Going 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 this 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 Shiva! 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 left 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…