OK, I made it through Season 2 of The Walking Dead. The writing took a nose dive, the creative vision was blurry at best, and most of the characters were damaged in all the wrong ways. Still there were high points, and enough of the original show and premise remained intact to keep me hanging in there.
When I tuned in to Walking Dead, Season 3, I wasn’t sure whether I would see a show rehabilitated, or a confluence of unwatchable drivel that had backed up among the writing squad over the down months. I was pleasantly surprised. The first two episodes were not only watchable, but good. The new tack into the wind of unrepentant badassedness seemed to suit nearly all of the remaining characters. Order had been reestablished, and the apocalypse made sense again!
Then they (Them, They, the shot-callers for this goddamned thing) presented us with a complete departure from the little bit of coolness that got them the goodwill back. They built the entire third episode, “Walk with Me,” around Andrea and Michonne.
To be fair, I wanted nearly all of the characters to be eaten by zombies by the end of Season 2, but Andrea was pretty much at the top of that particular shit list. I didn’t want her to die the way I wanted Dale to die by the end of “Judge, Jury and Executioner.” Angela Kang wrote Dale to death far before the zombie got ahold of him, and he was a credible presence in the apocalypse until that point. In fact, the only thing that I could hold against Dale before that was that he prevented Andrea’s suicide.
Andrea needed to be gone because she’s irritating and implausible. She was irrational and inconsiderate, but not endearing in any way. She acted strong, in the way that weak people do to make themselves feel better. Set her alongside Shane for a moment. Did he ever once feel the need to tell everyone how tough he is?
Shane was tough. He only brought it up if he was desperate to justify some of his own, often unnecessary toughness to some less tough members of the group. Shane was all evil and whatnot, and he cracked up, and had to go… but everything about him indexed the strong, confident assholes that we all run into in real life.
Andrea, on the other hand, is at the center of a story arc that’s meant to empower women. Glen Mazzara himself has said so in interviews. It strikes me that the people responsible for her have very little experience of women in life who are actually empowered, because Andrea indexes every insecure woman I’ve met who’s trying her hardest not to be a victim. It could be that there are a lot of people who can relate to that, I suppose, but her story is fundamentally one of insecurity.
Michonne is standing right next to her throughout “Walk with Me,” by way of contrast. She’s stoic, stony, even zombie-like at times, and an equally inconceivable cartoon of a character (yes, I know the series is based on a comic book). She’s not irritating, but neither is she any sort of real. Of the other female characters in the show, Maggie stands out as having the most potential for a realistic empowerment arc.
Maggie acts like people who are walking around out there every day, and I can relate to her. She’s neither disempowered, nor is she particularly insecure, and she has room to grow. She’s with Glen who is at the center of his own unorthodox sort of empowerment story, and one that’s been quite convincing to this point. Sure, Maggie was rescued by Glen in the Malt Shoppe (or wherever), but Rick got rescued by Darryl like a dozen times in the two prison episodes without the mildest threat of being overshadowed by him. Nobody is any more independent in the zombie apocalypse than in real life, and real life is at the core of the zombie apocalypse… or else it’s just a cartoon.
There’s nothing inherently uncool about the Governor, Woodbury, or Merle 2.0 at this point. They’re all supposed to be our new friends, and “Walk with Me” was our introduction to them. It was like meeting a bunch of strangers on the recommendation of the most irritating and inscrutable people that you know. The episode did them no favors.