The zombie apocalypse does not exactly promote the finer points in humanity. With characters like the Governor and Merle Dixon, we see sides of humankind that makes us think that perhaps we do deserve the undead walking amongst us. In “Claimed,” our prison refugees meet some new characters, and now our splintered tribe is faced with a familiar  challenge: now that the world has been stripped of humanity (quite literally), who can we trust? To bring back a familiar phrase, they fear the living.

property of AMC
property of AMC

Episode S04x11 “Claimed”

The zombie apocalypse must be a lonely, tired experience. After a time, watching friends, strangers, children and lovers die would take it’s toll on any person, and we see the solitude of dystopia as very real in the distinctly solitary tales of the broken prison-tribe. We begin this episode with Beth and Daryl fleeing a horde of walkers, with Beth narrating the scene by reading pages from the diary we watched her keep at the prison in season 3. She talks about hope, home and family, and it is depressing as shit. There is no home, not for Beth and Daryl. They are alone and on the run, constantly forced to move so as to escape the threat that lurks at their heels. There is no hope. Beth is desperate and Daryl is resigned. They track the living and continuously come up short. It is a lesson in futility. There is no family. The group is splintered and no one knows who is alive and who is dead. This episode, we see the former prison-tribe moving towards one another (we hope). It seems that the group is slowly coming together, in parts, but it may take a few more episodes for the entire tribe to be reunited. In the meantime, each small faction of the former prison tribe has their own challenges and victories, which will hopefully climax in some awesome zombie ass kicking by the end of the season.

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Episode S04xE10 “Inmates”

The mid-season premiere of The Walking Dead debuted this week and boy, was this one a doozy. The intense character development of Carl and Michonne reminded viewers how much the zombie apocalypse has changed those who are living through it.  Carl has traded in the modern comforts of video games, flat screen televisions and chocolate pudding for a hand gun and dry cereal. He spent much of the previous season by his father’s side and only now has begun to break away and question Rick’s abilities and judgement. Carl is becoming a man with his own thoughts and views and it is terrifying. For Michonne, the waste land of post-apocalyptic America has turned her into a zombie-killing machine; she is good with a sword and never hesitates when it comes to slicing off the head of a walker. She is a loner with nothing to lose because she lost everyone she loved long ago.

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Episode: S04xE09 “Walkabouts”

Last week, the Collectiva Diva kicked off our Villains of Note blog series with a post about the King of Hell, Crowley.  This week I’m focusing on a villain who is not the series arch-villain, but rather a man whose most defining attributes are his racism and his Captain Hook-esque stump arm. Better known as Daryl Dixon’s a-hole big brother.

property of AMC
AMC

How He’s Called:

Merle Dixon the One-Handed. Older brother of Daryl.

Distinguishing Traits:

Racist, homophobic, bigot with a knackering for violence and Zombie Fight Club. Extremely attached to and protective of his younger brother.

Sun don’t shine on the same dog’s tail all the time, Merle (a brief bio):

property of AMC
property of AMC

The Dixons are products of an unhappy childhood, and it shows. Like his brother Daryl, Merle is extremely skilled at hunting and tracking. He is positively lethal with almost any weapon handed to him (pun intended). When we first meet Merle, he is abandoned on a rooftop by his zombie survivor companions because his aggressive racist attitude and chained to a pipe. For the better part of two seasons, we don’t know what happened to Merle (almost everyone except Daryl assumes he’s dead), and then, in season 3, we find him again in Woodbury as the Governor’s left-hand man (get it?).

In season 3, we find a Merle who’s bitter, cruel, and more than a little bit conflicted between his love for his brother and his loyalty to the Governor. At one point in the third season, Merle’s former apocalypse-mate, Glen, and Glen’s fiancee, Maggie, are taken prisoner by the Governor and Merle shows no mercy to his former companion.

Perhaps the most interesting development in Merle’s character is when he joins the prison group (headed up by Sheriff Rick) and is forced to interact with the same people he used to ridicule and torment. The result? A lot of awkward and a lot of Merle refusing to apologize for who he is. Like a Dixon (cuz Dixon = bad ass…get it?)

The Walking Dead holds a dear place in my heart because I’ve enjoyed it since the beginning, week by week, for the past 4 years. After my last post, obviously this is a big deal. I’m also a huge zombie film fan. One of the first posts I ever wrote for this blog was a list of my favorite zombie movies, that I pretty much live by. Never before this show has this strange passion of mine been so well represented on the small screen. The Walking Dead has really revolutionized the way audiences view the undead and the post-apocalyptic world that deals with the phenomenon. In the past 4 years, classes on zombies have popped up at respectable universities, Long Beach and other cities host annual zombie walks, and TWD has had a prominent place at San Diego Comic-Con, including a 2013 arena-wide zombie fest at Petco Park that gave fans the chance to experience getting chased by walkers, Daryl Dixon style.

Writing about this series has been intense. Diligently, if not a week or so behind the rest of the class, I have been listening to lectures in my UC Irvine course, “Society, Science and Survival: Lessons from AMC’s The Walking Dead” and trying to incorporate what I’m learning into my weekly discussion on the show. Writing this way has helped me process this fairly intense season, while objectively watching my beloved characters slowly spiral into a very bleak situation. Because, while this series has instilled in audiences a healthy fear of how to deal with the undead, interacting with the living has always been a truly frightening notion.

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Episode: S04xE08 “Too Far Gone”

I purchased a Netflix account a few years back, after I subscribe for the 30-day trial and then forgot to cancel. For a good while, I only rented movies, but then one summer I decided I wanted to get caught up on True Blood. I’d never watched a TV show on Netflix, just because the process seemed a bit overwhelming and I really didn’t know where to begin. True Blood was only available on DVD and I wanted to watch 3 seasons in the month’s time, so that I would be caught up before the 4th season premiered, so I upgraded my account to get 3 DVDs at a time, and I jumped right in. I started off watching 3-4 episodes a day, and after a few weeks, I finished the series. It was an amazing feeling. I understood the story arc, the character development and the themes and premise of the show seemed solid and easy to follow. The writing flowed well and instead of focusing on the little inconsistencies (that a week between programming can magnify), I was looking at THE BIG PICTURE.

And so it began...

Society begins and ends with difficult choices.  But, what is a society? This week in our online zombie course from Cal State Fullerton, we are discussing the development of societies from the point of views of philosophers such as Aristotle to Karl Marx. According to Thomas Hobbes, society begins with self-restraint and an agreement to give social justice decisions over to a designated leader. In past seasons of The Walking Dead, that leader has been Sheriff Rick Grimes. He organized the prison-tribe before they were a prison-tribe, he redistributed power at Woodbury and led a hungry, terrified and exhausted group of survivors to safety time and time again. In seasons past, Rick has stated that the group power is not a democracy, and rightfully so. The “Ricktatorship” has worked well in the past, but as Rick began to buckle from the weight of losing Lori not only to Shane, but to childbirth, as well as the knowledge that there is no greater society at work to help the group in times of grave danger, well, the Sheriff began to lose his mind last season, didn’t he? A recovering Rick, gardener Rick, farmer Rick of season 4–doesn’t want to pick up a gun and see his Carl lose his humanity by murdering zombies or even willful, human enemies. Season 4 Rick, at least in episodes 1-3, seemed content to allow the newly formed Council to make the difficult decisions, while he remained safe in the bubble he created for himself. Unfortunately, as Carol notes in this episode, Rick can be a farmer during the zombie apocalypse, but he can’t ONLY be a farmer.

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Episode: S04xE04 “Indifference”

So, a new threat in the form of the oldest threat to humankind: disease. There is an aggressive flu strain that is killing seemingly healthy members of the jail-tribe almost instantly. With no way to fight against simple viruses or infection, the group has to resort to Dark Age methods of guessing who will be next and then separating the infected from the group. This plot point reminds audiences that in the zombie apocalypse, health care is pretty much nonexistent and, while tribe members have been lucky not to get sick (except Andrea in S03E01) lack of proper medicine, vaccines and sterilization can be deadly.

Poor Patrick didn't get much on-screen time without blood covering his face.
Poor Patrick didn’t get much on-screen time without blood covering his face.

Episode:

S04xE02 “Infected”

There comes a time in a girl’s life when she realizes that the zombie apocalypse could happen any day, and there’s no way she wants to spend her life amongst the undead without a bit of style. (Just because I’m dead and decomposing, darling, doesn’t I have to look like People of Walmart.)

Some of these looks are inspired by The Walking Dead–Daryl Dixon has become a redneck zombie-killing fashion icon–but others are just disgustingly awesome. I’ve included the websites and prices…just in case you want to get zombified.

First off, if you want to blend in with the zombie horde, but don’t particularly want to rub blood and intestines all over yourself, consider purchasing this hoodie.

 

thinkgeek.com $44.99

For the person concerned about surviving the apocalypse, this tee should help you remember the motto of apocalypse survivors everywhere: What Would Daryl Do

hottopic.com $20.50

And for the zombie who likes footsie pajamas. Remember that as a member of the undead, you poor circulation and are quite likely to get cold.

thinkgeek.com $29.99