The Walking Dead’s latest allegory is garbage…literally.
AMC’s ratings juggernaut has always used settings and non-zombie third-parties to frame moral and historical allegories. The hope is these elevate the plots beyond the “see zombie, kill zombie” trope that has historically plagued the genre.
The results range from the philosophical (an idyllic farm acts as a stand-in for the false sense of security when good men do nothing, a prison or a walled town imprisons its residents with the hope of a sustainable future), to the literary (e.g. a good king is under siege from a growing evil that is swallowing the land).
The new “Crew of the Week”, inhabiting a junkyard labyrinth and employing a spiked zombie feat-of-worthiness, took us into the historical. Rick’s promise of guns and a share of the spoils of war was exactly the tactic the English and French used in recruiting Native American tribes during their many colonial spats, culminating in the French and Indian War.
So since I’m a history nerd AND have stuck with The Walking Dead through thick and thin, why am I picking on it now? Weren’t the pickings so much easier when they applied overt violence in a cheap “shlock vs. shock” shell game? Why am I not standing and applauding the careful construction of an colonial-esque alliance that will allow freedom to ring across the walker-pocked frontier?
Because it’s just more of the same non-cleverness we’ve been clubbed with like a certain barbwire-wrapped bat.
Why the hell would this junkyard gang talk like the children from “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” or The Lost Boys from “Hook”? I get it — they haven’t had a lot of contact with other people. But it hasn’t been generations since they became “isolated”, and they’re not children. There’s a 0% chance their vocabulary has degraded that fast — it’s literally never happened to any other group in the history of this show.
Their leader’s description of “times getting harder” also mirrors what native peoples experienced when Europeans created intense competition for resources through intensive fur trapping with guns and steel traps (also, here’s a hint, don’t eat canned goods you find in your dumpster barony). Historically, this led to tribes working to develop what they thought would be mutually-beneficial alliances with the Europeans and adapting to the changing technological and geo-political dynamics. So, of course, our Lost Trash Tribe demands guns while also becoming mercenaries for the first bidder to darken their storage container doors. I think by now I’ve made my point, so we don’t need to spend time getting into the line of metal animal totems outside their…village? vault? bunker complex? (Also, I’d be pissed if I had made that cat thingy and discovered Slick Rick pilfered it for a trophy like a drunk college kid pulling a prank)
If these people were the educated hipsters their haircuts and matching black outfits communicated them to be, then they should have kicked Rick to the curb without so much as a tour of the “up up”. Someone should have recognized that a desperate, grimy Rick will keep his promises only as long as they’re convenient. The British and French (and later the Americans), armed native tribes to the teeth, made all kinds of promises to build tenuous alliances during their wars in the New World, then backtracked on their guarantees of shared prosperity as soon as it was convenient.
OK, fine. None of “Hole in the Plot Gang” remember their AP American History class (although I bet there are plenty of old college textbooks in one of those junky acres). But did any of them at least watch “The Last of the Mohicans”? I mean, they clearly did if they’re adopting the overt mannerisms of the Huron portrayed in the movie…right down to English speech patterns (at least the Huron were multi-lingual, guerrilla warfare experts, not dumbed-down stereotypes of “blood-thirsty savages”).
This crap-speckled approach isn’t just insulting to the intelligence of the audience, it’s also just plain LAZY. Or maybe Gimple, Nicotero, Hurd et al are dumpster diving for ideas, scraping the allegorical bottom of the barrel in a desperate effort to mask the hot garbage stink from the past several years.
Either way, it’s enough to make you gag and want a shower after the credits roll.