The Walking Dead: Shifting Roles and Expectations

As the prison-tribe begins to establish concrete roles in terms of leaders, nurturers and warriors, we see individuals strengthened by the choices they make. The expectations of life pre-apocalypse do not exist. Hershel is not just a veterinarian, but the group healer, with the patience and skills to help those in need; Maggie is not only the farmer’s daughter, but a warrior woman who protects the camp bravely and efficiently; Carl is not just a dumb kid mindlessly following around his mother, he is a savvy soldier who follows his father’s orders (much better than he ever followed Lori’s). Since the beginning of the show, audiences have watched racial, gender and ageist stereotypes shift as individuals in the group prove themselves able to accomplish more than pre-apocalyptic archetypes allow.

The Prison-Tribe (and the Gov).
Prison-tribe selfie (plus, the Gov).

Episode: S04xE05 “Internment”

Rick has made decisions regarding the safety of the camp, and as the appointed leader of the prison-tribe, he must stand by his choices regardless of the consequences. It seems that Rick finally has come back to reality and is ready to take charge of the group. His decision to leave Carol behind may adversely affect the group, but at least he made a choice and reestablished his role as group leader. As we discussed last week, leaders have to make the tough choices. This isn’t a democracy, it is a Ricktatorship. That being said, in this particular episode, there are characters we see step up and reveal their strengths, working together to repair the weaknesses of the group.

Hershel decides to be strong til the end.
Hershel decides to be strong til the end.

Hershel is the MVP of this episode. As much as we focused on his character and delved into his personal choices and hardships, I was sure he would be killed off by the end of it. Hershel, the farmer/vet who had a barn full of walkers and refused to believe that his wife was really a flesh-eating monster, has evolved into an even more complex and interesting character. He believes life is a test and God has a plan for him and the group. When Rick tells Hershel about Carol, Hershel is distraught, but quickly goes about locking up the sick in the cells, helping Sasha, Glen and eventually, fighting off a crap load of tribe-members-turned-zombies as the killer flu begins to take lives within the prison walls. It is a touching scene, when, at the end of the show and after an immense show of resolve, Hershel breaks down crying, alone in his cell. It isn’t easy being strong all the time, and I hope the day that Hershel truly breaks is far, far away.

Maggie has decided to be a BAMF.
Maggie decides to be a BAMF.

Maggie has quickly become a woman warrior and integral part of the prison tribe security. When we first met her on the farm, she was brave but a bit reckless. Her need to rebel against her father’s rules outweighed her desire to remain safe, and it almost got her killed. When she found her niché, it was at the front lines, stabbing and slashing walkers, protecting the tribe and often, right next to Glen, her love interest. While, in this episode, Maggie would like to be in the sick ward helping her father and lover, Rick even comments that he is glad she is not because he needs her help with securing the perimeter. When shots are fired in the sick ward, Maggie rushes to help and saves her father’s life as well as Glen’s. and proves that she is capable of fighting hard for the people she loves.

Carl has decided to grow up.
Carl has decided to grow up.

Carl has had to grow up in the zombie apocalypse, something audiences cannot fathom. He has killed not only his own zombie-mother, but an “innocent” outsider and countless walkers. While Rick has obviously attempted to lessen Carl’s exposure to, well, everything, Carl realizes that his father will have to let him grow up and be a man, even if that means killing zombies once in a while. When Rick asks Carl for help securing the gates that are quickly falling down from all the zombie weight against them, Carl finally gets the chance to show his father that he can follow orders but he can also think independently and make smart choices. It was touching to see father and son side by side, killing walkers and protecting the tribe. When the Daryl arrives with the medicine and Carl tells Rick that everything is going to be okay, I almost, ALMOST believe him.

We did not get to see Daryl’s reaction to Carol being gone in this episode, but we did get to see a familiar creeper in the shadows at the end. That’s right, friends, the Governor is back and he seems to be consistently crazy. Was he the person feeding rats to walkers? What will Michonne do when she sees him? How has he survived on his own in the woods? Gaaaah—


The Collectiva Diva

Take a sneak peek at next week’s episode, “Live Bait”.