Throughout the first four weeks of Season 5 of The Walking Dead, I began to sense a feeling of disappointment, but it wasn’t like the past let-downs of Season 4.
As much as I thought these episodes were boring at first, I equally believed that the show was going to do a good job of bringing Beth back into the mix. Overall, her return episode “Slabtown” wasn’t awful but I think it could have had a much higher ceiling in order to make an impact with the fans. But eventually, at the end, it did. When Carol was wheeled into the hospital in front of Beth, my entire demeanor changed.
Dr. Morbid and I watched every episode of The Walking Dead together since the show debuted and fully agreed that last season’s episodes that focused on one person of the group had their pro’s and con’s.
Considering The Walking Dead is focused on a very close knit group of survivors, we were taken aback by the splitting up of the group that occurred throughout Seasons 2, 3 & 4. With that being said, we both agreed that by the end of Season 4 it all ended up making sense.
They are a strong group and function very well together, but they aren’t the only ones in this zombie apocalypse trying to do the same and survive. The difference between them and other groups however is simple: Rick. I believe he is now officially the heart and soul of the success of this group/family. I used to question whether he would last as their leader, but now I’m convinced.
At least a dozen times throughout the course of the show, Rick could have been replaced as the leader of a thoroughly strong and capable group who could survive in this world without him. However, just like the Governor & Gareth, he’s evolved and done what needs to be done in order to survive. The difference between Rick and them however, is his humility and realism. Recently we saw, much like several other characters, Carol end up surviving Rick’s forced exile in the name of justice and humility. Rick’s humility is what I believe allows Carol to end up coming back to the group. She understands his reasons for exiling her in the first place, which saves his ass!
Although many will see this as a typical Walking Dead theme, I am beginning to understand the point of it all. Losing Rick as the leader of our group will be the end of hope and democracy as we know it. Every other leader in this world has been ruthless and twisted in totally inhumane ways. Rick, although not a saint, has maintained a certain level of justice and integrity that every other leader has not. The Governor was convinced his family could be reunited, Gareth decided that eating people was OK, and the hospital which Beth is now a part of even has a twisted hierarchy. It just shows that leaders of surviving groups have proven to be inferior to Rick because he maintains compassion and respect that is earned by being a good person, even in this new, brutal world.
This week’s episode proves that his sometimes barbaric, yet effective methods for this world can work. Beth comes back into the show in a very difficult situation, with yet another heartless leader controlling a situation through fear at the hospital (Officer Dawn). Despite all this, Beth maintains her new found values in this world, values that she learned from Rick.
This is where the 3 questions that define The Walking Dead come to mind: “How many walkers have you killed? How many people have you killed? WHY?”
It’s so far from Gareth saying, “You join us or you feed us.” Rick’s version of this would probably be, “You join civility or you die.”
Beth has no clue what Terminus was really about and has been a part of everything that has happened since the farm, but what Rick has taught her through it all has finally hit home. This world is permanent. No help is coming. Civility is all that’s left and Beth sees that it doesn’t exist at the hospital. It’s why she smiles as her new friend runs away to freedom, because she knows this hospital isn’t a place to find refuge. Noah was civil with his lollipop gift to her and none of the other people there scratched that surface. She learned from Rick how to judge people in this new world and she’s proud that she was finally able to help someone else. Civility.
Even with these unwanted episodes focusing on just one character, I’m excited to see how this Beth-centric storyline plays out…especially with Carol now in the building. Be prepared for some crazy storylines as this very good season moves forward.