"People need entertainment," said the Governor. And in this moment, I would argue that this season of The Walking Dead reached the next level. It almost seems like the Governor was responding to people who think the show is too violent. What's the problem? It's all staged! They're just killing zombies! It's all in good fun! Greg Nicotero! Intriguingly, the Governor took it one step further and argued that the fights had an actual social utility. "You're teaching them that walkers aren't dangerous," argued Andrea. "We're teaching them not to be afraid," said the Governor. You could argue that Woodbury, then, is built on a slippery slope: A peaceful society which thrills to violence. (Andrea actually said, "It's a slippery slope.") Then again, you could also argue that Woodbury is a fairly typical society. It was born in violence; it has now achieved peace, but there is something in the genetic memory of its citizens that demands violence; hence, gladiator fights; hence, boxing matches; hence, first-person shooters; hence, football.
Again, I'm not sure any of this means that Woodbury is a fundamentally bad place. Everyone there seems pretty happy. Besides the Governor and his security squad, none of them are bad or sinful people; heck, they're practically a model of selfless community. If the dark little secret of their happy community is a bit of violence now and then, is that such a bad thing? (Further reading for your next subway ride: "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas," by Ursula K. Le Motherf---ing Guin.)
This was probably the quietest episode of the season so far. It amounted to a deep dive into various characters' psychology -- albeit with plenty of zombie-killing along the way. Appropriately, the episode ended with a couple of quiet little moments. Daryl set a flower on Carol's grave, a reminder of a conversation they had long ago in simpler times. (We didn't see any sign of Carol in this episode, which brings up the basic question: Do we even care if she's dead?) Meanwhile, Rick heard a phone ringing inside the birth chamber. He picked it up: "Hello?" Are the phone lines working? Is someone from Woodbury checking in? Is Destiny calling, and will Rick accept the charges? (This is where I remind everyone that, if you want to talk about any plot lines from the comic book, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE TYPE "SPOILER ALERT.")
All in all, a great and brainteasing episode. Fellow viewers, what did you think of this week's shenanigans? Was Michonne right to leave Woodbury? Where does "zombie-decapitating" fit into the stages of grief? What would you name Baby Grimes? Is it weird that a peaceful society would be addicted to violent entertainment, or is that just human nature? And if it's human nature, are we fundamentally immoral, meaning that Michonne is probably right to go and live in the woods by herself? Can Daryl Motherf---ing Dixon be our stepdad?
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Ask me stuff about Walking Dead, or possums, or the psychological history of human violence!