No Happy Endings

"Someday this pain will be useful to you." — Deanna, "The Walking Dead"

The NFL Season is over. While I'll have off-season musings on the Broncos, for the bulk of the Spring and Summer, Monday posts will be dedicated to Sunday prestige cable drama hot stove. Thankfully, "The Walking Dead" is back.

"The Walking Dead" is the most popular show on television. It's also one of the most ideologically rich for me. I've often looked at episodes in recap/post form in the past. For season six, I had to wait for Lindsay to catch up, so I marathoned the first eight episodes during some snow days Super Bowl week. And Sunday night, I was ready for the show to continue.

What I wasn't quite ready for is how it would continue. When the fall finale left off, our heroes were in a precarious position. Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham had been stopped on the road. Glenn was on the outside looking in. Maggie was trapped on the wall. And the town was over run by walkers. Their tranquil oasis gone.

For the past season and a half, Rick, our hero, has been in a flirtatious relationship with Jessie, an Alexandria resident and mother of two. The fact Rick killed her husband was more of a stumbling block than a deal-breaker. At the end of the first half of season six, it seemed like Rick and Jessie were going to make a go of it. He was finally going to have a chance at happiness.

Then the wall busted and the walkers got in. So Rick being Rick, he devised a crazy plan to walk through the crowd to safety.


The problem was Jessie's son, Sam, who was too afraid of the new state of the world and too much of a liability. We saw it as the mid-season finale closed, and it returned early into the second half of the season. Sam freaked out and was devoured by the zombie hoard. Jessie soon followed, then her oldest son, Ron, who never got over his father's death, shot Carl in the eye and got killed by Michonne.

"The Walking Dead" has always been a violent show. It's also not a show that shies away from violence or heart break. But even so, that scene was shocking. In fact, Sunday's was one of the most violent episodes in the show's history. It was also one of the most compelling.

But, ultimately, it was an episode that re-enforced the long standing theme of no happy endings in this broken state of the world. Just when Rick was on the cusp of something approaching happiness in a place approaching the normal world, the rug is pulled out from under him.

But at the same time, it's a show about how you find hope. The final scene, when Rick is at Carl's bedside, holding his hand, he tells him "I want to show you the new world." The world they're going to make from the broken pieces of the world before. It's a sense of hope and optimism you don't expect, and one of the beautiful reasons why I love this show.

Now we have to see where, how, and if that new world emerges.


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