Let me just say, I love The Walking Dead. What regular people called April to October, I called the “long pause.”
Seriously, nothing is more riveting than watching a zombie get a screwdriver in the eye, their face ripped off, or one of millions of epic headshots we’ve seen in the past two seasons. But, as we escalate into season three, a darker element begins to take shape and threaten Rick’s group: the human element. The first episode (spoilers! Did I mention spoilers? There’s spoilers) ends on the group finding a few survivors in the prison they infiltrate, and then in the second episode Rick sort of kills them off. The second episode ends on two disturbing cliff hangers: Carol, while giving a c-section to a dead girl, is being watched by a figure in the bushes. You feel it isn’t a walker watching her, but a person, and then you get the classic horror film feeling of a girl about to be stabbed to death by a voyeuristic psycho. Also, the preview for next week highlights the introduction of Michonne and Andrea meeting the infamous Governor.
If you don’t know the comics very well, the relationship that unfolds between Michonne and the Governor isn’t one that’s easy to look at. The comic takes the strongest female character – Michonne has an entirely separate cult following from the rest of the series for being so badass – and breaks her down to the worst subjugation of torture possible. Think Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Michonne gets her very graphic revenge, but you don’t feel better and you don’t feel like she’s been redeemed. The message this situation sends is that a strong woman is only truly strong when she comes back for revenge after being broken down in the worst ways. Michonne doesn’t just meet the Governor and take him the fuck out. First, she must endure the Governor, suffer, fight for her freedom, watch her loved ones die, and then seek revenge. Her story is the true story of a post-apocalyptic horror. Nobody is safe. Not the strong, not the weak. Killing zombies is a simple formula: Don’t get shy and aim for the head. Surviving mankind in a warzone is more complicated. If you need evidence of that, look at Liberia or Sudan. War is hell, and women and children die first.
What differentiates The Walking Dead from most zombie flicks is that it addresses moral issues, and zombies are put on the back burner. People are what is scary. The brutality and cruelty people become capable of when killing and dying are akin to blinking and swallowing is true horror. And if mankind looks like the Governor, I’d rather get bitten.
The series does show some character growth in the female characters, particularly Maggie and Carol who take on stronger roles in the group. But with the ending of the voyeur stalking Carol, and the introduction of the Governor, it seems that like Michonne, the strength and resilience of these women is being built to be broken, reminding us all that when the dead start walking, and the living go insane, a penis might be more useful than a gun.