The Walking Dead: “Walk with Me”

walking dead walk with me

“Walk With Me”

This week’s episode is remarkable not only in its distinct change of setting, but in its strong political themes.  The setting is important because, at least at face value, it serves as a deliberate contrast to that of the previous episode.  The chaos our protagonists are experiencing at the prison, combined with the uncertainty of Lori’s impending delivery, creates an absolute disparity with most of the visuals offered in “Walk with Me.”

Michonne’s character (the enigmatic woman leading two undead by chains) enters much earlier in the graphic novel, but her purpose is the same.  She shows not only how fellow human beings can become means to an end (remember, her disarmed undead are fallen loved ones) but also how invisible any one individual can be in a given circumstance.  She uses her undead followers to fit in with the other undead; they serve to camouflage her so that she might survive in an unforgiving world.  Once their purpose has run its course, she has no problem disposing of them.  This is similar to their disposal in the graphic novel, in which she decapitates the two to gain entry into the prison.  In both, she kills them by necessity, although the choice appears much more grievous in the graphic novel.

Andrea’s and Michonne’s desire to remain hidden from the potential human threat is, quite obviously, inescapable.  The several months of relative safety Michonne’s captive undead have afforded them is useless against the organized effort they come across.  Meryl, the brother Darryl left behind—whom anyone watching the series also would have assumed dead by now—is a part of this group, which serves as the closest glimpse of civilization any of the survivors has so far encountered.

Unfortunately, Andrea and Michonne find themselves virtual captives, allowed the ruse of being “cared for” by a paternalistic leader who refers to himself simply as the Governor.  He establishes the submissive place held by the women in their group by coercing Andrea into thanking him for their apparent salvation.  There is a lovely juxtaposition of the American flag in this scene, contrasting American freedom with perceived freedom, begging the question: If there were a difference, would anyone be capable of perceiving it?

The scene in which the General and one of his men feed Andrea and Michonne says more than one might assume at first glance.  They talk about “taking back what’s [theirs]” while eating scrambled eggs.  Those scrambled eggs represent life—the very seed from which we all spring—and the fact that they’re scrambled represents just how jumbled and confused human civilization has become.

Speculation about Michonne’s seemingly trained undead is most telling in this episode.  The realization that disarming the enemy—by removing their arms and jaws—turns them docile is a fascinating thought given recent political clashes.  It seems too obvious a comparison to our country’s desire to disarm, and therefore to make docile, our political enemies for this theme to go without notice.  The Governor’s part in all of this is also too prominent to watch without speculation.  He mentions that “Rome wasn’t built in one day,” and that by “taking back what’s ours … we will rise again.”  While, in theory, this rhetoric is nearly poetic, when we learn at the end of the episode what kind of person the Governor truly is, we must consider just how complicated his idea of civilization, and in turn liberty itself, actually is.

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