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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Walking Dead 4x13: Alone

Survival. That’s the name of the game in a zombie apocalypse. Luckily, humans are hard wired for survival. We naturally seek out food, water, shelter. We naturally avoid pain and look for safety. We naturally try to keep ourselves alive. (Well, for the most part. The brain can be confused by modern technology. Oh, and drugs. Drugs can confuse the brain in a variety of different ways.)

At the lowest level these survival instincts are regulated by neurotransmitters. They tell us when to eat, sleep and everything else we need to survive. Of course, there’s another survival instinct that often gets overlooked. It’s the instinct primarily controlled by the neurotransmitter oxytocin. It’s the instinct to do the nasty.

No, this isn't your weekly installment of “Dramatically Oversimplifying Neuroscience.” It’s just readily apparent that the characters showcased in the appropriately name Walking Dead episode “Alone” are all being governed by oxytocin.

Oxytocin is running wild between Beth and Daryl. They haven’t acted on their feelings yet but it’s pretty obvious they’re both feeling something. Of course, they don’t have a chance to act on it as Beth is oddly kidnapped by some unknown assailant. Daryl fails to track her down but ends up befriending(?) the group of ruffians that invaded the Rick, Carl, Michonne house. Frankly, I have no idea where that is headed but I would not appreciate a Daryl heel turn.

Meanwhile, Maggie is obviously feeling the lack of oxytocin without Glenn. So she, upon finding the signs for Terminus, decides it’s best to go there. Sasha is stupidly against this idea. Yes, Glenn may not be there but walking to Terminus is a lot better plan than wandering around hoping to bump into Glenn. At least it’s A plan.

Sasha, in fact, doesn't believe she needs oxytocin at all. She's prepared to go it alone without any human contact at all. I’m not questioning her ability to survive on her own but what kind of life would that be? Just ask Morgan for that answer, I suppose.

Bob, the third member of the threesome (giggidy), is happy with whatever oxytocin his body’s producing simply by being around people. He’s been alone twice before and he doesn't want to do it again. Of course, just being social isn't always enough and it seems he might want a little more from Sasha.

It started to look like everyone would be separated by the end of this episode. However, Maggie, Sasha and Bob end up back together. They decide that going to Terminus together is better than doing anything else alone.

Other Thoughts:
Again, this another episode that wasn't bad but the plot continues to move at a snail's pace. It took an entire episode for Maggie, Bob and Sasha to decide to go to Terminus. Daryl and (a now seemingly kidnapped) Beth are still no where near Terminus...purposefully anyway. We haven't checked in on anyone else in a couple episodes so who knows what's going on with them.

It really says something about The Walking Dead’s character development (or lack thereof) that the only romantic relationship we've ever cared about is Glenn and Maggie’s. Rick had a wife for half the series and we never really cared about them.

Bob’s goatee while roaming the wilderness alone is surprisingly well groomed.

I’m still confused as to what Beth stepped on when she was tracking that zombie.

Only Daryl could get away with telling a woman that she’s heavier than she looks.

Daryl said “I don’t think the good ones [people] survive.” Ummm...except for you and Beth, at least. Right?

Despite it obviously being somebody else’s safe house and Daryl and Beth paying lip service to leaving food for that person they really did just make themselves at home.

Daryl has had two potential love interests, Beth and Carol. I've oddly had the same question for both of them: How old are you?

Something about a horde of zombies suddenly being at the door felt forced. Why or how would zombies pick the door to stand by?

Also, who kidnapped Beth? Were they waiting for her? Or did the person just happen upon her and this person always had a plan that if, by some random chance, they find some woman alone they’re going to put her in a car and drive her to some predestined place. Of course, I guess I’m not sure if she was kidnapped at all?

If Beth was kidnapped and they’re going with that plot line where I think they’re going with it...well...I hope they don’t. It may be realistic in a world like The Walking Dead but it’s still not a story I need to watch.

To be clear, oxytocin isn't JUST about sex. It’s produced through human interaction. So, despite the lack of people knocking boots, the group could still be getting their socialization fill.

Also, apparently oxytocin has been thought to promote “ethnocentric behavior, incorporating the trust and empathy of in-groups with their suspicion and rejection of outsiders.” So...maybe Rick’s group has too much oxytocin already?

8 comments:

  1. Daryl fails to track her down but ends up befriending(?) the group of ruffians that invaded the Rick, Carl, Michonne house.

    "Befriend" seems to be a strong word. I'm willing to bet that Daryl has no intention of sticking with these guys for the long haul. At this moment, he knew he was outnumbered and outgunned. Picking a fight would have been stupid as he, most likely, wouldn't have walked away from it. I supposed he picked the best strategy which is to play along until he has a, more advantageous, opportunity to bug out.

    So far, it seems like everyone is on their way towards converging in Terminus. Beth, who's MIA, and Daryl, who has, reluctantly, teamed with the ruffians appear to be the only outliers. Are the ruffians headed to Terminus? Who knows. With only three episodes left of the season, I hope they'll start tying some of these threads together and really get things moving. There has been a bit more "aimless wandering" in the back half than I would have liked.

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  2. I haven't read the comics, so I don't know what story you're referencing with Beth being kidnapped. So I'm going to make this call right now -- if she was kidnapped, it was by the Governer, who has become a zombie/human hybrid supervillain.

    Yes, I'm joking.

    Or am I...?

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  4. Lovely analysis, Dr. Linking everything together through oxycontin is a nice framing.

    Sasha is stupidly against this idea. Yes, Glenn may not be there but walking to Terminus is a lot better plan than wandering around hoping to bump into Glenn. At least it’s A plan.

    Holy lizardnads, but Sasha is pissing me off with that. If your plan is to find somewhere to hold up, at least stick with the group until something shows up that would actually fit your criteria. Otherwise, what is your problem. "I wanna go find Terminus. "I wanna go find a safe place." "Shall we go looking for a safe place in the direction of Terminus?" "NOOOO!!! Tantrums! Foot-stamps! Shouting because REASONS!"

    I’m still confused as to what Beth stepped on when she was tracking that zombie.

    I couldn't really make it out, but I think it was maybe a bear trap, only for rabbits? They probably have a name for those... ;)

    @Matt

    It's worth noting that Beth doesn't actually exist in the comics (at least in any recognisable form; Hershel instead has twin daughters somewhere around seven years old) - indeed season 4 continues to be pretty off-piste in general. I assume the good Dr. is worried the kidnappers might turn out to be a rape gang.

    Actually, having read the comics, I'm thinking it might be something else, but I shall keep my peace rather than spoil anything.

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  5. Hold up... There are weekly installments of "Dramatically Oversimplifying Neuroscience"?

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  6. @Cerebro: ""Befriend" seems to be a strong word. I'm willing to bet that Daryl has no intention of sticking with these guys for the long haul."

    Yeah, that's why I through the ? in. I'm just worried he'll fall back to his old "Meryl" days. But I do agree that, as of now, he has no intention of sticking around long term.

    "There has been a bit more "aimless wandering" in the back half than I would have liked."

    They seem to think that just throwing in some zombie killing will satiate people. I want the narrative to move forward, dammit!

    @Matt: " haven't read the comics, so I don't know what story you're referencing with Beth being kidnapped."

    SpaceSquid is right. There's, as of yet, no analog to the comic. I'm just worried she'll be sexually assaulted.

    @SpaceSquid: "Lovely analysis, Dr. Linking everything together through oxycontin is a nice framing."

    Thanks, compliments are always appreciated! (Also, your check is in the mail.)

    "Sasha is pissing me off with that."

    In my notes I wrote "Sasha's kind of a bitch." I couldn't think of anyway to expound on that so I didn't include it in the post.

    "I couldn't really make it out, but I think it was maybe a bear trap, only for rabbits?"

    You might be right. It reminded me of a bear trap but it obviously wasn't big enough and didn't do much damage. Maybe I'm just not enough of an outdoors man to know about these things.

    @Blam: "Hold up... There are weekly installments of "Dramatically Oversimplifying Neuroscience"?"

    Ha! Should I make it a real thing?

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  7. Hold up... There are weekly installments of "Dramatically Oversimplifying Neuroscience"?

    "This week, the hippocampus; looks like a horsey, does stuff with memory and shit."

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  8. I have read the comics and while like somebody has mentioned Beth doesn't really have an analog there if you follow the story of the comics they do run into somebody after they leave the prison. I'm not sure if that's who took Beth but it might be. It would be an interesting plot if it is that I think they should look at sooner or later even if this isn't it. I would hate to ruin it for everybody though so I will keep my yap shut.

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