Has The Walking Dead Gone Too Far?March 21, 2014
Last Sunday’s Walking Dead sent shockwaves through fans around the world. Robert Kirkman has previously warned that the end of this series is dark, but have they crossed the line?
If you are a fan of the show, you probably tuned in to AMC to catch the premiere or repeat episode of The Walking Dead on Sunday March 16 as many others did. In the last episode, we caught up again with Tyreese, Carol, Lizzie, Mika and baby Judith in their quest to reach Terminus. We haven’t seen them since Carol joined the three girls and Tyreese, and since Carol seemed to be an emotional rock for the two girls who now have no one in the world, perhaps we’d begin to see a change in Lizzie.
If you remember, in the episode “Inmates”, we see Lizzie begin to openly display aborrant behaviour when she mutilates rabbits and then later is seen suffocating baby Judith, only partially in an attempt to keep her from crying and attracting walkers. We’ve known since we saw Lizzie in the prison yard naming walkers and saying that they’re just ‘different’ that she isn’t quite right, but did we ever expect her to do what we saw in the episode “The Grove” that aired the other night?
Was Lizzie always this way with clear anxiety (we see Mika on a couple occasions help her count or tell her to look at flowers to relax) and with a penchant to butcher small animals, or is she a result of her environment? We have little to no information about what Lizzie was like pre-apocalypse, and people, even young ones, are susceptible to PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and may exhibit symptoms in a variety of different ways. In a post-apocalyptic world where nothing is as you once remembered, it’s an easy guess to say that a lot of survivors may have PTSD (anyone remember Morgan?).
Lizzie’s ability to take a human life is first called into question when we see her smothering Judith to keep her quiet, but whether she was just intent on keeping the small infant quiet while fearing for her life or if she was intentionally trying to kill the baby is up for debate.
Fears for Lizzie’s mental stability boil over in “The Grove”, where we witness her feeding a walker rats while telling her sister she could be like them [the walkers] to make everyone understand, playing with a walker outside, and then having a complete tantrum when Carol kills it with a well placed hunting knife through the forehead. It’s clear that Lizzie doesn’t want to or can’t accept the fact that walkers are not sick people and they’ll never be the way they once were, and neither will the world. The concept in and of itself is hard enough for a child to grasp, so her reactions are not as stupid as some people think. Humans all have a different way of coping with traumatic situations, and sometimes denial works great. Other times, not so much.
When Lizzie goes so far as to take the life of her little sister Mika to attempt to prove a point to Carol and Tyreese about walkers, the two of them have to come up with a solution. First, there’s a possibility of her bringing walkers around. Second, they’re worried for the safety of baby Judith. I’m sure they were concerned for themselves too, but something in me doubts that Lizzie could actually harm Carol.
They decide that killing Lizzie is the most viable option, with Carol being the one to carry out the execution. Immediately, social media jumped to life with people both praising and condemning the characters actions after she shoots the little girl in the head. Here are some tweets from both sides that we pulled from Twitter:
#TheWalkingDead needs to have more shows like Sundays. Darker and morally ambiguous.
Wow! What an amazing episode of #TheWalkingDead. Superb acting and writing!
They went dark. I thought “they’d never go there” dark. Currently unsure if I can still watch.
I didn’t think #TheWalkingDead could get more disturbing. I was wrong.
Since then it’s been a topic for debate; was Carol justified in her actions and did the show take a darker turn and risk losing viewers?
In the situation with Carol, they had to look at what their options were. Leaving a child to become a walker would definitely be worse than death (for most people, anyway) and they knew she wouldn’t have the skills in order to survive. Some figured that they shouldn’t have left her and should have brought her to Terminus to be passed off to someone else but truth be told, there was too much risk in that. So was Carol’s execution of a dangerous threat in a world where morals and judgement is clouded justified? I’m going with yes. Who knows what would have happened if she didn’t, and while Carol is clearly distraught over the situation, she did what she had to do, as she’s done before in the past. In a post-apocalyptic world, you have to look out for yourself, and that’s just the harsh truth.
Has or will the show lose viewership because of their choice to go down a much darker path?
To be fair, the comics are about a hundred times worse. Anyone who has read them can tell you those survivors go through absolute Hell and back again. What’s happened on the television show is barely edging on the horrific topics that the comics have covered so far. The show by Robert Kirkman’s own words, is only going to get darker. There are a lot of things from the storyline in the comics they can introduce, one of them being a cannibalistic group called the Hunters.
If the show is too dark but you still wish you could watch it, not to fear, as of today (Thursday, March 20 2014) The Walking Dead has a syndication pact with MyNetworkTV and the episodes will be edited for violent content, meaning the show will step from a TV-MA rating down to a TV-14 rating.
There are only two episodes left in the season, and it seems like things are going to get much worse before they get better, and Kirkman has already teased that the ending to season 4 will be a cliffhanger. We’re going to need a support group to get through their seven months until the next season…