Friday, June 8, 2012

The Walking Dead and Complex Characters

Today I was thinking about The Walking Dead series. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it's because there's a lack of things on to watch now that all of the reality shows my wife and I watch are over for the year, and it's been a while since I saw a zombie's brain get splattered into a red, gooey mist behind him/her/it.

I really enjoyed that show, not because of the zombies or the special effects (though they were both bad ass) but because of the characters in Rick's group. They each came with their own stories, their own flaws, their own beliefs. Let's face it...a zombie flick is a zombie flick. Don't let them bite you, shoot them in the head and it will all be okay. There has to be something special to pull me in, and with this show, it was the constant interaction between the characters that did it. It was how they dealt with the loss of the only society familiar to them. Here they are, their families dead, their lives up heaved, the game changed forever.  Yet they manage to carry on and work together in order to survive in a world where they are the pray.

Without a doubt, my favorite character was Shane. Yep, Shane...the one who slept with his best friend's wife and tried to steal his family, the one who sacrificed Otis to keep his own skin from becoming zombie fodder, the one who tried to kill our hero Rick. Yes, he was an doubt. But more than that, he was a very complicated character. I could never justly place him in either the evil villain or good guy category.

Everything he did, no matter how much we despised him for his actions, could have been rooted with just cause. The intriguing thing is that we will never know. Before leaving Rick's hospital room, he blocked the entrance so the zombies couldn't get in...a gesture of someone who clearly means to protect his friend the best he can in that moment. At the same time, he beds Rick's wife and takes on the role of husband and father. But if he truly believed Rick to be that such a bad thing? Only Shane knows his true intentions.

He volunteered to go with Otis to the high school to get the life-saving supplies to save Rick's son. He didn't have to, but he cared enough for Carl, Lori (and even Rick) to go. If Shane didn't kill Otis, both Shane AND Otis would have surely met their end, and without the supplies Carl would have probably met his too.

Throughout his time on the farm, it seemed that his goal was to protect the group and especially Rick's family. Yes, his ways were often crass and/or inhumane, but he felt the situations that faced them deserved such cruelty. He truly believed Rick's methods were inferior, and that they put the group at risk. A lot of times, he seemed to be right. For example, if he didn't kill the zombies in the barn, they could have escaped and infected the group, and zombie-Sophia, the missing little girl who they were searching for for the entire season may never have been found. Shane was one of my favorite riddles to try to solve every episode.

As I said before, my favorite part of writing is fleshing out these types of characters, giving them the ball and having them run with it in a pattern that only they understand. Maybe they will get to the end zone...maybe they won't. Regardless, it is one hell of an experience trying to get them there, as I hope it is for the reader to bear witness.

That's it for now. Thanks for reading!

- Tim

1 comment:

  1. I also loved Shane, for all the same reasons. The show would have been nothing without him!