Eugene Should’ve Died

I gave up on The Walking Dead a while ago, but I confess to still keeping up a bit via YouTube clips and recaps from various internet sources.

I was curious to see how they would handle the Negan thing. He is the kind of villain who sucks the oxygen out of a story-line because he’s so over the top evil, and it makes almost no sense at all that someone hasn’t killed him long before Rick and company ran afoul of him.

In a post-apocalyptic world with no rules, and virtually limitless places to retreat to, a guy like this would have met his end long ago.  You have to perform some serious disbelief suspending to believe in a world where this guy wasn’t bludgeoned to death as he slept, but in the lucrative world of serial television (and comic books because he’s still alive there too), he gets to overstay his welcome because lazy tale telling and profits overlap more than they should.

The reason I gave up on The Walking Dead though was once again starkly portrayed in it’s mid-season 8 finale.

Good seldom ever wins nor is it rewarded. The show’s main message is, and continues to be, that only the extremely violent use force will save people. Community is coerced. Decent people are subjugated. And acts of kindness and caring about humanity for its own sake will get you or your loved ones killed.

Great lessons that remarkably predate the era of Trump and the resurgence of Nazis.

Last night Carl, the teenage son of the main protagonist, Rick Grimes,  revealed at the end of episode that he’d been bitten by a walker (zombie) in the previous episode as he tried to help a stranger. The stranger in question, it turns out, is a member of the group led by the evil Negan, reinforcing the show’s main theme – being a good person means eventually being a dead one.

The young man joins other characters, whose kindness and general interest in rebuilding on the ashes of society, has earned them similar death sentences.

But it is hope that is the eternal victim in the land of The Walking Dead. Nothing and nobody is allowed to nurture ideas of a better life for long.

This isn’t the best message in the best of times, and North America is not enjoying the best of times right now, but violence and the idea that might and brutality are the only answer to every question is recycled in every conceivable way by this show, and last night’s snuffing of Carl is just one more example.

I saw a tweet today that summed up what should’ve happened. It said “Eugene should have died. Eugene should have fucking died.”

And it was right.

Eugene is a weaselly, self-serving cunt of a man. But his continued existence validates his loathsome choices, which have been largely selfish and treacherous despite the fleeting moments of self-awareness and contrition that were ultimately self-interested too.

Eugene surviving while Carl doesn’t reminds the viewer that being a good person has no reward while being a rat-bastard earns you material comforts.

And that, in a nutshell, is why The Walking Dead isn’t worth serious attention anymore. Even it’s heroes, Rick, Daryl and Maggie are relativists, who take life with as little thought as their big bad rival, Negan, does.

I haven’t watched Fear the Walking Dead since it’s first season but have seen a few clips here and there. Same thing. Good equals dead. Morally challenged or vacuous equals … hero or villain because they are interchangeable.

Having just finished bingeing on Stranger Things, I am struck by the difference in world views in two shows that both deal on the edges of societal failure but approach the human component quite differently.

And they approach outcomes differently too. The Walking Dead has given up. There is no hope. There is no tomorrow. Nothing to fight because the fight is all there is. That’s just depressing. And it’s a tedious tale.

So R.I.P, Carl. You were always a goner. Like Beth. Like Glenn and Sasha and Tyrone and Herschel. Like hope.

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