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The Walking Dead Underachieves Because of Its Radical Nihilism (Spoiler Warning!)

(Warning: This post contains spoilers through Episode 4×14 of The Walking Dead. Proceed at your own risk.)

Right now, The Walking Dead is my favorite show on TV, which sucks because of how disappointing the show can be. Don’t get me wrong, the zombies are terrifying and the action scenes are creative and captivating, but I just can’t stand the people moping around when they are on the verge of running out of food. What would make the show better is a dose of conservative ideology.

The Walking Dead underachieves is because it’s a wildly liberal/nihilistic show, embracing the motto, in the long run, we’re all dead. Whatever satisfies you now, do it. Which works great, in the modern American world of 7-11’s and mass convenience. When you put that philosophy into practice in a world full of flesh-eating zombies (as TWD tries to do every week), at some point, the characters become unsympathetic, because there’s so little pleasure in the world. If you live for pleasure in the zombie-apocalypse, why don’t you walk into the arms of the biters?

Season 4’s second half demonstrates how dumb this philosophy is. Rick and the counsel would have plan ready if they had to suddenly abandon the prison, like bags that were ready to fill with food, and a place to met on the outside (and getting to this specific, predetermined place could have been the major arc of the second half of the season). Remember how Glenn slept on the broken bridge through the night after the Governor’s attack? The prison was intact enough that they would have time to go to the kitchen and gather supplies before they left.

Instead, the characters run off into the woods and scavenge houses and eateries for food. Hadn’t they picked the area clean when they were on the road a year ago, at the beginning of season 3? The world went to hell, but it’s as if the McDonald’s never closed.

This roaming-in-circles, Cheese-Wiz-from-the-sky attitude is because Hollywood holds luck, not hard or planning, as the main arbiter of success and failure in life. The belief in the supremacy of lucks leads to a belief that personal actions are not important, and at some point, there’s no point in watching people whining over their personal autonomy being violating. (Like Maggie in Episode 4×13, for example.)

There’s a simple conservative ideology that could fix this: building for the future. Things may look bleak, but we have inalienable rights steaming for our creator, however we define him, and we have to preserve our society. To those who want to keep ideologies off television, I’d say this: this is a mild conservative ideology that would make the show mostly apolitical, and if you want to watch more liberal TV, you have unending options. No one says you still can’t have a couple pessimistic characters to balance things out.

I do have a glimmer of hope that The Walking Dead will get better, and that has to do with the one arc that I have found interesting in the second half of this season, the Daryl-Beth story. I know fans tend to complain about Beth (seriously, fans of guy shows hate woman as a general principal it seems), but Beth got Daryl to be more optimistic and to open up. If this season ends with Daryl saving Beth and becoming a more purposed character, that could be a great arc into the next season. But given how this show likes to play ball, I’m guessing that Beth is going to be killed, and her death is somehow going to motivate Daryl to be more of a leader. While the latter scenario would be ideologically consistent, it would do the impossible: it would make The Walking Dead even more nihilistic. But at least I might be able to give up the show then.

(For more on TWD‘s ideological issues, check out this post from The Federalist.)

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Oh Beth, if You Were Only on Hart of Dixie

Future Walking Dead Death Discovered? (MAJOR SPOILERS)

(Warning this post will contain major spoilers for the second half of The Walking Dead‘s fourth season. Proceed at your own risk.)

A few months ago, I read a spoiler from Comicbook.com that one of the deaths in the final eight episodes of season 4 of The Walking Dead would be a character that had not died in the comics yet. Being the looser that I am, I analyzed some of the promos and after seeing them closely, I’m guessing that the character who dies is Maggie, who yes, has not died in the comics.

My basis for that is the freeze frame bellow. Look at what Maggie is wearing, the blue-black top.

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Now, look at this freeze-frame from another trailer. The second body from the left in the picture looks to be wearing the same blue top. Again this, is just a guess that it’s Maggie. Notice how Beth is crying.

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And, in case anyone asks, here is another shot showing walkers in the same spot eating someone.

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Was The Walking Dead Too Trigger Happy? (Spoilers through Ep 3×12)

Warning: The following post contains spoilers through episode 3×12 of The Walking Dead. For those of you waiting for it to come out on Netflix, I envy your financial restraint.

While I’m in the minority among cult show fans, I like Sarah Wayne Callies on The Walking Dead. I enjoyed her on Prison Break, as she is an actress who brings a lot of depth and has a real “Average America” look. So when Lori died on The Walking Dead, I was disappointed. I speculated that Lori might die (as she did in the comics), but I hoped it could be done the right way.

I was somewhat disappointed with how early Lori was killed in the show, in the fourth episode of season three. My thought when it happened was “soon, but maybe not too soon.” Rick and Lori still had issues to work on in their marriage, but I was willing to see how the aftermath of her death would play out. Robert Kirkman stated that he’d dreamed up big arcs for characters, only to end up killing them, and a lot of characters on TV end up getting killed off way later than they should. My philosophy is, if a show makes a mistake killing a character, it will very obvious after six or seven episodes.

After so many episodes, I was annoyed that Lori has appeared four times: the phone call in episode six, the two ghosts appearances in eight and nine, and in a picture in episode twelve. If you’re going to portray her four times in eight episodes after you killed her, it is questionable whether or not Lori should have been killed to begin with. Especially now, Lori could have had a huge role guiding Rick now that he’s burden with the threat of Woodbury. Herschel is the only voice of reason for Rick, and there’s only so long Herschel can survive with one leg.

Let me be clear: I’m not saying Lori’s death was a mistake. I’m saying, if you are going to kill her, go all in. Don’t show her more than once.

To be fair, TWD is going to have more deaths on it than the average TV show, just because it’s a world where 95% of the population is flesh eating zombies, and all the advances of modern technology are lacking. If there wasn’t a higher death rate than other shows, it would look completely unrealistic.

That wasn’t the only questionable move TWD has made this season. Rick kicking Tyrese’s group out of the prison was downright idiotic. (What, where else were they going to end up other than Woodobury, with a guide of how to get into the prison?) But Lori’s early death could end up making the show unlikable and without heart, like 24 in its sixth season. To all the fans who found Lori whiny, I would say, who doesn’t come across as whiny in the lead female role of a male-oriented serial drama? Any of Jack’s 24 girlfriends or Kate on Lost faced the same complaint. Prison Break fans campaigned to bring  Callies back to their show. Outside of Michonne and Maggie, is there one female character on TWD the fans like?

The storyline that directly came out of Lori’s death, namely rick’s delusions, is one I detest. Maybe it’s because I’m use to my dark drama grounded in realism (24, Prison Break, The Following), but I just find delusional Rick to be campy and too easy. Anyone being that self-absorbed in a world of flesh eating zombies won’t last two minutes (and he almost didn’t). TWD is best off when it is grounded in reality, like Lost was.

The last episode as of this writing, “Clear”, did move The Walking Dead in a positive direction. I don’t think it is one of the “series greats” Kirkman touted it to be before it aired, but Rick seemed to realize he has to live with his delusions, and if that brings that storyline to a close, I’ll do jumping jacks. Michonne’s character was deepened too, and given how much fans want her to be a huge part of the show, that’s a good thing. All this points to is that The Walking Dead needs a mini-reboot as Season 3 ends and Season 4 begins, which a lot of shows need after three seasons.

I just hope Sarah Wayne Callies finds another show to do. Missing her on TWD, I found the Tarzan series the WB did ten years ago on YouTube and loved it, aside from a poor cast Tarzan. Maybe the CW could redo that show with SWC now; she’d be believable as an NYC police detective, and is the perfect Jane.

Hearing Paul Ryan: A Political Apathete Steps Out

Beign the good Lutheran I am, I’m politically apathetic. Heck, when the zombies rise up, politics are going to get simplified pretty quick. But on Sunday, I received an e-mail about a rally for Paul Ryan in Adel, Iowa, on a day when I just happened to be driving from Ames to Seward, I figured why not go.

Due to some construction, I had to drive into Adel on country roads. I didn’t realize how big the event was until I saw cars lining the street several blocks away from the courthouse. I choose the most expeditious spot and hoofed it. There were barricades set up around the square and the businesses were empty. If you didn’t know, you might have guessed they were filming The Walking Dead, as all of the storefronts in the town square where empty. A giant American flag had been hung over a building that had Obama banners in it.

Passing the security checkpoint, I took a place at the back of the square. The crowd looked to be about two or three hundred; I don’t know where all those cars came from. I showed up late, and it was worth it. I had to listen to twenty minutes of local politicians before Ryan came out. He’s slick and smart; really, the only difference between him and Sarah Palin is that Ryan has something to say and isn’t relevant in the Kardashian-esque way. Even if he and Romney don’t win, he’ll be relevant after the election,which is wonderful.

I was surprised at how much he spoke of job creation and the economy. The one thing he mentioned that I thought was noteworthy was how much prosperity there could be for average people. All politicians, both parties, talk about that kind of stuff, which I find to be pandering. Not that it’s not sad when people lose their jobs; but there’s a limit to how much anyone can achieve, and there’s no shame in admitting it. But of course, politicians don’t get elected by telling people the truth, only what they want to hear. It’s not a Republican or Democrat problem; it’s an American problem.

I stayed for an hour and left at the end of Ryan’s speech, while I believe he was shaking hands. Sorry, Congressman Ryan, I had a life to get to. But I’m glad I took that hour and a half out of my day of travel to listen and consider the issues he talked about. After all, I’m not going to start thing about government and order again until Joe the Plumber wants to bit my neck to feed his ravenous desire for human flesh.

Joe Pa and The Governor: A Surprising Analogy

Coy is the word I would use to describe the trailer for the new season of The Walking Dead, and Robert Kirkman can afford to be coy with his pet project. Having set cable records and zombified the geek audience hungry for a cult show after the end of Lost, TWD doesn’t have to set up a huge event in its third season premiere, just be building to one.

But there is one curious thing I noticed in the trailer, and that is the possible next direction the show may go: tackling the key issue facing small town America. Will Kirkman be setting up The Governor to be Joe Paterno in the apocalypse?

I haven’t read TWD comics, but The Governor/Paterno analogy could be one that gains steam. Like Paterno, The Governor is a lone dominating figure in landscape where leadership is lacking. People turn to him no matter whether he is good or bad: like Randall, they just think they’ll have a better chance with him. In any case, David Morissey looks like the perfect pick, and it should make for great drama.

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