Every new season I wrestle with myself over whether to continue watching, and every year–though I hate myself for it–I go ahead and watch. Another season is bearing down, according to continuous facebook reminders yesterday, so I thought of this piece. Rick Struggles To Cope was written a while back for a prompt related to the third season. Here’s my take.
How To Cope: Chop Until The Screaming Stops
How does one cope with loss after loss after horror after horror in pursuit of one half of a half of a tenth of a percent of humankind’s preservation? Bludgeon a monster. Bludgeon another. Chop, chop. Shoot. Build something. Tear something down. Follow instinct: Hunted become hunter. Hunt for killers and for precious remains to bury. Keep moving.
Keep moving or regret and fear will do terrible things to tender psyches.
Rick is the leader, the father, the enforcer. He’s the guy with the ax, the hammer, the six shooter. He’s the guy responsible for the safety of his family. He cannot fathom a newborn life won by the sacrifice of a woman — that freckled bride he moved heaven and earth to keep alive. Everyone, every member of this tattered, nomadic community who’s followed Rick through rural post-apocalyptic Georgia bears witness to the moment his mind … breaks.
Is Rick a metaphor?
Meanwhile, not so far away from the prison where a redneck warrior and a nubile young couple join forces to defend fencing, daring to count blessings, one of their reluctant fair-haired friends (thought lost months before) is on the verge of learning not all monsters wear decayed flesh and shamble around in search of fresh flesh. Some monsters might drawl and swagger and hold the key to a room accessorized by an aquarium swimming with heads.
Some monsters have lonely smiles and keep a good supply of sipping whisky nearby.
It’s the enigmatic Michonne who reviles that swagger and drawl. Suspicion raises her fight or flight response. Or, maybe she’s just jealous; maybe she wants the blonde all to herself.
Is Michonne a metaphor?
Is the Governor really good at heart, another poor schmuck left alive to mourn the loss of real children and the real world? Could be he just needs a little patience and trust from a smirky blonde (unfettered by sharp-edged friends) to make him feel all better.
Will the real monsters please stand up?
Observers of both sides of this story will undoubtedly wonder how Rick and Michonne might get on … if they ever cross paths. Would Rick and the Governor sip whisky and ponder the burden of losing everything? Would they, in friendly familiar tones, verbally analyze the sensation of going completely mad?
Back at the prison, there will be possum for dinner. A kid who just killed his mom is reciting names. Lots of names. There’s a one-legged preacher vet standing by silent and wise, and a skinny little girl with the voice of an angel seems to be out of songs.
Rick is wandering in the dark all alone, talking to ghosts, in desperate need of a grave to visit: Here Lies Lori, My Beloved.
How does one cope?
A few miles down the road strangers drink lemonade and play twisted summer games. While an aquarium swims with heads. You’ll want to keep that ax handy, Rick.