You knew how to bite a dick, Eugene… Or how to survive the apocalypse

carol-spoilers

Fair warning! Spoilers ahead.

Dystopian literature many times focuses on the aftermath of an apocalyptic event that leads to a complete breakdown of society and its rebirth – many times with overt authoritarianism as the result. It’s a familiar story: Society breaks down —> People clamor for peace and serenity —> A leader or a group of leaders step in and give the people hope —> Ultimately, they consolidate power and control over the people —> Resistance movements form —> War, rinse, repeat.

What I love about The Walking Dead is that the show portrays that complete cycle – from breakdown onward – and while the whole zombie thing is less than realistic, the realism and raw power of the show comes from the living. It comes from the characters’ interactions with one another vice their constant zombie eradication. Zombies are pretty much like cockroaches with teeth at this point. Fatal head trauma – DONE!

Surviving the living? Now that’s another story.

We’ve seen some pretty brutal survival techniques. Cannibalism. The killing of a dangerous child, which led many to believe that the show had stepped over an unspoken red line (I disagree, for the record), Rick taking a chunk out of the neck of a bad guy with his teeth in order to protect his loved ones – in order to prevent his son from getting raped by a savage thug in the woods… We’ve seen a “kill them first or become a victim again” attitude from our core group of survivors, and we’ve seen it take its toll on their humanity.

Rick always asks newcomers a couple of interesting questions: how many walkers have you killed? How many people have you killed? Why? In the apocalypse, the questions are a relevant and (provided that the responses are truthful) insightful look into the character of the respondent. How many walkers have you killed? Translation: are you physically capable of surviving? How many people have you killed? Translation: are you emotionally and mentally ready to do what must be done, even if your adversary is another human? Why? Translation: are you a survivor who only kills to neutralize an active threat, or are you a murderer? Are you a moral human being, or are you a threat?

Ultimately, the question is: what are you willing to do to survive, and how are you willing to do it?

In last night’s episode, Eugene Porter, who until recently was just a weird, borderline creepy ass weasel, who tricked others into protecting him from the zombies, and got his rocks off watching his friends having sex, grew some balls and showed the world what he was willing to do to survive in the apocalypse. He realized he could no longer remain scared and weak in the apocalypse. He understood that in order to survive, he must kill or be killed. He acted on it. Whoo boy, did he act on it!

DWIGHT_98129312To make a long story short, Eugene was captured by Negan’s goons after a fight with Abraham while on a supply run. The goons ran into Daryl, Rosita, and Denise on a parallel supply run, killed Denise with a shocking arrow that pierced her head and her right eye, forced Eugene to kneel, and threatened to kill them unless Daryl, Rosita, and Eugene take them to Alexandria to loot the place. Eugene turned his head slightly and saw Abraham hiding behind some barrels. Apparently Abraham had been following Eugene, even though he walked away and left him alone after their row. Eugene used that odd intellect of his to create a diversion by seemingly betraying Abraham and directing Negan’s goons to the barrels, telling them another one of their group was hiding there.

And then things got interesting.

As attention shifted to the barrels, Eugene turned around and chomped down on the lead goon’s crotch. Hard. Bit down and didn’t let go like a pitbull with a porterhouse. Hung on as the goon flailed and screamed, teeth firmly attached to gigglestick and berries!

Later in the episode, an injured Eugene lies in the infirmary, and Abraham, voice filled with admiration at Eugene’s determination to live and protect his friends, tells him, “You knew how to bite a dick, Eugene. I mean that with utmost respect.” I’m still giggling at this like a puberty-struck middle-schooler. Yeah, I’m immature. Sue me.

But there’s a larger issue at stake, beyond the cock biting. Can you escape the apocalypse – zombie or otherwise – with your humanity intact? What are you willing to do to survive? Are you willing to threaten said humanity in exchange for another few breaths in this world?

Was staging a preemptive attack against Negan and his gorillas moral? Was it murder of people who did nothing to threaten them, or was it self-defense with the knowledge that the thugs would eventually attack Alexandria?

From Carol’s exit, it’s a bit obvious where she stands. She never calls it “murder,” but it’s evident that the killing bothered her enough to go walkabout. Carol has stabilized from her extreme swing from meek, abused Carol to warrior, Queen of the Apocalypse Carol, and the things she has had to do to survive are beginning to bother her as her pendulum finds a more normal course. Did she really have to kill Karen and David to prevent them from turning after dying of the flu? Did she really need to terrorize Sam? Did she really need to kill Lizzie?

For us, watching from our couches every week, the answers are clear. You do what you need to do to protect those whom you love, and threats come in all shapes and sizes – even young, innocent-looking ones.

But from the perspective of someone living it… where do you draw the line to ensure that you don’t become like the Termites? Just what kind of atrocity are you willing to commit in order to protect yourself and the ones you love? Would you chew through the enemy’s jugular Would you chomp down on his twig and berries? And how long before you’re chowing down on unsuspecting people’s sweetbreads a la Hannibal Lecter?

What would you do?

12 responses

  1. What is amazing is that zombies became a popular genre in entertainment, because they are nothing new. Even before Night of the Living Dead, there were zombie movies. The first known was made in 1932 called White Zombie. From there, zombies showed up in pretty much every decade. I guess I’m just getting old. Slick marketing and packaging? Or young people wanting to embrace something, and make it their own?

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    1. The difference with this show is that it’s not about zombies. The zombies can really be replaced with any type of apocalyptic event, which makes it so great! They’r part of the environment – nothing more, nothing less.

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  2. That’s easy! WHATEVER it took for me and mine to survive…period. Yes, that even includes cannibalism if ever game ran out. You CAN’T do anything to help yourself or your family if you’re DEAD!

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    1. I agree. I’d chomp down on a thousand penises if it meant me and mine survive.

      And now… I’ll give you a moment to get that visual out of your head!

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  3. Carol for President 2016! Flowers for everybody!

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  4. “Was it moral to preemptively attack the Saviors?”

    I’d say yes, given how they treated Darryl, Sasha and Abraham on the road, which rather neutralizes your assertion that the Saviors had done nothing to threaten them.

    Even if we put aside pretty-clearly-evil stance of blackmailing the Hilltop and demanding that Gregory be killed, the whole “We own everything, even your clothes, and if you talk back we’ll kill you” stance that every Savior has exhibited puts them in the same league as the Wolves and the Claimers.

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    1. Well, Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham neutralized the Saviors on the road. And at that point it didn’t look like they were planning on coming after them to retaliate.

      I don’t disagree with the assertion that they’re evil. I’m trying to look at it from their perspective. Thus far, the Saviors hadn’t threatened Alexandria directly.

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    2. “Thus far, the Saviors hadn’t threatened Alexandria directly.”

      Only because they didn’t know about it. And given how they’ve treated the folks at the Hilltop, we have a pretty good idea how that first contact would have gone.

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      1. That’s correct. I’m not debating you on this fact. I’m saying from their point of view, they could have just gone back to Alexandria and refused to help. They didn’t know exactly what they were dealing with.

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  5. way2opinionated

    Negan’s posse poses a Clear and Present Danger to the Alexandrians.

    a) The attack on the road. They specifically laid out their M.O. and were prepared to carry it out when Daryl cured them of their ambitions.

    b) The Hilltop group confirmed the reality of the Savior’s M.O. including a live demonstration of their ability to make people kill on command.

    c) any last doubt should have been eliminated by the response of the guards at the Savior’s compound.

    The Savior’s are pirates and the traditional response to pirates was to make them join the ranks of the former living. Prisons and keeping prisoners (think Morgan’s jail cell) and magnanimity are luxuries that can only be afforded by societies with surplus resources to feed extraneous mouths or guard unwilling labor. If the group is at the limits of its resources, its likelihood of survival is increased be not keeping prisoners or willingly allowing itself to be preyed upon by scavengers.

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  6. Am I a weirdo for preferring television shows like The Andy Griffith Show, Seinfeld, Cheers, The Sopranos, Foyle’s War, Doc Martin, Friday Night Lights, Rome, Northern Exposure, All Creatures Great and Small, the mercifully aborted Deadwood, the sadly abbreviated Carnivàle, Red Dwarf, House M.D., Lovejoy, Eastbound & Down and The Wire, none of which have so much as a zombie butterfly hinting at the coming Apocalypse?

    (Yes, yes, I also like The Simpsons, which has plenty more than a mere zombie butterfly, but an satirical cartoon series is a completely different beast!):/

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  7. Aw, poop. Again I mess up the proofreading. The passage “….an satirical …” should have been “… a satirical …”😦

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