Monday, March 21, 2016

The Walking Dead, Season Six, Episode Fourteen: Twice as Far

The beginning of the episode seems to show just how routine life has become in Alexandria. A haunted Carol sits on a porch swing chain smoking and giving the occasional kiss to Tobin. The food pantry is opened up by Olivia, and Morgan works out with his staff before building a jail to give the community options. Darryl works on his bike which he has clearly retrieved from the woods.

For most of this season, we really haven't seen a lot of Eugene.  We know that he has changed quite a bit because he went out and fought with the group when the walkers invaded Alexandria. Eugene has even put his mullet into a ponytail, something that no one really needed to see.  Eugene wants to show Abraham just how much he has changed.  The two men go to a business that Eugene wants to convert in order to make bullets for the community.  Abraham is absolutely impressed with Eugene's ingenuity.  When a walker appears behind Eugene, he is eager to take it out to show Abraham his new skill. Unfortunately, the walker proves a little bit too much for Eugene to handle and Abraham steps in.  This is were the buddy movie changes.  Eugene is pissed off that he wasn't given the chance to prove just how skilled he is now and Abraham thinks that Eugene should stick to things he is good at like making bullets. When Eugene declares Abraham's services are no longer required, a pissed off Abraham storms off, leaving Eugene to find his own way home.

Denise, approaches Darryl and Rosita to take a road trip. Having remembered seeing an apothecary, Denise wants to check and see if there are drugs there that the community can use. There's a lot of foreshadowing of what eventually happens to Denise in this episode and we see her struggle with her fear.  Though Denise has become important to community in the wake of Pete's death, she still has so much to prove to herself.  Denise hasn't been outside of the walls and even as everyone was fighting off the walker invasion, Denise was busy saving Carl's life.  For as competent as she has become medically, in terms of dealing with Walkers, Denise still doesn't have much experience.

Denise risks herself to get a cooler out of  a car, wondering if there might be something in it the group can use.  Darryl and Rosita come rushing over to save her but Denise warns them off and after a bit of a struggle, Denise manages to kill the walker.  For her trouble, Denise is rewarded with the soda she asked Darryl to get for Tara a couple of episodes ago.  Both Rosita and Darryl believe that the risk Denise took was senseless.  It is then that she explains that she had to do this because she knew that Tara had gone off on a run from which she might not return, yet she was afraid to go with her and afraid to tell Tara that she loved her.  Denise is adamant in her belief that people have to face their shit in order to live and that this was her way of doing it.  Right in the middle of her impassioned speech, Denise is shot through the back of the head by Dwight.

We have to pause.  I know that in the comics, Denise had already died by this point but that being said, what The Walking Dead (tv show) did with Denise is absolutely awful.  First off, they changed Denise from straight to a lesbian character, a change which I approved of before they decided to so cavalierly kill her off. Why change the identity of a character only to kill them off? It's particularly enraging that Denise had the typical epiphany moment before dying, thus turning her death into yet another trope laden gay death moment.  The Walking Dead has had a habit of just killing off its marginalised characters (T Dog chain anyone?) and justifies this by having the need to trim its large cast and keep alive the illusion that anyone can die.  The truth is, the idea that anyone can die is an absolute falsehood when we consider just how many marginalised people The Walking Dead has chosen to sacrifice.

 In terms of LGBT characters, right now we have Tara, who is off on a run, Aaron who has barely had much to do since bringing Rick et al into Alexandria, Aaron's husband Eric, who has virtually disappeared and Paul Monroe AKA Jesus, who while gay in the comics has yet to have his sexuality revealed on the show.  Recently, with the exception of Paul, none of these characters has gotten a lot of attention.  So, technically up until killing Denise, The Walking Dead had five GLBT characters but none of them were vital to the story.  In fact the majority of them had been fridged in one fashion or another.  Denise may only have presented 20% of the LGBT cast but she was arguably one of the most visible recently.  There are no story reasons that can explain Denise's death and despite the fact the creators like to claim that there's no bias built into who lives and who dies, the dearth of LGBT characters who have highly visible roles says something, just as the decision to kill Denise off says something.

Denise's death also fits into a framework of GLBT characters who seem to overwhelmingly die on television shows. From True Blood to The 100, these characters are simply killed off in ways that don't make sense whatsoever.  They die when they find happiness, they die when they've had an epiphany and they die when they've found love.  The only reason Aaron is probably still alive is that they haven't found anything for him to do yet.  I would bet when this happens, Aaron will be off for the big sleep. Creators can choose until the end of time to justify the death of their characters as occurring for story reasons but when the people who seem to be dying the most are marginalized in some way, there's more to it than that.

Back to the episode.  Dwight, who has clearly had his face ironed, is someone Darryl regrets not killing when he had the chance.  Dwight and his men have captured Eugene and demand that Darryl and Rosita escort them back to Alexandria, so that they can have their pick of the Alexandrians possessions.  Eugene spots Abraham hiding behind some oil drums and calls Dwight's attention to him.  A gun fight ensues and Eugene offers a distraction by biting down on Dwight's crotch.  Many of Dwight's men are dispatched forcing him to flee.  When the smoke clears, Eugene is lying on the ground, forcing Rosita, Abraham and Darryl to carry him back to Alexandria but hey, Darryl got his crossbow back.

We absolutely haven't seen the last of Dwight, particularly given that he makes it clear that he knows exactly where Alexandria is and that he covets their possessions. Instead of heading things off with the Saviours, the Alexandrians have clearly opened up a kettle of worms which is going to have to be dealt with.

It turns out that Eugene was only grazed by the bullet and Rosita uses the medication Denise led them to to stave off an infection.  Eugene and Abraham make up and Abraham finally admits that Eugene has indeed changed and is now a survivor in his own right.

Carol leaves Torbin a Dear John letter.  It seems that she had decided to leave the community because she cannot kill anymore.  Carol believes that if she loved Torbin, she would one day have to kill for him and since she is no longer willing to do that, she has no choice but to leave. Carol has come to realise that in an apocalypse there's always going to be a threat which needs o be dealt with She asks Torbin not to look for her. Yes, this is the second time that Carol had been fridged and I for one am not happy.  This means that in the space of one episode, The Walking Dead has disappeared two women.  I think that it's telling that Abraham or Eugene's stories weren't cut short. Why is it that the women had to die or leave the group.  Yeah, story reasons I know but I am calling this all a crock of shit.

Abraham goes to see Sasha and mentions that she has choices to make.  It's clear that he's hoping that now that he has officially broken up with Rosita that something will start between him and Sasha.