The Walking Dead is one of the most popular series on television, as well as being among the most critically acclaimed. There’s something to be had for everyone… terrifying, rotting zombies, blood, gore, action, heroes, villains, and beautiful women; to say nothing of top-notch writing, artful directing, and richly drawn characters.
You will often get well-wrought metaphors as a part of that mix. Sword-wielding Michonne had been separated from her group and was walking amongst the zombies with her two “pets”... a couple walkers she had rendered harmless through a few strategic swipes of her sword. She encounters a walker that is a mirror image of herself (violent content warning on this one).
Michonne’s fear and anger bubble to the surface, then burst out. She had realized that she was, for all practical purposes, one of the walking dead at that point. She was wandering the countryside among the zombies, keeping pace with them, as if they were her new group of comrades. Something snapped, catalyzed by the sight of her zombie “twin”, and she realized she simply couldn’t go on like that anymore. She had to be human again.
A recent episode (shown March 15th, 2015) played with the theme of courage versus cowardice. I won’t spoil any of the plot points, but suffice to say, the theme played out in a very a very stark fashion, in such a way that the episode didn’t end well for everyone.
What speaks to me the most about The Walking Dead is that it is, ultimately, a survival story. Hope is given, then taken away. People die, often unexpectedly and horribly. Good people are forced to do terrible things in order to survive. Some manage to find the better, nobler parts of themselves as they walk this post-apocalyptic landscape. Others become the basest sort of human. The core group of the show… Rick, Carl, Daryl, Michonne, Carol, etc… have bonded together as a de facto family; each watching out for the other, relying on one another for the courage that only comes from hope. The other side of that coin is where you’ll find someone like The Governor. This is a man who, as far as I can tell, was a family man and more or less a faceless corporate drone pre-apocalypse, but quickly transformed into a wrathful autocrat in order to survive. The central lesson of the series (in my view at least) is that it is possible to retain hope, nobility, and courage even in the darkest and most dire of circumstances while finding the better part of yourself.