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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Walking Dead 4x03: Isolation

Rick and Company have fought many different enemies throughout The Walking Dead. They’ve battled zombies, other humans and even themselves. While they’ll probably never stop battling themselves, zombies nor other humans (in that order), they have found now themselves a new foe: illness.

Perhaps this is a story that needs to be told. Heck, part of me feels like this story should have been told sooner. Considering all the bumps, scrapes and bruises that have occurred (not to mention stabbings and gunshot wounds) I’m surprised people in the group haven’t died from infections yet. However realistic, though, watching people slowly die of the flu is just not compelling to me.

The reason it’s not compelling to me is the same reason it’s so scary and frustrating to the characters. Infectious diseases are so impossible to battle. I’m not saying you can’t overcome a disease or take precautions against getting infected yourself but, once you get it, there’s not much to do but drink tea (which, I’ll admit it, lead to a very inspiring and well-acted speech by Hershel) and hope you don’t die. There’s no punching, shooting or outsmarting this foe. There’s just waiting it out.

The Walking Dead tries to mitigate this fact by giving some characters a more tangible objective in the form of a panacea fifty miles away. This leads to the obligatory car getting overrun with zombies scene. There was some nice action and Tyreese got his time to shine (taking a cue from the comic) but it certainly felt like been-there-done-that territory.

The end result is that this episode didn’t lead us anywhere. We only got halfway to getting the antibiotic and the only character development was Tyreese deciding he can fight and Carol’s big revelation that she's a dumbass. The rest of the episode was people coughing themselves to death. The sooner we can move on from that the better.

Other Thoughts:
I’m fairly critical of burying bodies during an apocalypse since it seems pointless to me. But I suppose I can let it slide when you can do it safely within the walls of a prison field. Still, they might run out of space!

At least they’re keeping the sick people in jail cells so if someone turns into a zombie they won't be roaming free. The characters are learning! That officially puts them on par with velociraptors. Hey, progress is progress.

When the little girl, Lizzie I believe, said she was feeling sick it almost looked like she was faking it. I'm not sure if that's the case for some reason or if it was just bad acting.

I understand Tyreese wanting to catch the murderer but Rick is right. Dealing with the plague was more important at the moment. But I'm not sure Rick's fist were the best tools to use to make the point.

It’s nice to hear that Daryl would like to hunt down the Governor like Michonne but simply believes the trail is too cold to track.

I’m not sure what Hershel’s point about not killing the zombies because they didn’t need to was. The only good zombie is a dead zombie. Not that they’d have a way of knowing but what if one of those zombies ends up killing some innocent person? I could understand if Hershel simply didn’t want Carl to shoot the gun because it would attract unwanted attention from other zombies but that’s not the sense I got.

Michonne’s pension for decapitating zombies with her sword, while visually awesome, seems unwise. You need to cut through the head and slice the brain. Slicing at the neck seems like a sure way to get someone’s ankle bit.

Carol’s pretty much a sociopathic idiot. In case you’re wondering I’ve never been on the “Shane” side of things. The idea that all morals should be thrown out the window in favor protecting the few people closest to you just doesn’t hold water with me. But Carol is even worse than Shane because not only is Carol morally dubious but she’s also, apparently, really stupid.

First, I should point out that I believe that Karen and David were still alive but sick with flu-plague. Carol stabbed them to death and dragged their bodies outside to burn them in order to protect the rest of the group from the plague. Now, I can get behind a debate of the good of the many outweighing the good of the few but…what good did this bring at all? There’s making a tough decisions and then there’s making a dumb decision.

Obviously Carol’s plan didn't work since the plague still spread. But not only did it not work but it had no chance of working. Firstly, the odds of others already being infected were huge. Maybe she never took high school biology but I'd hope she'd know that just because someone isn't showing symptoms of an illness doesn't mean they're not infected. Maybe it'll take a day or two to show signs or maybe they're a carrier.

Secondly, by killing these two infected people and dragging their bodies around she was highly likely to get infected herself! Then she is walking around the healthy people like it's no big dead. Carol needs to be jailed/executed/exiled. Whatever the policy is in the prison.

Carol is officially a menace due the wrong combination of amorality and stupidity. I know she did what she did because she thought it was the right thing to do but you know who else murdered people because they thought it was the right thing to do? Every serial killer ever.

6 comments:

  1. This is mainly my fault for not paying enough attention, Dr Bitz, but would you mind correcting the title of this post, please? I was a paragraph in before I realised this is episode 4x03, which won't air over here in the UK until tomorrow.

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  2. So I feel like this is one of those episode where, if the show hadn't done it, I'd be complaining that they never fully addressed the ramifications of the group being ravaged by illness.

    But now that they did it, I'm like, "eh, that wasn't terribly exciting or compelling." Maybe I'm just impossible to please...

    I did really like Hershel's speech before going into the prison, and really, this was a pretty great episode for Hershel.

    Also, this was a great episode for Beth. Based on her first conversation with Maggie, she's the smartest fucking character on this show. She should be in charge.

    Then there's Carol. Look, when I said I wanted more development for the characters, this isn't what I meant. I'm also really confused about where this is is going, because I'm not sure what her goals are. Did she really think killing Karen and David would help (because, as you say, that's just stupid - there's doing something wrong for a good reason, then there's doing something wrong for no good reason)? Or is the show actually going to legitimately turn her into some kind of psychopath? If so, well, I guess that could be kind of interesting.

    Also, a question: was it clear to anyone else what Rick saw at the crime scene that led him to suspect Carol? I can see how, once the suspicion had been planted, you could come to the conclusion that Carol had done it, but I wasn't sure what led Rick there initially. Maybe we're not supposed to know (but I did really like that Rick actually did investigate the crime, given his background and all).

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  3. But I suppose I can let it slide when you can do it safely within the walls of a prison field. Still, they might run out of space!

    I also question the sanitation of it, especially now that they're burying plague-ridden bodies. I mean, their principle water source is right there; how long before those decomposing bodies trickle down into the ground water? I feel like burning them would be a better way to go.

    That officially puts them on par with velociraptors.

    Ha! Are you suggesting that soon the characters will learn how to use door handles?

    But I'm not sure Rick's fist were the best tools to use to make the point.

    Rick's fists are always the best tools.

    It’s nice to hear that Daryl would like to hunt down the Governor like Michonne but simply believes the trail is too cold to track.

    I also liked the quiet confirmation that Michonne is, indeed, hunting the Governor. Which we all kind of figured, so I'm glad they didn't feel the need to make the confirmation of that some big episode-ending revelation.

    I’m not sure what Hershel’s point about not killing the zombies because they didn’t need to was. The only good zombie is a dead zombie.

    Exactly! You do need to kill the zombie. You need to kill every zombie you can. It's the only way you'll ever make world without zombies.

    Also, shouldn't Carl, of all people, know the dangers of not killing a zombie when you have the chance, considering he didn't kill a zombie when he could and it later killed Dale? I was honestly expecting Carol, when she was stupidly fixing the water, to get killed by the zombie Hershel told Carl not to shoot.

    And Hershel couldn't have been worried about the noise, since Carl had his silencer on the the gun. Mrs. Teebore suggested maybe he felt it was a waste of a bullet, which, maybe, but then kill it with a knife or something.

    Maybe she never took high school biology but I'd hope she'd know that just because someone isn't showing symptoms of an illness doesn't mean they're not infected.

    Exactly! I mean heck, Carol could have been infected when she was killing them (which would be pretty wryly hilarious if the show goes that way).

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  4. Now that I've seen this, I liked it a great deal more than Dr Bitz and Teebore seemed to. Maybe it's just my line of work - which my girlfriend shares - but watching this gave us a lot of time to discuss medicine in Zombie-times, which is a fascinating subject.

    Which isn't to say the execution is perfect - no pun intended, given Carol was the biggest problem here. Really, though, I don't think her solution was quite as stupid as suggested (which isn't to say I think it was remotely acceptable, of course). Like I said last time, we're dealing with probabilities here. Every infected person you can isolate reduces the chance of further infection. The question isn't "Will this stop the disease?", it's "Will this reduce the chances of further infection?". The answer to that latter question is "Actually, it might". Quarantining is always sound policy, even with something like flu that has a gap between infection and the development of symptoms (and there are ways Carol could minimise the chances of infection herself whilst carrying the bodies).

    The real problem here - aside from Carol not bothering to ask a second, far more important question: "Is the likely small reduction in infection chances worth murdering two human beings over?" to which the answer strikes me as clearly "no" - is that quarantine was pretty much decided on as the correct course of action. That said, I guess Carol might argue they were taking far to long about the idea (too busy stumbling around in shock after the jailhouse shock), so took matters into her own hands. Looked at that way, you could actually argue Carol's actions are a response to even greater stupidity by the survivor's "council".

    All that said, you'd chivvy people along first, and then start moving the sick to a different block on your own. Jumping straight to horrible murder is just too much of a stretch.

    I’m not sure what Hershel’s point about not killing the zombies because they didn’t need to was. The only good zombie is a dead zombie

    Like Mrs Teebore, I think there's an argument to be made that wasting bullets is poor practice (I'm also not sure how long that silencer will work, but that's not something I'm qualified to do more than speculate on). Killing it with a knife isn't without risks either; you could break or damage the knife, or be bitten.

    So Hershel, I think, was right on the merits - let's not forget they were dealing with a zombie neither inside their defences nor trying to push them over - but that's not why he said it. He's trying to get Carl out of the "step one: kill, step two: not care about step one" mentality. If nothing else, it acts as a thematic counter to Carol's new philosophy of reacting to any situation with as much unfeeling violence as possible.

    @Teebore

    Also, a question: was it clear to anyone else what Rick saw at the crime scene that led him to suspect Carol?

    Was that when he started suspecting her? I thought he was just asking around, talked to Carol at the end, when she let something slip that made him work out what was going on. She certainly said something that made us both say "You just blew it, lady!"

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  5. @SpaceSquid - It's true I'm no medical expert but I suppose we should note that Carol isn't either. So she's really just guessing that killing two people and burning their bodies might stop the plague. And, while I don't disagree that it COULD stop it, as you note, we have to look at probabilities here.

    You already had two people confirmed to have died of the sickness and two more infected. (All of these people, I believe, are unrelated.) I think, at that point, it was safe to assume the illness was already spreading.

    I guess another way to put it, if you're going to kill two innocent people you better be damned sure it's going to solve the problem.

    But I totally agree that a quarantine was needed and, frankly, they should've had a quarantine policy already set up. If you get sick you have to go to a separate cell block or something.

    As far as Carl not killing zombies go, I know it fits thematically to have him not kill the zombies as opposed to Carol but theme, in my opinion, should come second to plot.

    I think there also might be a bit of Hershel trying to stem Carl's sociopathic tendencies. Kind of like, normally you'll stomp on a cockroach when you see one but if you're with a kid with bloodlust in their eyes perhaps you decide not to in order to teach them respect for living things.

    But, I would argue that there are plenty of safe ways to kill a zombie. I know they shouldn't waste bullets (and I still say firing the gun might attract more zombies but that's only if the show is going with real life suppressors (in which a gun still makes a lot of noise) or Hollywood fictitious "silencers" (where a pistol just makes soft wisp of air)). They could just grab a thick tree branch and break its head in.

    Oh, and I apologize for the wrong episode number. I hope I didn't spoil anything!

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  6. I guess another way to put it, if you're going to kill two innocent people you better be damned sure it's going to solve the problem.

    I think on this point we agree completely. I guess what I'm driving at is that I see Carol's actions not as stupid (except insofar as she might get found out) so much as an act of supreme vicious bloodthirst - the implication is that she'll kill anyone for the slightest chance of reducing the speed/chances of infection. I don't think it's stupid, it's just utterly inhuman and unacceptable. As I say, I'm entirely on-board with it being difficult to credit Carol having changed so much in the course of a month with almost no casualties, but I see a certain hideous logic underneath what she's doing.

    Fair point about the tree-branch; if it's long enough you can guarantee not getting within biting range. Of course, finding that branch might take time; other zombies might arrive, etc. But yes, I think this was almost entirely about Hershel wanting to get Carl out of the habit of killing. As well as it being a very Hershel thing to do, it's actually a good long-term strategy: a gun-happy teenager is going to be a problem if they meet other groups and need to practice a bit of diplomacy, or even if he takes a dislike to someone in the prison and things get heated.

    No worries for the episode number slip-up; the only thing I learned ahead of time was that Hershel wanted to make tea, which wasn't exactly too much of a burden. Thanks for changing it :)

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