable company account that I find both annoying and confusing and they are only available there for a limited period of time.

The Walking Dead Season 4 Dead Weight

Apparently redemption is not in store for The Governor In the seventh episode of The Walking Dead Season 4. These last 2 episodes have been interesting and enjoyable as we take a break from the prison scene and give Rick and the gang some time to wallow in the muck while they clean up after the flu outbreak. Any hope garnered from last week’s show that The Governor has changed is shattered in this episode. Yes, that’s right he is still a homicidal sociopath, willing to do whatever it takes to ensure his own survival and the survival of those people that he deems worthy. Unfortunately, time and time again, in a variety of apocalyptic movies and books, we see how a sociopath could be well suited for surviving the apocalypse. Survival, by any means necessary, unburdened by any morally questionable choices. Following such a person might seem like a good option to someone scared, hungry and tired. However, plant a seed in your memory, in case such a situation arises for you someday: RUN (just as soon as you get a chance). If running/getting away isn’t an option or your inclination, do the world a favor and STOP them before they hurt anyone else (think rabid animal or zombie for that matter). Such a person cannot be trusted and will eventually lose favor with you. You will most likely end up dead, or worse. Just one more thing to look out for if the world ends – guys like The Governor will rise to the top.