I have been a loyal Walking Dead fan since its beginning in 2010. I loved it so much that I have also suffered through four years of Fear The Walking Dead hoping that it may also reach the same heights. Since the inception of its daughter show, The Walking Dead has spiralled away from its own greatness.
Warning spoilers ahead!
The first season of The Walking Dead rang through as incredibly realistic. While the reunion of Rick with his friends and family may not have been realistic in an apocalypse, it can be forgiven as part of the show set up. This group functions well as a hunter-gatherer group that mirrors much of our own human history. They spend their time fighting for survival. They lose people and continue to adapt.
As the seasons continue, the group tries their best to establish a stronghold first at Hershel’s farm and later at the prison. In both cases, the group learns that they do not have the power to keep a stronghold. In a way, the group tries to leap frog over the steps in human history that lead to the stronghold. The group tries to compress roles such as farmer with that of soldier. It is unsuccessful in both cases.
The show took a drastic turn when the group makes it way to Alexandria. The group comes face to face with a community of individuals who have been sheltered by the apocalypse. Rick’s group is confronted by many of the elements of society (in the ridiculous McMansion subdivision), that they lost during the apocalypse. Initially Rick’s group tries to educate these individuals, but like all attempts at civilization in the show, it disintegrates around them.
The group does not abandon Alexandria, instead they begin to rebuild and meet Jesus – an ambassador from another community. This takes the Alexandria group into a new world of connected communities working under the oppression of another group. I enjoyed the aspect of human development that highlights the tribal nature of this arrangement; however I did not think it as realistic as it could be. I think there may be much more desertion, regardless of the seemingly endless supply of petroleum and ammunition they seem to have.
The “civilization” as created by Neegan feels awkward. Between Alexandria, Oceanside, The Garbage People, Hilltop, The Kingdom and The Sanctuary, one wonders why in the move from Georgia to Virginia the group did not encounter any other such civil arrangements. Terminus may represent one of these arrangements, but falls apart like all earlier attempts. The communities under the control of Neegan walk a tenuous line between self governance and servitude.
The evolution of the story once the group finds Alexandria turns sharply toward settlement and civilization, as if what we have now is the ultimate ascension of humanity. While working together does help people in this situation, the larger groups reduce the efficacy of individualized group concern. Thus, how the hunter-gather group functions as a family, it falls apart once civilization comes to call.