The Walking Dead: In the Family Way

The family is the nucleus of civilization.
William J. Durant

Husband and wife.

Father and son.

Brothers and sisters.

This week, the Walking Dead put family front and center. We were treated to the reunion of Rick with his family, while little sister Amy was overjoyed at the return of older sister Andrea. Furthermore, we got to meet Daryl, brother of Merle ‘You left me chained to a pipe!‘ Dixon. Unfortunately, beneath the veneer of hugs and kisses lurked some really nasty reminders of the world before the undead pulled their little coup d’état.

Upon Ricks return, it seemed that the only one happy to see him was Carl. Lori stared at him in what seemed to be utter fear. Here was her husband, long thought dead (or zombie chow), standing before her. Shane wasn’t much better, with a look on his wife-stealing mug that echoed Lori’s. With the arrival of Rick, Shane’s plans to form his own little makeshift family (loyal Golden Retriever not included) were dashed; and with that the equilibrium of the camp was severely upset.

The fallout of Lori rejecting Shane left him with some pent up aggression. Enter Ed. One of the more interesting aspects of this episode was the briefly glimpsed relationship between Ed and his wife, Carol. Even in the wake of the Zombie Apocalypse, Ed clings to a sexist mindset of superiority over all women. He didn’t even have to call Andrea an ‘uppity, college-educated bitch’ to get his stance across. His complete and utter control of Carol, with but a mere glance or flick of a cigarette was terrifying; maybe not for me , but for Carol and their daughter, Sofia. In a world where danger lurks around literally every corner, Carol can’t even feel safe with her husband.

Anyway, back to Shane’s pent up aggression. When Ed decided to take a shot at Carol, Shane’s eruption into ‘Fists of Fury’-mode wasn’t much of a surprise. Sure, Ed deserved a beat down, but not of the severity delivered by Shane. But that is beside the point. Shane lost the security of his makeshift family when Rick, his brother-figure, returned. Now he’s relegated to looking over a ragtag group of survivors. He has no one to give his love to and no one to return his love. As such, he is effectively cut off from passing on a legacy. He is the Walking Dead.

Speaking of passing on a legacy, we recently witnessed Shane and Lori getting it on in the woods. Less than a day later, Lori and Rick re-consummate their relationship. This begs the obvious question of, ‘Who’s your daddy?’ We all know that Lori is going to become pregnant in the coming episodes (whether in this season or Season 2) and the identity of the father will have massive repercussions on the relationships of the survivors. The birth of a child is always a beautiful thing, but I’m sad that the birth of this child will signal the end of trust and love between many of these characters.

By episodes end we see Rick, along with T-Dog, Glen and Daryl Dixon, make his way back into Atlanta. He knows that his new family of survivors will need the guns he left behind during his first foray in Zombieville. More importantly, Rick intends to honor his promise to keep in contact with Morgan and Duane via the walkie-talkie in the bag containing said guns. Lastly, our stalwart sheriff and friends are going after Daryl’s brother, Merle. Regardless of how despicable the Dixon boys are, they are brothers and they look out for each other. Unlike Ed, these criminals understand the concept of kinship and, in this world, that just might be their saving grace.

Alas, upon reaching the roof where Merle was left, the would-be rescuers find a frightening surprise. That’s right, rather than be chewed-up up the zombies knocking at his door, Merle made quite a sacrifice. As the music swelled and Rick, Glen and T-Dog looked on; Daryl let out a primal scream. The camera panned slowly to reveal a hacksaw, a bloody pair of handcuffs and a dismembered hand. With Merle missing, it will be interesting to see how his brother reacts. Will he rain unholy vengeance on Rick in the way only an enraged family member can? Or will cooler heads prevail? Only time will tell.

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