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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  1. That’s it? That’s all you’ve got to say?!
    Two things:
    1) ” …a showdown a few weeks ago with strangers in a bar that was a mini-masterpiece of sustained tension” – are you kidding me? Did we watch the same show? It was a run-of-the-mill scene – the requisite amount of tension for the situation, nothing brilliant, not even close. Big deal – they were in a bar, the baddies were shooting at them, they shot back, they tried to figure out how to get out, they got out.
    2) Yeah, it would be GREAT if this show really did deal with bigger issues in an effective and intelligent way. But it doesn’t. The most recent episode illustrated that. The so-called “discussion” about what to do with the prisoner wasn’t thought-provoking in the least. There was no discussion. One character had a conscience and wanted to save him; the rest were apathetic or cowardly or lazy and had no problem offing the – heretofore innocent – guy. In fact, one of them simply deferred to her husband “if you think it’s right” and didn’t bother to try to decide for herself what was morally right. That is appalling.
    Are your standards so low that when a series makes a really lame, half-arsed attempt to go “deeper” , you think it’s great just because they tried? Don’t you have any critical thinking skills? There was nothing interesting, intelligent, thought-provoking or challenging about that episode, whatsoever, and now it has been revealed that the writers have written a complete cast of characters who are moral cowards, at best. To me, they no longer have any redeeming qualities – that’s my personal deal-breaker there. So I no longer like them or care about them, and I won’t be watching. And any thinking person with a decent moral compass should feel the same way. The sad thing is, our moral compasses are generally so out of whack and our standards so low and sloppy, most people won’t even look at it that way, never mind care. Just like you.
    You need to watch some TRULY good shows – ones that are brilliantly written and really do deal with moral issues in intelligent and thought-provoking ways, such as Breaking Bad. The difference in quality of writing between these two shows is HUGE. Breaking Bad shows you how it should be done.
    The Walking Dead COULD be great, but it’s not. Use your brains a little and challenge yourself.

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