Spoiler alert! The following entry discusses the events of Sunday’s season finale of AMC’s The Walking Dead.
It’s been a couple of decades since I read The Once and Future King, T.H. White’s philosophical study of the King Arthur legend. If I remember correctly, though, it was about 600 pages of pontification on the subject of “Might Makes Right.” On The Walking Dead, Deanna’s leadership philosophy may more closely align with Merlyn’s teachings, but can peace and order survive and succeed under constant attack? Is there a case to be made for Rick’s morally ambiguous “Might For Right” philosophy?
Moments before tuning in to “Conquer,” the season finale of The Walking Dead, I told Long-Suffering Boyfriend Michael that this episode would be my last. “I can’t take it anymore,” I declared. “The show is too intense, too upsetting, and it gives me nightmares. Every. Singe. Week.” I’m sure my complete and utter dismay over this series points to some deeper psychological issue I’m not facing. Is it a terrifying reminder of my own mortality or the futility of stringing mindless daily routines together and calling that life? Or is it just obvious from week to week that I would never make it past day one of a zombie apocalypse? I posed these questions to LSB Michael, to which he replied, “Walking Dead? Is that the one with the vampires?”
Season Five is actually the first full season I’ve forced myself to watch. I’ve caught bits and pieces here and there and have watched the most important or most talked about episodes throughout the show’s run. After “The Grove,” one of the best hours of television, genre or otherwise, ever produced, I really should have just called it quits.
Despite my reservations, tune in I did. After 90 grueling minutes of the season finale, plus way too many equally horrifying anti-smoking ads, I had one overriding response: “Holy mother of f**k!” This I proclaimed out loud…to myself…alone in my apartment. I try not to talk back to the TV too much, because there’s “fun” crazy, and then there’s, “Girl, you’re losing touch with reality, and is that ice cream in your hair?” crazy. My not-so-family-friendly proclamation was not in response to the harrowing escape of best buds Aaron and Daryl—and the awesome reintroduction of Morgan. Nor was it when Glenn was set upon (and almost feasted upon) by a clutch of nattily dressed walkers. Nor was it when Rick took a face full of zombie goo from a particularly rude Alexandria trespasser. No, I had my, “Oh my god; sh*t just got real” moment when Deanna, the politician, the careful planner and analytical thinker, took a small step into Rick’s much larger world and said, “Do it,” ending the Pete problem once and for all.
In Rick’s gun-waving speech from the previous episode, and even in the testimonials of his friends ‘round the ol’ Alexandria campfire, a not-so-subtle message became clear: Rick is a weapon. You can use him, or…well, you better use him. Deanna thought she could put him in a windbreaker and have him rescue kittens from trees or find out who stole the pie from Mrs. Jenkins’s windowsill, but that was never going to work. In other words, you don’t hang your katana sword on the wall during a zombie apocalypse, Deanna.
All season, Rick has been struggling with the “Might Makes Right” vs. “Might For Right” dichotomy, or as Arthur poses in Camelot, “Wrong or right, they have the might, so wrong or right, they’re always right; and that’s wrong…right?” The sinister Wolves are obviously “Might Makes Right” flag-wavers, so Deanna probably would have come around to Rick’s thinking eventually, but at what cost? Or as Rick so eloquently puts it: “The ones out there, the living and the dead, they’ll try to get in here. ‘Cause we’re in here. They’ll hunt us, they’ll find us, they’ll try to use us, they’ll kill us. But we’ll kill them. We’ll survive. I’ll show you how…You know, I was thinking, how many of you do I have to kill to save your lives. But I’m not going to do that. You’re going to change.”
Rick’s “ain’t nobody got time for that” response to dealing with Pete cleverly parallels both Glenn’s dispute with Nicholas and Sasha’s face-off with Gabriel. All three altercations end differently, but the message is the same: get your sh*t together and work as a team…or else. Deanna’s acquiescence may have come just in time to save them all.
It’s all just intriguing enough that I may have to watch Season Six, nightmares be damned. If only for the inevitable “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” musical sequence/training montage where Rick toughens up the citizens of Alexandria and turns them into warriors.
Do it, Rick. Do it.