WASHINGTON, February 26, 2018: When a televised drama series like AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead’ begins to wane, it’s a sure bet a plot twist is about to unfold. Since October of 2010, ‘Walking Dead’ has chronicled the exploits of former Georgia Sheriff Rick Grimes as he leads a group of frightened survivors through the zombie apocalypse.
Along the way, they are chased by the undead, eaten by the undead and must confront living miscreants who would exploit the crisis for their own benefit.
This season’s opening episode of “Walking Dead” looked like an attempt to launch just such a series-reviving plot twist ploy. But we’ll have to wait to see how things develop.
A dying wish
At the opening of Sunday’s “Walking Dead” mid-season premiere, Rick’s son Carl is about to succumb to a zombie bite he received while saving a man his father wanted to kill.
A cross between the Fonz and Hitler
Alexandria, The Kingdom, The Hilltop and Junkyard communities of this dystopic world are at war with a force greater than ravenous zombies – a large, community-sized gang ironically called The Saviors. Their leader, Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), is a leather-clad cross between “Happy Days” Arthur “the Fonz” Fonzarelli and Adolf Hitler.
The Saviors force these aforementioned societies to provide them with food and material goods, while subjecting the innocent to capricious acts of violence.
The zombie-bitten Carl waxes philosophic to his father’s katana-wielding paramour, Michonne, expressing a philosophy that looks past the present crisis, “This has got to stop,” he says of the war against Negan, “it’s not supposed to be like this. I know it can be better.”
Carl tells his father:
“You brought those people from Woodbury in [after warring with their Negan-like leader “The Governor” in season 4]. You brought them in and we all lived together. We were enemies… you put away your gun. You did it so I could change, so I could be who I am now. What you did then… how you stopped fighting. It was right. It still is. It can be like that again. You can still be like that again.”
“I can’t be who I was, it’s different now,” says Rick.
“You can’t kill all of them, dad,” Carl insists. “There’s got to be something after. For you and for them. There’s got to be something after. I know you can’t see it yet… how it could be. But I have.”
Carl’s dream of post-‘Walking Dead’ nirvana
In a quasi dream sequence, Carl sees his father older and bearing a long white beard as Michonne looks on him with loving eyes. Carl’s sister Judith is older and walks with her father through a thriving community awash in bumper crops and happy, productive citizens, as a tomato-harvesting Negan smiles nearby.
Rick tells his dying son that this vision is what he has always been working towards.
Carl, of course, makes a good point. The goal of the Allies in World War II was not to kill the entire populations of Germany and Japan, but to achieve a lasting peace by eliminating each country’s out-of-control leaders. Not surprisingly, that global conflict did not end until Germany’s Hitler and Imperial Japan’s Hideki Tojo were no more.
A fight to the death
But Rick’s nemesis Negan and his lieutenants are alive and kicking, with the war seeming to have turned in The Savior’s favor.
Carl’s dream for a just and lasting peace hinges entirely on Negan’s death, with his sadistic underlings brought to a Nuremberg-trial-type justice. Until then, Rick and Negan’s war, like the second half of season eight, must go on.
Catch “The Walking Dead” Sunday nights on AMC.