One of a Kind, Just Like Everyone Else.

On Virtue and The Walking Dead

I’ve been back and forth with The Walking Dead. It’s not a bad show, but it’s getting less my cup of tea, and also I really hate being able to tell what is going to happen five minutes before it happens and yet it’s supposed to be a shock. Although that may be me and not the writing. I don’t know. Doesn’t matter. Whatever the case, it’s one of the programs the roommate and I watch during the now much-truncated TV viewing time.

There are not a lot of programs we agree on. This one may cease being one of them fairly soon, as this lifelong horror fan was actually turning my head during some of the gorier scenes. I’m not turning strictly-kids-movies-and-cartoons. Far from it. But what I turned my head at wasn’t really necessary to get the story across to me.

There was a part I really liked, though, and was grateful to have witnessed. It also sets up the part I was not so hot on, but first:

So we have Aaron – who lost an arm and now has – Ash-style, I suppose – a mace where his hand used to be. And yes, I take after my mom regardless of genetics, because my first thought was, “That must be Hell to clean”, which is what my mom said about the staircase at the Hermitage during a trip we took one year to All The Places in the Southeastern United States About Which Southern Children Are Not Interested – check their brochures, fabulous stuff.

Anyway. Aaron’s mace-hand, check. Father Gabriel is also there. He is blind in one eye, I forget how. They’ve been foraging for food for the rest of their people for days, and find an old warehouse. Inside, Aaron opens a closed door and has a run-in with a wild boar (I know). Father Gabriel finds a $5K bottle of whiskey.

Gabriel waxes rhapsodic over the whiskey. He talks a reluctant Aaron into trying it by extolling its virtues and then getting Aaron to tell him what notes Aaron smells in the whiskey. Aaron names off maple syrup, vanilla, and something else I forgot because I was thinking too hard about the first two.

Soon, they are hammered, and having a deeper kind of chat, during which Aaron asks Gabriel, what, do they have whiskey (or whisky, if there was expositional malt info I missed it) classes at seminary?

Gabriel laughs and says they do, and Aaron wonders how God feels about that, in Gabriel’s estimation.

And then Gabriel explains to him that you help people one on one, and he gets into why it’s essential to be relatable (not that whiskey is the only route to that, obviously).  And he may not have stated it exactly this way, but basically, saints and perfect people are not relatable. For this reason, Gabriel figures that God’s cool with it. Stated much better than I have said it here.

And I’m so behind that idea as far as any spirituality goes, that being some sort of perfect person is counter-intuitive. Searching for some kind of hope to hang onto, and finding no one who is anything like you, who doesn’t have any of the same experiences, is alienating.

It alienates you from others, and it alienates you from yourself. And your intuition gets buried in the rubble of that pain, that loneliness.

To be separated from your inner knowing is to be lost, whether you are a religious person or agnostic or Atheist. Finding it is finding yourself. And others who have been through similar trials and tribs light the way for us in more ways than are quantifiable.

When someone has been through similar experiences, it makes those experiences feel so much less damning. It makes them feel surmountable and survivable, instead of impossible to escape.

So that was the part I really liked. Because no one is better than anyone else, but a lot of times we can feel that they are because of that condition of alienation. It’s why representation is so important, because you see someone – a real person who looks like you, or whose essence feels like your own – who went through similar struggles was able to come out the other side.

It proves that this other side really exists. Because hey, someone like you got there. It’s possible.

The good things are possible, too.

The idea of a role model is something a lot of people, regardless of their spiritual beliefs, would agree is helpful. Everyone has heroes. It’s important to make room for every type of hero, is the thing. Which hopefully is what we are moving toward every day.


Okay, Pollyanna, step off the soapbox and cut to the chase. What’s the icky part?

Turns out, the $5K whiskey belonged to Robert Patrick, the actor’s name cause I didn’t catch the character’s name. So did the boar. So now he’s Boar Guy.

Boar Guy was not very happy about this pilfering of his booze and swine, which Gabriel finds out when (saw it coming a mile away) Boar Guy pulls Aaron’s mace out of his sack.

His, uh, duffel-bag-like sack, that is.

Turns out Boar Guy is all squirrelly over some betrayal by his brother, but I missed the details. The main thing is that because of this betrayal, he killed aforementioned brother.

Oh, hey, look though –  Aaron’s okay, everyone, he’s just maceless and tied to a chair!

But hey, no, he’s actually not okay, because he’s maceless and tied to a chair. A cut later, both he and Gabriel are tied to chairs, and Boar Guy is making them choose to Russian Roulette either at their own heads or each other’s.

(I know Russian-Rouletting is not a verb, but neither is “conversate” or “boughten” and I do not say either one, so I’m hoping that’s earned me a made-up-word credit that will cover this usage.)

On with it, cripes.

Right. So. They can Russian-Roulette at their own heads or the other guy’s. Their choice.

They both choose the same way – to point the gun at themselves. Lots of teeth-gritting and sweating and hypertension ensues. It gets to the point where the law of averages is saying, that bullet is coming out of that barrel. There have been 3 or 4 empty chambers but that luck’s not going to hold out.

And so Gabriel makes a heartfelt appeal to Boar Guy.

You can come with us, he says. We will help heal you. You can live in our community, we are good people. Only more words than that, and more tension.

Boar Guy does not believe this. No, the violent monsters are who we are, is his take on life. But Gabriel disagrees.

Not us, he says. We are not like that. You can trust us. Aaron agrees. And after a bit more jumpiness, Boar Guy looks a little relieved, softens, and agrees to go with them.

Grateful and showing the first sparks of hope, he unties them from the chairs.

And then Gabriel shoots him.

Aaron is crushed and asks, why?

Gabriel says, we couldn’t take him back to camp. He killed his brother.

Well, damn, you know?

I understand why the character would think that, why not-TV-show people who live in the world might agree.

I’d really like to see us evolve out of that mindset, though. And I will fly my Pollyanna flag high because I really think our capacity to forgive remains largely unexplored.

I’m going to stop here before I paint myself into a ideological corner I’m not educated enough to get out of. <– and lookit that preposition end that sentence all sassy-like…

Pointless essay, check.