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Series-wide themes for The Walking Dead, continued! (S1 & 2 themes here.) Gettin' right down to the real nitty-gritty really this time! Starting with, the big three overarching motifs I've actually noticed: time, water, and signs. (Well, and also using injuries/appearance/behaviour to signal links between characters, but I'll get to that later.)

Time motif:
Time is the most prominent, and also the one with the least ambiguity. Whenever it's mentioned, or a clock or watch featured, the message invariably is: this state will not last, time is running out. Don't take it for granted, you never have the time you expect you do; and in concrete terms, something is coming down the pipe to fuck this situation up, and soon, whether that be in the next few minutes or in the next few episodes. (Not that things don't get fucked up without the helpful hint of the time motif; when it pops up, it seems generally to be flagging unexamined, faulty assumptions about the way things are/how things would continue, and the unwise steps characters have taken (or procrastinated taking) on the basis of those assumptions.)

The count-down clock at the CDC was perhaps the most spectacular instance of this motif, but the most exposition of it, along with commentary-via-reference, comes through Dale, of course, the character most fixated on orderly regulation of life in general and time in particular:
Morales — I gotta ask you, man. It's been driving me crazy.
Dale — What?
Morales — That watch.
Dale — What's wrong with my watch?
Morales — I see you, every day. Same time, winding that thing, like a village priest saying mass.
Jacqui — I've wondered this myself.
Dale — I'm missing the point...?
Jacqui — Unless I've misread the signs, the world seems to have come to an end. At least hit a speed bump for a good long while.
Morales — But there's you, every day, winding that stupid watch.
Dale — Time. It's important to keep track, isn't it? The days, at least. Don't you think? Andrea? Back me up here.
Andrea — *shakes head*
Dale — I like, I like what, um, a father said to son when he gave him a watch, that had been handed down through generations. He said, "I give you the mausoleum of all hope and desire, which will fit your individual needs no better than it did mine or my father's before me; I give it to you, not that you may remember time, but that you may forget it. For a moment, now and then, and not spend all of your breath trying to conquer it."
Amy — You are so weird.
*general laughter*
Dale — It's not me. It's Faulkner. William Faulkner. May be my bad paraphrasing....
This goodnatured conversation, chewing the fat around the "fish fry" (happily pointing out that no matter what any of the characters want, strive for, or do, ultimately they are still just running out the clock), occurs mere minutes before the camp is overrun with walkers, when Amy, and Jim, get bit, prompting the move to the CDC in search of a cure/hope/something better. Dale, it turns out, is quoting (abridged but hardly paraphrased at all!) The Sound and the Fury, which I have never read but a quick skim of those quotes certainly look ... pertinent. Most especially the rest of what the father had to say upon bestowing the watch, which Dale neglected to include:
Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools.
(Thanks, Faulkner!)

Meanwhile, when Hershel gives his grandfather's pocket watch to Glenn in 2.11, signifying his blessing on Glenn – in S4 he would tell him he considered him as his own son, not just son-in-law – for Maggie (to whom Glenn had missed the opportunity to say "I love you" back), it carried not any regard for the alcoholic, abusive, estranged father Hershel inherited it from (along with his farm), but the love, strength and goodness of his first wife, Maggie's mother, who redeemed it after Hershel pawned it for a night of drinking, and gave it back to him years later once he dried out. Taken in conjunction with the Faulkner story, it becomes a gift of time, which is the gift of the temporary release from time's tyranny, that once you let the moment go by you can never get it back. When they are all driven from the farm by a huge walker herd in two episodes' time, Glenn carpe diems and tells Maggie he does love her. This is about the only time anyone's come out with really any kind of positive result (notwithstanding the devastating loss of the farm) from the time motif at all.

(Edit: I forgot to say, the flashback at the end of S4 implied that Hershel and Rick had at least partially learned that lesson:
Rick — What time is it?
Hershel — I never know what time it is anymore. Ever since I gave Glenn my watch, it's always "right now" to me.
Hershel — It can be like this all the time.
Rick — It's like this now. That's enough.
So we'll see how that continues to develop.)

Even Daryl can't fully escape this theme, although the Dixon contra-theme still takes an axe to the rocket-launcher-proof door where it can. The only other time he seriously interacts with it is when he's fumingly helping Beth track down her first drink in the desecrated golf club, after she refuses to let them both sit and stew in the basic survival mode he'd flumped back into after Hershel's death and the devastating loss of the prison and everyone they know. He picks his way through a wrecked hallway and rights a tipped grandfather(!) clock – and only in order to get it out of his way – which (in this world were everything else is winding down) restarts it. He gives its TEMPUS FUGIT inscription a single contemptuous look before turning away (I love that the only time they go that explicit, they do it with the one guy who might not even know what it means, far less care), and when its sudden chiming summons some country club member walkers, he savagely beats and dispatches them with a golf club. (The last one, whose skull Daryl finally tees off, is lying beside a four of clubs playing card. I feel like someone's getting their pun on.) His subsequent adventures with Beth do give him a second chance – metaphorically taking him back to his father's house, coming to terms with and rejecting (and burning down!) the hellhole legacy of his father and his past – restarting the full humanity and mission-of-care he'd attained by the time they lost the prison. However, in the very next episode, the moment he begins to relax and plan how they might be able to live going forward (the first time we ever see him do this, rather than just react to the present necessity), boom, he makes a faulty assumption (although not about the sustainability of their circumstances, but about a stray dog – who he's giving one more chance to come in, to stay, but this time, whoops, it brought walkers on its tail), and boy howdy does it not last. (further thoughts on this in comments below)

Water motif:
This one is ... all over the place (fittingly). Any time there is a mention or image of water, or a body or source of water, including sinks, and bathrooms in general, something specifically to do with the consideration of literal survival – life and/or death – will come up. Major or minor, this often includes the concept of some kind of question or choice, and it is therefore obviously super varied. It also tends to crop up more frequently when the characters are settled somewhere, rather than on the move, when the sign motif comes more into play, but there's still plenty of overlap. From the first thing Rick doing upon getting up from his coma bed being guzzling water from a tap, to (thus far) Daryl wetting his rag for Rick to clean the blood from his beard after ripping out a man's jugular, water marks life and/or death. Sometimes it's intercut, one set of characters with the water immediately followed by the other set discussing life/death/survival. Sometimes it's not a human death but a walker (ie, whether to kill the one in the well or try and get it out alive; it also tends to accompany a scenario of the aftermath of people who've chosen to "opt out" of the apocalypse, or were unable to kill the walker of a loved one; and then there's Jenner's decontamination shower, as behind him the last remnants of TS-19 – and any forlorn hope of a cure – are annihilated).

Some more examples: When Rick confronts Carol over whether she killed Karen and David (to her, being a choice of killing them in order to save lives), she's hauling water; that whole story thread was staged around Carol taking it upon herself to try to repair the water supply to the prison. When Milton is conducting his experiment with Mr Coleman to determine if there are any remnants of the person in the walker, which Andrea is recruited to put down if she deems it necessary, paintings of beach scenes hang around the deathbed. Rick's bid to do whatever it takes to live on Hershel's farm involves wrangling walkers trapped in a swamp into the barn alive; ditto the swamp-trapped walker Carl inadvertantly frees by his choice to play/torment it instead of just killing it, which then goes on to kill Dale. Shane buzzing his hair over a sink, with the shower running next to him, staring into his reflection after having sacrificed Otis to get away from the overrun school with the medical supplies to save Carl's life; this, one episode after discovering a bottled water delivery truck, inundating himself in it, yelling it was like being baptised, man! (then the walker herd shows up). Glenn and Rick cover themselves in walker guts and it starts raining, prompting them to fearfully wonder if the smell of death is still masking their smell of life to the crowd of walkers around them (nope; run!). When Rick finally reaches the hallucination of dead Lori face-to-face, they are standing in the middle of the footbridge over the creek outside the prison. Amy and Andrea, fishing, discover their father taught each of them how to fish completely differently, knowing that Andrea needed to catch/eat them and Amy needed to release them. Carl laughing and joking with Michonne over dry cereal and full water bottles, forgets himself and brings up Judith('s formula to put on the cereal), who they think is dead but is in fact alive. Lizzie playing tag with a walker is viewed through a window as the kettle that was on the stove in the foreground comes to a boil and begins to scream its whistle. And that's not even getting started on The Governor lounging back and contemplating a trophy wall of the heads of walkers and people he's killed floating in fishtanks, or beginning another collection with walker!Pete chained at the bottom of the lake. Abraham argues for abandoning Glenn's search for Maggie in favour of getting Eugene to DC, per Eugene's claim to be able to fix the apocalypse and save the human race – but the water jugs Abraham's carrying slung across him are all noisily empty, so make of that what you will.

And on, and on, and on and on and on. Honestly, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have caught this one, except for the focus on water sources in the prison (especially the shot of the shower running out as Patrick falls out of frame and dies) and all the wider questioning whether this indicated this was where the flu contagion was coming from (nope) while I was trying to spot the season's theme. The water focus was more to signpost the abundant life the survivors had built there – the huge brimming rain barrels in particular (the first thing we see Rick do that season is liberally splash some on his face, and head into the field for a day of tending his growing crops and livestock symbolising his choice of that life for himself and Carl, rejecting the life of violence/killing, setting up a nice bookend to the brief, futile attempt to wash a man's lifeblood off his face with a rag dampened from a half-empty water bottle at the end of the season). While the contagion progresses and people die, the water supply also dwindles, before finally the prison itself is lost.

Other drinks or liquids don't seem to count, although S4 also introduced mud, saline, and fog as possible variants. The Governor, attempting to flee Martinez's camp with his new fauxmily, is blockaded by a group of literally-stuck-in-the-mud walkers stretching across the crossroads (and yes, characters at crossroads is always symbolic), concludes it's futile, and turns around, setting in motion all the death and destruction (in the name of life) that came next. After which, Michonne wanders aimlessly among the walkers with her walkers-on-leashes camouflage, with dream-flashbacks to her pre-death boyfriend and his best friend, and her small son, her boyfriend questioning why keep on living in this apocalyptic world of horror and death, until he and his best friend end up as the walkers she originally used as camouflage (and her son is nowhere to be seen), until she wakes up to herself and turns around, backtracking to the muddy trail where she'd previously seen and turned away from Rick and Carl's clear footprints. Following their trail to where they'd gone through Joe & Joe Jr's BBQ SHACK, and they'd found supplies, some bottles of water, along with the note
Please do what I couldn't – Joe Jr.
and a barricaded walker, Michonne stops at the sight of the note, sinks down brokenly, half-crying, and says,
Mike. I miss you. I missed you even when I was with you. Back at the camp – it wasn't you who did it. You were wrong. Because I'm still here. And you could be too! And he could be.... I know the answer. I know why.
She gets up and continues on, finally spotting them inside a house, eating, with Rick taking a drink from one of the bottles of water; when she knocks on the door, Rick spies her through the peephole, sinks down brokenly, half-laughing, and says to Carl,
It's for you.
(Confession: I do ship Rick/Michonne like very quiet, non-urgent burning. Her love for Carl and their BroTP is everything that is wonderful, but I am absolutely going to interpret that moment as the "why" also being for Rick – the polar opposite to Mike, so I guess that might make Mike a Rick analogue too? I'm not saying it's definitely supported by the text, but I am saying I do not even care. He just finished her sentence okay.)

As a side note, so far food barely seems to be a thing, survival-wise; its necessity is acknowledged, but nearly always in casual, incidental ways, it has not yet been the cause of serious problems. As Daryl notes
Gotta eat. That's one thing these walkers'n us have in common.
Walkers don't need water, don't even seem to register it, and blunder into water bodies that often trap or sweep them away; there is a huge distinction between what water (likewise any concept of life and death) means to living humans and the walking dead. There is virtually no difference between what food means to them both, and if that becomes a theme, it'll be when the other differences between them have been whittled down to very little (perhaps when, say, other living humans are eating people, too, although I still wouldn't necessarily bet on that being S5's theme). Eating together traditionally symbolises fellowship, accord, community; the sharing of food is, on a primal level, partaking the most basic need all people have in common, something we get instinctively. (And walkers, too, gather around food, even though there's no human connection left between them.) The show stages things accordingly to indicate the social relationships – when Jenner sits apart from the group having dinner (Daryl, naturally, ranges around the edges and never sits at the table), or when Hershel's disapproval at the mixing of the two groups enforces a stony silence at the table, we feel in our gut that something is wrong. Joe's group do not share food among themselves; alarm bells (metaphorically) start going off when Rick&co are handed Terminus's BBQ and you viscerally do not want them to eat it (even before it's revealed what it is, even before they catch sight of their people's stuff being used by the Terminus people). But thus far there isn't a theme specific to the show's themes that's being signified in addition.

And yes, indeedy, in the few times Daryl actually interacts with water, the Dixon contra-theme is ducking and weaving and redneck-ninjaing him toward humanity over survival. It's fairly rare, but invariably pointed, nearly always a practical solution to a problem (rather than a posing of any kind of question), and usually paired with the signs motif, which is otherwise fairly unusual. He wets and offers the rag to clean Rick's appearance back to something more human for Carl's sake (and this just after trying to give his own life in place of Rick's, and right before trying to absolve him by saying anyone would have done what he just did; both of the cleansing attempts are only very partially accepted by Rick). When Beth declares she needs a drink in their makeshift bare-minimum SUCK-ASS camp, he tosses a water bottle at her without looking or stopping munching on the "snake jerky" he caught and cooked them; she is not talking about water or caring about survival and takes off on a decidedly non-life-and-death quest, which as noted drags him out of his uber-survivalist funk and back to his humanity, to all the things that matter. When assessing the dust-free "stash" of food which they later come across, with several full jugs of water, he notes the person who put it there could still be alive and therefore they'd only take some, and leave the rest, to which Beth asserts she was right and there are still good people left in the world (unconfirmed). When on a run to get medicine for the stricken prison, having lost their car, amid Michonne and Tyreese grappling with needing revenge for the slaughtering of those they loved, and the walkers of the group-suicided family that owned the mechanic shop they're at, Daryl is sourcing a battery to replace the dead one in the car outside
Bob — Cells look pretty dry.
Daryl — A lil' distilled water'll clear that right up.
and brings the car back to life, whilst counselling Bob not to blame himself for the deaths that occurred on the last run they went on, pointing out that he and Michonne were the ones who chose that spot in the first place. (Daryl, counsellor extraordinaire:
*squint* That's bullshit.)
When he plunges down the ravine into the river and is nearly killed, both by his own arrow and then walkers (he then uses the hunting arrow that he survived to kill them; Daryl's past = symbolism liek whoa), he has just found Sophia's doll and there's no question whatsoever in his mind – even confronted with Merle's jeering hallucination – of whether to give up on Sophia or his own life, or even recognise that there's any choice between the two; meanwhile giving a demonstration of survival drive as pure as Merle cutting off his own hand, as pure we've yet seen it. (This, before returning to the farm – with the doll still tucked in his belt – and being mistaken for a walker, and surviving being shot in the head.) Arguing with Merle over whether a nearby creek is the Yellow Jacket is entirely a question of direction, nothing to do with life and death, until they get to it and see a family on the roadbridge about to be overwhelmed by walkers; the only question we see Daryl have the entire time is whether to let Merle loot them, after Daryl led them both into the fight and saved the family's lives. (The answer is no.) As they leave the bridge, we see the sign that tells us Daryl was right, it was Yellow Jacket. Basically: it's not a question, it's never a choice, you just figure it out and get on and fucking do.

Signs motif:
Which brings us to the signs motif, the written kind or the indication/evidence kind, which simply signals the activity of humans, and, not always but often, questions of guidance – what direction to take/pursue (hence showing up more often when the group is on the move). Every pre-apocalypse sign is useless, and occasionally dangerous; for example, the map that is first used to "properly organise" the search for Sophia later becomes the reason Lori, looking down to check it, misses the walker in the middle of the road and crashes the car (contra-theme: the pre-apocalypse Yellow Jacket sign later serves to tell us that Daryl's pre-apocalypse-learned tracking was correct (Daryl's past! symbolism!), but he had no need of it at any point). Only signs people have issued since the apocalypse are relevant (except one; we'll get to that), and still only useful as much as you can interpret them; so when we see that map at the beginning of S3, it's covered in notations about the movements of the walker hordes to help Rick's itinerant group navigate them, while the group stands around it and each give their two cents to Rick, who then decides and gives out directions (... except Daryl fucking contra-theme Dixon, who suggests Rick come hunt with him, which then leads the two of them to the prison (on the other side of the creek) and Rick's decision to take it).

S4 really ramped up the written-signs motif once the group is scattered. With the signs to Terminus, it becomes obvious that, just like anything else in human communication, signs can not just be misleading but deliberately lie. However, that doesn't mean they can't still be useful – even before Maggie started smearing messages to Glenn in walker blood, she knew that if he saw the signs to Terminus, he would go there looking for her, knowing she would do the same thing, and she was right. However, it's Sasha, with the disastrous experience of seeking sanctuary in Woodbury, who accurately reads the sign(s):
If it sounds too good to be true....
It's life experience that teaches people the familiarity and context to "read the signs". Between the children's happy drawings of Walker Nick, and Lizzie's erratic reactions to human and walker deaths, there were quite a few signs of what was happening with her – and Mika, with her lifelong experience of her sister, had no trouble reading them – but while Carol could see them she only knew how to read them through the experience of losing Sophia, until it was too late. (Mika, incidentally, giving Carol a quick lesson in how to read the fire situation from the smoke they see rising in the distance, as well as earlier identifying for Carol that Lizzie's not weak, she's Messed Up; Carol, who hasn't yet learned to read the difference between her dead daughter and her live ones (the other one of whom similarly can't read the signs of a fire that's died out) would have done well to remember the adage where there's smoke there's fire and maybe could stand to take a closer look at the things Lizzie's been saying and doing.)

Another factor of navigating by signs is that, no matter how useful, without periodic checking and re-evaluating as they pertain to your new position as you go forward (tying back to the necessity to do the same for humanity-vs-survival), it's going to steer you off-course. The most fascinating example of which being The Governor, wandering aimlessly after Woodbury, seeing messages spraypainted on the side of a barn. His eye (hurr) lingers on
Brian Heriot   we're at Home---Meet us---we Love you   Brian Heriot
amongst the other names and messages; when he runs into Lilly and Meghan, he gives himself the name Brian Heriot – someone who, though nothing/no one else was left to do or aim for, was loved by his family. And, having taken that identity, finds he cannot bring himself to relinquish it by refusing the needs of this new vulnerable loving family, can't keep from taking on the role of loving father to Meghan, sharing in/protecting her innocent play (and knocking boots with Lilly while he's at it). Which, of course, careens into a catastophic wreck for everyone involved, because he cannot let go of the fresh chance of Brian's new fauxmily; every time, he is looking back and steering by the identity of a man who was loved (thus taking us through a very rapid replay of what his original ascent (descent) from average, loving family man into The Governor must have looked like). Meanwhile, the post-apocalypse lack of checking/upkeep has buried the very relevant pre-apocalypse sign
leading The Governor – going by the signs he's learned to read of post-apocalypse patterns – to declare the area safe because it's by the water; when Meghan unearths the sign in her innocent mud-pie play in the mudslide, she also releases the literally-stuck-in-the-mud walker that kills her (symbolism!).

Dixon contra-theme: Yeah, okay. Daryl's a tracker/hunter; signs are far more about survival decisions for him, and with the apocalypse didn't so much as skip a beat, it makes no difference. He's always reading signs for what direction to take/pursue, especially since even when the group's settled he's still ranging out on search missions or supply runs. Nor is there anything to suggest he ever stops reading the signs with people (barring his time with Joe's merry band, which we'll get to in the next part), even if he's not usually inclined to do much of anything about what he reads (ie, Shane's story about Otis). Aside from Yellow Jacket, using the map to more efficiently search for Sophia (succeeding in finding her doll, correctly interpreting that if she's up there, he'd find her – she wasn't, and he didn't), and reading off the (pre-apocalypse!) labels of Merle's antibiotic stash to save T-Dog, the only time he has any interaction with a written sign is Hershel's list of medicine to fetch from the veterinary college:
Bob (a medic) — Y'really want me comin' along?
Daryl — *pats pockets, pulls out list, shows it to Bob* What's that word?
Bob — "Zanamivir".
Daryl — *knowing the value of someone who is fluent in the signs* Yep, we need ya.
The one single time he actually entertains/accepts someone's reading of the signs over his own is Beth's interpretation of why someone would be embalming walkers in the funeral home (edit: ... ohh. That's right, there's also a headstone and a thank-you note), factoring it into his assessment of maybe being able to work something out with them. The narrative hasn't yet told us (might not ever) if she was right; as with Bob, Daryl judges her more fluent in the signs than he is, in this case the signs of "good people", but also like Bob that doesn't guarantee that she can correctly act on them. Either way, it did swiftly punish him for letting his guard down. Still, there's some hope to cling to for Beth's fate (she said, hollowly, knowing what show she's watching) since from taking her first drink in a Dixon-approved moonshiner's shack to setting herself to learn as much as she could from Daryl, she miiight have just managed to sneak in under the aegis of the contra-theme (in which case, the red cross sign in the back window of the car that took her might maybe actually pleasegod be played straight).
Beth — Are we close?
Daryl — Almost done.
Beth — How do you know?
Daryl — Signs are all there. Y'just gotta know how to read'um.
(ATTENTION VIEWERS: You like Daryl? You think he's cool? Badass? Why not be like him. He's TRYING TO TELL YOU SOMETHING ASDFGHJKL;LKJHGFDS HEADDESK.)
Beth — What are we trackin'?
Daryl — You tell me. You're the one that wanted to learn.
Beth — Well, something came through here. But the pattern's all zig-zaggy.... It's a walker!
Daryl — Maybe it's a drunk.
Beth — I'm gettin' good at this. Pretty soon I won't need you at all!
Daryl — Yeah. Keep on trackin'.

Aaaaaanndd ... and fucking fuck me, FINE. (How do these get so long?) Part three, soon. I hope.


( 16 speakses — have a speak )
Oct. 19th, 2014 08:09 am (UTC)
You're my favourite. :)

I love reading all your thoughts because a) super interesting, and b) just... man, the show is even MOAR complex and impressively constructed once it's all laid out there right in front of me. ILU show.

The time thing is an interesting one... particularly around Glenn and Maggie (/rampant speculation)... because if we assume that Hershel giving the watch to Glenn was indeed, in conjunction with the Falkner story, Hershel giving Glenn (and by extension Maggie) the gift of time, it also really does underscore, as you say, that it's not going to last. That it's the gift of the temporary release from time's tyranny, that once you let the moment go by you can never get it back.

I may be reading too much into things (don't care), but Glenn lost the watch. Or rather, it was taken from him. He was, in a way, marked for time to run out. And last we saw, Maggie had it. I just... I'm developing a very, very bad feeling about Glenn, with all his 'this is still who we are, it has to be' in the context of a season that sharply seemed to indicate that actually, our folks are too far gone....... Oh Glenn. /o\ Gah, we shall see.

On the water stuff.... I had completely missed all that, but you make a very compelling motif case! :)

The only time the water signifcance thing DID strike me, was Farmer!Rick splashing himself before he heads out to the field - that kind of baptismal/sin-cleansing image, to accompany the spiritually cleansing exercise in farming and (ultimately doomed to fail) moral hmm... redemption? I guess? That once OUTSIDE the prison, there's no time and no point trying to be (physically or morally) clean. And that to use water for that purpose (even, to try and uphold some kind of morality/humanity) is a waste, to waste what will help you survive (ie, representing one's willingness to jettison that morality and do what has to be done to survive, to be 'unclean').

The fact that the season bookends with Rick covered in blood (and accepting that side of himself), and his initial reaction to Daryl suggesting he clean it off ('we should save it') and the fact that the meagre water they have at their disposal now isn't near enough to clean off all that dried blood anyway (except that, miraculously, he is cleaned up in the next scene WHEN HE IS TALKING TO MICHONNE AND TELLING HER HE'S OK, AND SHE'S SAYING SHE KNOWS AND HE'S LIKE HOW, AND SHE'S LIKE, BECAUSE I'M OK IE. SHE IS ABSOLVING HIM OF WHAT HE DID BY APPROVING/ACCEPTING THE LEGITIMACY OF WHAT HE DID, THEREFORE CLEANSING HIM OF GUILT/SHAME, AND LOOK I AM NOT BLIND TO THE ARGUABLY SHIPPY SUBTEXT HERE IS ALL I AM SAYING :DDDDDD) - just means that the subtext so beautifully and completely mirrors the text, right?

ILU SHOW. SO much.

The signs stuff, particularly as pertains to Daryl.... I love you and your brain, woman :D That is so awesome.

Because finally... god bless you Daryl Dixon. I love how you're pulling out all his contra-theme stuff, btw, a lot of which I have to admit, I have not noticed as things go along :) I love how consistently the writers are pulling him in that opposite direction... But look, if it is a redemptive arc, or at least one towards growing humanity, and whether or not that's going to mean Beth's right and he's the last man standing... but... If we assume the world is on an inevitable devolutionary path (by no means assured tho, Eugene may actually be on to something), it would seem a particularly cruel outcome/reward/end point for all his contra-theming, if he were to end up the last human left in a sea of walkers, having started if not the only, then certainly sometimes alone as a redneck asshole in (and rejected by) a sea of broader human society. With the linking point of both start and end being, (despite Merle, and for all real intents and purposes) all alone. Again.

That... is just too heartbreaking to contemplate. But then, it is The Walking Dead, so....

/o\ DARYL!

*tries to stop self worrying about stuff that will probably never happen and in any case is fictional*

Edited at 2014-10-19 08:16 am (UTC)
Oct. 20th, 2014 07:44 am (UTC)

I just wanted to say, the more I think about it, the more hopeful I am for Beth, actually. Because I was trying to figure out how the time motif with Daryl restarting the clock went further than just the dog (which seemed a bit too weaksauce to be the full story), and might factor into him running into Rick again as the this state won't last thing. And it wasn't until today that I remembered how he yelled at Beth about how everyone else may as well be dead because the two of them were never gonna see them again, and specifically how he namechecks exactly two people: "an' Rick – you ain't NEVER gonna see Maggie again!" (their respective older siblings, which, upon him reuniting with Rick, Rick makes "official"), and, BINGO BANGO, assumptions about how things would continue. And still contra-themed, since he, unlike everyone else so far, assumes the bad circumstances will continue, and takes steps – like trying to find new community with weirdo morticians – to alleviate it; and it's the steps he should but can't bring himself take that unwittingly makes things better by reuniting him to Rick, Michonne and Carl, and then ultimately everyone else (but Beth).

AND ALSO BETH, following not just in Daryl's footsteps, but FIRST deciding to follow in her father's footsteps, to go get a freakin' drink in order to deal with this life (like he did after her mother was killed, as opposed to her actively trying to give up living, as was also referenced by Daryl in the episode). And then, as she sets herself to toughening up/learning to survive as much as Daryl can teach her, what happens – she gets "bit" on her right leg/ankle. And keeps fighting and then doing her best to keep walking (in spite of Daryl's overcorrecting NO MORE HURT LOST DEAD GIRLS I'LL JUST *CARRY* HER) on it. If Maggie has obliquely inherited the watch through both Daryl-dubbed "tough sumbitch"s, then Beth has gone out and claimed her "tough sumbitch" inheritance for herself. I AM ENCOURAGED.
Oct. 20th, 2014 08:04 am (UTC)
UM I LIKE THIS VERY MUCH. Oh yes, I will happily subscribe to this newsletter, please and thank you.

Also, y'know what, apart from my previously mentioned reasons, I am *also* inclined to think Beth is going to be ok precisely because she *is* arguably the physically weakest still-standing member of the group. With, I guess, the exception of Judi, except that Judi has the benefit of literally every member of the pack in her vicinity looking out for her, not least of which include her father, brother, de facto big bro Daryl. I mean, talk about a pretorian guard. But I digress. Beth.

Because she's arguably the physically weakest member, and because you and I at least, know that show is not stupid... Show is not going to separate off the weakest member of the pack only to kill her. I don't think. Because... well, frankly kinda too predictable and boring.

...but see, now that I've gone and said that out loud... the fact that this group is so pack like, is now making me worry that show has deliberately picked off and isolated the most vulnerable member of the group, cheetah-n-wilderbeast-style, in order to kill her off, and the pack must keep going rather than sacrifice the survival of the whole for the one....




Hang on. No. I was forgetting the new people. Governor's sister in law is far and away less capable than Beth. PHEW. Even Eugene, for that matter. Arguably Bob. And now I'm also remembering all the arguments I've previously made as to why Beth isn't weak anyway...

Ok... breathing returning to normal... I... I'm just going to leave this crazy stream of consciousness here on your step, cat-present style. *pokes it with stick* I'm sorry? :/
Oct. 20th, 2014 08:15 am (UTC)
Listen, if you don't stop apologising, I WILL slap you with the Salmon of Ridicule. I HAVE A WHOLE FISH PLATTER.

That's the thing, though – as determined as she was to change, to become capable of not needing Daryl, as long as he was there, he was NEVER gonna let her have to learn to walk on her own (SYMBOLISM OK), as he did, never relying on anyone for anything. EVEN THOUGH SHE'S HEAVIER THAN SHE LOOKS BECAUSE DESPITE APPEARANCES SHE'S NOT JUST A LITTLE GIRL ANYMORE, SHE IS GROWING UP. This was the only way she could finish her metamorphosis. And he his – they were each other's cocoon. AND NOW THEY ARE BE-YEWTIFUL BUTTERFLIES. BE-YEWTIFUL BADASS TOUGH SUMBITCH BUTTERFLIES YES THEY ARE.
Oct. 20th, 2014 08:19 am (UTC)


b) *deep breaths* Yep, totally. Ok. This is ok. I'm feeling calmer again now. *moar deep breaths* (BEEEEEETTHHHHHHHH!!!)
Oct. 21st, 2014 08:12 am (UTC)
... Miiiiind you, that's really no guarantee of what state she'll be in, just because she's still alive; the changes in her will undoubtedly also bring consequences.

show has deliberately picked off and isolated the most vulnerable member of the group, cheetah-n-wilderbeast-style,
Arguably Bob.

... yeeeeah, I think you MIGHT JUST MAYBE BE TOTALLY BANG-ON, I don't think we need worry about THAT being HER fate. :D (Poor Bob.... Poor, poor WildeBob. :DDD Sorry. Had to edit to add that. I AM A SLAVE TO TERRIBLE PUNNING NOW APPARENTLY.)

Mind you, I also think Eugene is in the unenviable position this season of being in competition with Judith for her pretorian guard/pack to "carry" him. Whether he'll survive that (AND IT BETTER NOT BE A MATCHED-PAIR SITUATION, although I can't put that eventual outcome for Judith beyond what this show might be willing to do) remains to be seen.

Edited at 2014-10-21 12:31 pm (UTC)
Nov. 2nd, 2014 10:01 am (UTC)
Oh!! Except ALSO, re Judi/Eugene as a matched pair...

TOTALLY. Because they both represent the two possible futures of humanity.
Either: we work out how to stop/reverse the zombie virus and get back some semblance of the life we used to live (Eugene).
OR: we simply have to accept that this is the new world order, adapt to it, become the children of it, simply surviving against the odds as best we can for as long as we can (Judi).

.... And bugger me if I know which of those futures(/characters) I want to win out. Because I'd choose Judith over Eugene, but cure over new zombie world order. ... But it also firms up for me the suspicion that show WILL be prepared to go down the 'there is no cure' route. With Judith as poster girl (kiiiiiiinda the way Hera was kinda supposed to be the symbol of things to come for the post-Cylon War BSG world... I think... except she apparently died as a small child, thank you fossil record and RDM. ... ahem. ANYWAY...).
Nov. 3rd, 2014 03:51 am (UTC)
OH AND yes, all this. (Although I'm still not quite prepared to put them in formal matched-pair status, although that could just be wishful thinking on my part /o\) But mostly I just want to say that I've begun to feel like TWD is like the universe making it up to us for BSG. Cos dude. By the end there, RDM's storytelling was caught so far out in that rip, that wasn't waving, that was drowning.
Nov. 3rd, 2014 12:38 pm (UTC)
Yeahhhh, see... s'ok. I'll call 'em a matched pair enough for the both of us for now, then, shall I? ;) But also /o\
And YES. THIS IS TOTALLY the universe making it up to us for BSG. *grumble grumble I wish he had freakin drowed before he managed to swim so far up shit creek grumble grumble*
Oct. 26th, 2014 02:14 am (UTC)
I may be reading too much into things (don't care), but Glenn lost the watch. Or rather, it was taken from him. He was, in a way, marked for time to run out. And last we saw, Maggie had it. I just... I'm developing a very, very bad feeling about Glenn

Firstly, I'm not sure it's possible to read too much into things on this show. And secondly – Dude. Glenn is EFFED. If we go by previous seasons' patterns, by mid-season, along with one or more of Abe, Gabe, or Gareth. But maybe they're feeling generous and will give him until the end of the season. (That's assuming the show doesn't mix up its MO, of course; I'm curious what role Tara will play, if any, in the Glenn/Maggie situation going forward; there's some kind of mild sister-pair preoccupation the show has, but I don't know quite what to make of it yet.)

Just a huge YIP YIP YIP UH-HUH-UH-HUH to aaaaaaaaalll your Rick thoughts. AND MICHONNE. That whole thing, and the inversion of Lori/Rick in the same position (and, more distantly, the inversion of Michonne/Mike), showing how far Rick had come, just incredible. And it was the natural conclusion, in a way, to their first real bonding over seeing/talking to dead people. It's like, yep, we've both been broken by this world. But ... we're also okay. What this world has stripped us back to, the things that have been revealed lurking inside ourselves, the things we are, we can live with being. (Until the next excruciating peeling cycle begins. IT'S LIKE THIS *NOW*, THAT'S ENOUGH.)

As for Daryl, and being utterly alone, well ... I guess. Other than the mental break style seeing dead people thing, there's also been Tyreese and Carol's musings on how they might be "haunted", the way the dead stay with us. For them, it's the horrific side of it, the lives lost and the pieces of their own humanity they lost with them, whether their love or their moral innocence – and then vice versa when it came to Lizzie, because while Carol did it, Tyreese is complicit and carrying that around too, and he knows it. But with Daryl, IF he's left Last Man Standing, then the lives that haunt him will be carried in the humanity he's been given by everyone he's loved and who loved him. Even the loss of Merle ultimately helped him along that path. Sad, yes, but not tragic – in fact the opposite – when framed by the fact that death is always inevitable.

Though I don't really know that I see it going that way. I'm very, very curious to see if they follow through on the self-sacrifice thread, how and when and why, and see if that comes at any kind of appreciable peak humanity for Daryl – and what point they consider him to have reached it. Although since he is such a useful counterweight, I wouldn't expect them to lose him too long before the end of the series. (Again, all these calculations dependent on whether the current trends continue, or if they're going to take it somewhere else.)

... MAN, viewing this series just through the "survival" lens is depressing. No wonder people get so bummed.
Nov. 2nd, 2014 09:55 am (UTC)
... MAN, viewing this series just through the "survival" lens is depressing. No wonder people get so bummed.
....inorite? yeeesh.

Good points re: Daryl. And yeah, look, whatever DOES happen to him, I can't see him disappearing until the end or very close to. He's just too useful from a story (and, let's be mercenary about this for a moment, ratings and show popularity) perspective.

Dude. Glenn is EFFED.
He..... he really is, isn't he? I've been trying to actively avoid spoilers, because no matter how I started out with this show... I can't fight it. I'm a don't-watch-spoiled girl at heart. But even so, there's been some general chatter leaking across my field of vision again which is sheer speculation, but... yes. Things are not looking good for poor old Glenn. /o\ But hey! Gareth, meet red handled machete. Machete, meet Gareth... and holy hell, that scene, right? ... I should go talk about that on the appropriate entry though...

SO! Wildebob!! LOLING 5EVA :DDD Poor Bob, but lol. Yeah, when that happened, there was a moment of *phewbeth*, and I did kinda love that Bob got his TAINTED MEAT revenge moment... although I'm a little surprised we didn't get a little longer for that/the Hunter storyline to play out before, well... the epic walker-esque massacre, because 'we didn't want to waste the bullets'... which is really all I was going to say about that scene really, so look, I'll just say it here - just... another step down that devolutionary spiral, right? This is how we kill walkers. Now this is how we kill people like you. And a possible schism in the group there too - between Rick/Michonne/Sasha/Abraham and Maggie/Glenn(SOB)/Tyrese... and now that Glenn and Maggie have left, I just.... OH GOD.

As for Beth....

Wanna know my latest speculatory thoughts? Bad luck, imma tell you anyway.

I suspect this week's episode is going to be the 'So where's Beth been' ep, and I woner if they're not going to do it in the style of the 'Governor appears watching the prison at end of ep, next two eps flashback in time and tell story of what happened between last time we saw him and getting to that moment'.

ie... I suspect they'll show us Beth back after being separated from Daryl in a place that is seriously going to (welp) f(&% her up, and the process of the aforementioned f*&%ing up. I think she WILL eventually be rescued by Daryl and Carol, and she's the one hiding in those bushes at the end of the last ep, with Carol, because she's been so damaged by the experience that she's seriously not ok. And then the story becomes about how she adapts/the group deals with etc etc and etc and so on. There may be stuff there about the fact Maggie didn't actively look for her... but I kinda hope not. :( Altho... gah, there are no good options really.

But because I love her to pieces, I think Beth'll come out the other side eventually, more or less... just very, very changed. /o\

Nov. 2nd, 2014 01:43 pm (UTC)
the fact Maggie didn't actively look for her...

... OhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhMG. EXCUSE ME I HAVE AN EDIT TO MAKE. (At the bottom of the post. And I adore you and I will be back at a more civilised hour.)
Nov. 2nd, 2014 10:58 pm (UTC)

Like, the fact WE knew Beth was with Daryl I think masked it, because WE knew Beth was with someone who was going to do their best to keep her safe. ... But the fact is, Maggie was so focused on Glenn (GLENN GO TO TERMINUS), like she'd... well... maybe even just subconsciously thought... 'Beth'll be dead already. Glenn is a survivor who woulda survived, but Beth...' And meanwhile Beth's off going, 'I miss Maggie, I miss the way she used to boss me round, I used to dream of her and Glenn havin' kids' etc etc...

And meanwhile, I reckon Beth's going to survive where Glenn is not. And I can't see Maggie's NOT looking for her, well, NOT coming up. Welp. /o\ And I adore you too. :)
Nov. 2nd, 2014 11:57 pm (UTC)
YES TOTALLY. And I think you're absolutely right, it'll be Beth (and Carol hanging back protectively with her?) hiding while Daryl makes sure things are okay before she comes out. And that this episode will be a flashback instead. I never even thought of that! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh BETH NOOO /o\

Re: Maggie, yeah, I mean, she said very early on with Sasha and Bob that she had absolutely no leads on Beth but she did on Glenn, since she had thought he was in the bus, hence it made sense to make him her priority. And I think you're right, she subconsciously probably did start to think that. Although as of everyone meeting up in A, she knows that last Daryl knows, Beth is still alive. Glenn made the offer to Abraham without, as far as we could tell, consulting Maggie, and she's loyal to him and she's backing him (she burned the photo! he'll never need it again! – and we can probably assume Glenn knows she's supportive if not committed to the DC mission), but she was also revolted at Rick's and the group's bloodthirstiness (having watched her father's head get hacked off probably didn't help with that). All of which to say, it does make sense of her going with Glenn with Abraham, but at the same time, she'd learned through Bob that Daryl and Carol had driven off, so that had to have at least raised the question of Beth for her. I WILL JOIN YOU IN YOUR /o\
Nov. 3rd, 2014 03:39 am (UTC)
Wanna know my latest speculatory thoughts? Bad luck, imma tell you anyway.


(By the way, don't take my censoring of my swearing in one or two instances as a cue to do the same if you don't want; it seems monkey-fighting monday-to-friday is my own personal line in the salty sand for what I'll casually sling around – and saying "Glenn is FUCKED" just seemed so harsh /o\ (BUT HE IS THO) – but I don't have a problem with others going as blue as they feel appropriate :))

I'm a little surprised we didn't get a little longer for that/the Hunter storyline to play out
And then the story becomes about how she adapts/the group deals with etc etc

Ohhhhhh but here's the thing (other than the whole Maggie angle, which the show has helpfully split off to deal with separately and later), I'm now pretty sure it's going to be an extension. Not of the Hunters themselves, that's done, and SO SATISFACTORILY, YES that scene, ALL THE THINGS you said, LOVE IT. But this is the return of Rick the Sheriff, riding into town (what up, S1!). Dealing with people who are behaving like animals (Merle!), taking on that role for himself even when he asserts there's no rules anymore – he's strong, and moral, enough to be The Guy in those situations. Like, I was assuming the Beth rescue mission-vs-cure was going to be the dilemma, but of course it's not (that's so four seasons ago), it's the choice between the greater world-rescue mission and justice. After all, the world's gonna need Rick Grimes. (He makes sure to point out that along with his promise, he'd never let Gareth go because it wasn't just *human* vengeance Gareth was carrying out by eating Bob, he'd do that to anyone now (*animal*!), and, despite all the detours of the last few seasons, Rick is still the guy who's not going to let that go.) If whatever happened to Beth is distinctly little-girl related (Daryl's right eye suggests yes), then Judith-as-the-future is all the more reason to go stamp that out(/plus rescue other girls?), on an emotional level if not a logical one. (– Which is to say, not that it's not a logical choice to make, but the emotional impetus of saving-the-world for Judith's sake and saving-little-girls for Judith's sake is more even.) (For Tyreese, too, while we're at it, since he's the one most visibly struggling with that. Hopefully they've got some interesting conflicts in store for Gabriel, there, too.)

Although, just in terms of the pacing, I really appreciate how clearly they've set up just how incredibly efficient and BAMF the group has become (because just because I love the other aspects of the human condition, I do NOT mind some hardcore BADASS when it's earned, and boy howdy has this group earned it). I love how quickly Gareth&co was dispatched – both times – and I really hadn't got up to speed, literally, with realising that OF COURSE Carol and Daryl were up to a rescue mission all on their twosies without needing backup. If it goes like I think, it's the possible all-out war Rick's gonna wage to rescue/exterminate that's gonna be the thing that's big enough to really challenge him and his BAMF pack.



Edited at 2014-11-03 03:43 am (UTC)
Nov. 3rd, 2014 12:35 pm (UTC)
While I wait for the magical television fairy to actually freakin work godammit not on a Monday ffs holy HELL why universe WHYYYYYYYYYYY... ahem.

don't take my censoring of my swearing in one or two instances as a cue to do the same if you don't want
Well. :) Look, I take an extremely ad hoc and changeable approach to my sweariness, depending mostly on the mood I'm in and whether I'm having a 'I should really try and swear less' kinda day... So I'm wildly inconsistent, as you've probably gathered. But I certainly appreciate the permission and it's DEFINITELY good to know I'm not offending. Sincerely. :)

it's the choice between the greater world-rescue mission and justice.
mmmmm-hmm. uuuuhh-hhuh. yiiiipyipyipyipyipyipyip uuuuhh-huh /sesame street aliens ftmfw :D Indeed. And AIN'T the world just gon' need Rick Grimes. (RICK! \o/... ahem.) EVERYTHING you just said there. I'm so with you.

And the pacing too - I keep being surprised by how quickly they're burning through plotlines, but you're absolutely right - of course there's a gathering momentum to the ruthless efficiency with which they dispatch these threats now. And I kinda love the show for being brave about that too, k'know? Like, oh-ho! Terminus is totally going to be a big deal, right? NUH! They're OUTTA THERE SUKKAZ!!! Oh wait, the Termites are back as Hunters?? NOPE! YOU DIDN'T NEED THAT HEAD, RIGHT GAZ? DIDN'T THINK SO. Just... holy moly relentless. And of course pacing is historically ANOTHER thing this show's copped crap for, and yet which I have, with the only exception being the TWO Governor backstory eps (Fine. One. I can understand the necessity of one. But TWO? TWO you guys? Don't do that to me.) always loved too. But wow I'd love to see anyone complain about the pacing now. (I lie. Actually I wouldn't like to see that. It would drive me nuts. You know what I mean.)

Oh show. You have my heart. How a zombie show managed to burrow its way so deep in there I have no earthly idea. I did not see this coming, but here we are.

And yes. I really feel I should say, given all the bitching I've been doing.... OH YES, DON'T GET ME WRONG, I ALSO VERY MUCH ENJOY MY PEOPLE BEING BAMFs. BECAUSE THEY IN FACT ARE. They're just, as you and I know, MOAR than just BAMFs. :D And omg, I know this is the wrong spot, but as I'm here... yes. I think I was possibly more excited about the katana finding its way home to Michonne than she was. Like you say: very happy she could let it go, but REALLY GLAD SHE DIDN'T, in the end, HAVE TO. WOO!

Oh, and as for all your Maggie thoughts - yup. More sesame street aliens. TOTAL AGREEMENT HERE. GAH. I can't wait to see how this plays out, but at the same time, ALL OF THE /o\.... *bites nails* This show is so bad for my blood pressure...

*glares more at television fairy*
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