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In ‘Walking Dead,’ Morality and Mortality Meet

A brief word about “The Walking Dead,” the AMC drama, after watching the latest episodes, including the one airing this Sunday. (Don’t worry, this post will be spoiler-free.)

DeadGUN_lowryOne of the unexpected pleasures of the show in this second season has been the way it has tackled questions of morality, and what the central group will do in the name of survival. At one point, the stalwart leader, Rick (Andrew Lincoln), said, “We don’t kill the living.” But in a lawless world, such a principled stand has become increasingly difficult to maintain.

There’s been some grousing, inevitably, about the show (even in the context of the half-hour talkshow AMC devotes to it, “The Talking Dead”), which is to be expected with anything that burns this brightly and operates under the added burden of being adapted from a graphic novel — a world where fans are seldom shy about voicing their displeasure and reservations.

Even so — and especially with the behind-the-scenes tumult stemming from the departure of Frank Darabont, who developed the series — “Dead” has remained enormously compelling this season, managing to deal in thought-provoking topics that go well beyond the perceived limitations of a “show about zombies.” Virtually every episode, moreover, has contained at least one sequence that had a way of lingering beyond the hour, including a showdown a few weeks ago with strangers in a bar that was a mini-masterpiece of sustained tension.

Of course, when you dabble in morality, that often means having characters sit around talking about things, which isn’t always as visceral or exciting as some viewers would like. Still, if exploring those issues means less brain-splattering gore for the young male demo, that thinking-man’s approach is not only vital to keeping the series interesting, but more than a fair trade-off.

 

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