Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Walking Dead: Them

Here it is. My first blog. I've been toying with the idea of setting up a blog for sometime. Call it setting up my platform, call it sharing my ideas, call it... insanity. I'm sitting at my kitchen counter banging away at my keys in a seemingly random way, my kids are running amok, there's dishes piled in the sink, and it's freezing outside. So, hey why not start a blog, right? Let's just dive right in. I'd love to say that I'm kicking back. "Be Cool..."

But really, I'm just...

So what do I plan on doing for my blog? We all love tv shows, shoot I think I have a man crush on Stephen Amell and don't get me started on the general hotness of Lauren Cohen. Shows are great way to pass the time and entertainment, but what I like to do is to peel back the layers and dig a little deeper. Every author, director, or screenwriter loves to put in those dreaded literary elements we learned in school: symbols, allusions, or even allegory. Like Shrek says, it's like an onion, you just have to peel back the layers. Seriously though, I'd rather go with Donkey and eat a parfait.

For today's entry, I'd love to discuss this week's The Walking Dead (5.10: "Them")

This week's episode had so much juicy content, some of which was discussed on The Talking Dead. Maybe one day the nerdist himself, Chris Hardwick, will invite me onto his couch to discuss my thoughts on the show. Anyway, "Them" is filled with symbols and allusions. They could be used to foreshadow upcoming episodes, or just show how smart the shows crew is: Scott M. Gimple, Greg Nicotero, and Robert Kirkman are like, "Hey kiddies...

Let's start with the group, they seem to be on some sort of exodus to D.C. Wait, did I say exodus???? You're darn right I did. This episode is fraught with allusions to the Jews exodus from Egypt. When I first watched the episodes, there were some things that stood out to me as strange. In the opening scenes, Sasha is walking in what looks like a dried up creek. Initially, I took it for what it was. The group is running out of water and they are distraught.

What about the frogs? They don't have food or water. Why doesn't Sasha collect some frogs and have Darryl fry 'em up! But, she doesn't. So they have to be there for some reason.

Insert first allusion:

8.2 “And if thou refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all thy borders with frogs”

Of course, this scene isn't exactly word for word from the Book of Exodus, but it's The Walking Dead people! Ok, ok, one scene with some dried up croakers may not be enough to sway your mind. I mean I can stick a feather up my butt, it doesn't make me a chicken. (Thank you Fight Club for that line).

Shortly after this scene, Father Gabriel talks God with Maggie, but she doesn't want to hear it. The once pious Maggie has lost faith in God. Let's get all ELA on this for a second. What is the author's purpose of this scene? Looking at the overall structure of this episode, it's purpose is to set up the religious themes and images that pervade the episode. 

Let's find some more allusions. As Darryl walks off into the woods, the camera focuses on what looks like a cicada:

Ok, so what does a Cicada have to do with the Plagues of the Exodus. Well, a cicada is often referred to or confused with a Locust: "Cicadas are often colloquially called locusts" (Wikipedia)This brings us to our a second allusion: 

10:4 "Else, if thou refuse to let my people go, behold, to morrow will I bring the locusts into thy coast"

The next plague I looked at dealt with the passage: 

"9:3 Behold, the hand of the LORD is upon thy cattle which is in the field, upon the horses, upon the asses, upon the camels, upon the oxen, and upon the sheep: there shall be a very grievous murrain."

This passage refers to diseased animals. There really could have been three scenes that could have dealt with this passage. One: As Darryl is alone in the woods, he sees a deer that has rotted through, the spine is even showing. Of course, one could look at all the walkers as the diseased creatures, but that is a little too convenient. I think the diseased creatures are the dogs that come to attack: 

Ok, ok, maybe I'm looking to deep into this. Maybe it's just a tv show that's meant to entertain us. But, if that's the case, why does the episode zoom in on this: 

Bam! The religious themes are undeniable. Maggie, Sasha, Darryl, and even Father Gabriel all

question their purpose in this episode to the point that Father Gabriel throws his collar into the fire. Albeit, they were eating dog. Maggie is grieving over Beth's death. Lauren Cohen discussed the symbols that relate to Beth on the Talking Dead (The kidnapped walker and the music box). Sasha doesn't know how much longer she can go on. When all seems lost, they skies open, and most of the crew are happy and laughing. Rosita and Tara lie on the ground giggling like a couple of kids. Father Gabriel apologizes to God for questioning him. It's like there's that small sense of hope, just not to Maggie Sasha and Darryl. 

The three of them are miserable, and it doesn't look like they are going to be able to bounce back from everything that happened to them. Maybe they all knew that it wasn't going to be just a regular rain storm, maybe, just maybe, it's another reference to the Exodus.

9:18 "Behold, to morrow about this time I will cause it to rain a very grievous hail, such as hath not been in Egypt since the foundation thereof even until now."  

After Rick's rousing speech, the crew finally understands that they need to work together or they won't make it. In a moving scene, the crew all hold the doors to the barn shut as a herd of walkers try to crash the party. Miraculously, they survive the relentless attack of the walkers, but how?

The scene ends and it's a new day, Maggie and Sasha walk out to see that the storm or possible tornado saved them from the heard of walkers. 

Was it divine intervention? Was it similar to the parting of the Red Sea for Moses? It could be. What does it all mean though? Well I have two thoughts on that, and they could go either way. First, it's the light at the end of the tunnel (or the light at the end of the forest). When the Red Sea parted for Moses all their enemies were killed in its wake. Same thing happened here. A force of nature saved those on the exodus in both the show and The Bible. The group has completed their exodus and things may look up. (No comic spoilers, here...However Aaron is introduced in "Life with Them" and this episode was titled "Them"). Or could this foreshadow more plagues? The last plague of Egypt was the death of the firstborn. Has Judith scene her last days? She hasn't been seen since the prison in the comics, so it's not like she's essential to the plot. However, I tend to say no. I think Judith and Carl have a much bigger role to play in the new world and the salvation of mankind. 

That's it for today's post. I'm sure next week's Walking Dead will give me some fodder to discuss.