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The Walking Dead

Posted on November 6, 2016

Who is Ezekiel?: Hades and Androcles in The Walking Dead

Dawn

The second episode of season 7 (“The Well”) has been much and rightly praised for its exceptional storytelling, which served as a welcome relief from the brutality of the season opener (“The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be”).

I’ve read some interesting things online about how the storyline developing between Carol (Melissa McBride) and Ezekiel (Khary Payton), with his strange insistence that she take his pomegranate, evokes the Greek myth of Persephone and Hades.

This article by Ryan Folmsbee on Comicsverse is a good example and lays out how Carol’s story tracks that of Persephone.

A crucial part of the story of Persephone, though, is that it is known as “The Rape of Persephone.” Hades sees Persephone, wandering alone, and he forcibly abducts and rapes her. So when Folmsbee refers to the “love” between Hades and Persephone, it doesn’t exactly seem an accurate description of the relationship—and, indeed, in the posts I saw about the myth, the “rape” part was not being talked about. (Folmsbee gets it more right later when he says that “Persephone was not entirely on board with the idea of spending her life with Hades.”) Read more

Posted on June 16, 2016

Shock and Awe in The Walking Dead: Why AMC is Right to Shut Down Spoiler Sites

Elizabeth

Given the volatile outcry that accompanied the cliffhanger ending of The Walking Dead’s season six finale, it’s safe to say that the feelings of a sizable percentage of the show’s online fan base about AMC and the show’s top creators have been lukewarm at best. So it came as no surprise that when AMC decided to issue a cease and desist letter to The Spoiling Dead Fans, the show’s largest online spoiler site, rage almost instantaneously erupted. Fan outcry that AMC would want to shut down a site that has consistently and accurately spoiled key narrative developments is significant in what it suggests about fandom, ownership, and the way middle America consumes horror.

Before we discuss any of those things, though, let me be crystal clear. While I believe that AMC was within its rights to issue the cease and desist, I in no way excuse or support the harassment detailed by The Spoiling Dead Fans. If the abuse detailed in their post on that matter, which you should read here, is factually accurate, and I have no reason to believe that it is not, then AMC’s actions are a clear abuse of power and should be dealt with accordingly.

It’s also important that we define what actually constitutes a spoiler. A spoiler is not the same thing as conjecture. There is absolutely nothing stopping people from debating who is at the wrong end of Negan’s bat. Rather, the issue at hand, and the reason for AMC’s lawsuit, concerns confirmed intel that is derived either from copyright protected materials such as scripts or from revelations by people who have signed non-disclosure agreements. Given that The Spoiling Dead Fans has provided detailed episode synopses prior to episodes airing, it is more than likely that they have access to materials and/or credible accounts and that the knowledge they are sharing is no longer conjecture because it has been confirmed by a source.

Glenn's fate was confirmed via spoiler sites well in advance of when the episode aired.

Glenn’s fate was confirmed via spoiler sites well in advance of when the episode aired.

With those caveats in mind, I think it is worthwhile to consider more broadly how spoilers ruin the horror experience. The Walking Dead is a curious pop culture juggernaut in that its pedigree is unabashedly horror while many of its viewers are not fans of the genre. And it may be this disconnect that is fueling a great deal of the Internet rage being hurled at AMC for deigning to protect its investment.

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Posted on April 7, 2016

In Defense of The Walking Dead Season Finale

Dawn

I’ve read some of the outrage about the season 6 finale of The Walking Dead—and I have to confess that I don’t feel it. I haven’t loved every episode of the series, but I loved the season finale.

I was prepared to hate it. I heard the rumors about the impending death of a major character (who didn’t?), as well as spoilers suggesting that the episode was going to end in a cliffhanger. Someone would die, and everyone was furiously wondering who it would be.

I was ready to feel angry, to feel manipulated. But instead, I watched the episode in an increasing state of captivation—and dread. And during the last thirty minutes or so, with the entrance of Negan, I was not only captivated but I felt physically sick, dread pushing on my stomach, my chest.

Now, that’s not to say that I don’t, upon calmer reflection, have some problems with the episode. It was a little contrived, to say the least, that all the major characters, one after the other, departed Alexandria in the last couple of episodes. And the little speeches before Eugene (Josh McDermitt) and Aaron (Ross Marquand) got on the bus in the finale teetered on the squirm-inducing.

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Posted on April 4, 2016

Stay Tuned: Serialized Storytelling and The Walking Dead

Elizabeth

In 2013, George A. Romero famously told The Big Issue, “They asked me to do a couple of episodes of The Walking Dead but I didn’t want to be a part of it. Basically it’s just a soap opera with a zombie occasionally. I always used the zombie as a character for satire or a political criticism and I find that missing in what’s happening now.” While I disagree with Romero’s assertion that The Walking Dead lacks social commentary, last night’s cliffhanger ending does raise some questions as to the show’s approach to serialized storytelling.

That the show utilizes established soap opera tropes is without question. From the Rick/Lori/Shane love triangle that results in a pregnancy of questionable parentage to an ample supply of teenage angst courtesy of Carl and Enid, the show has a consistent track record of employing storytelling devices first manifested in the soap opera format. Yet, unlike Romero, I believe that this approach to the narrative is ultimately beneficial because it creates an unusually high degree of audience involvement.

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Posted on April 3, 2016

3 Clues about Glenn’s fate Tonight on AMC’S The Walking Dead

Dawn

I want to say up front that I have not read any spoilers for the season six finale of The Walking Dead, which is due to air tonight. But I have read the comics, and I don’t think there’s anyone out there at this point who isn’t anticipating the appearance of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) on tonight’s episode—along with his trusty bat Lucille. Not least, Negan and the bat have featured in the most recent trailer for the finale.

Speculation has been rife that a major character will die tonight at the hands of Negan—or, I should say, rumors are flying about which major character will die tonight.

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