Last night, AMC’s hit drama and zombie spectacular, the Walking Dead returned with their midseason premiere. On social media I saw a lot of “ERMAHGERD! The Walking Dead is back!” before the show started.
After it was over there was mostly silence.
There was a lot happening in this episode but it wasn’t all swords and guns.
This episode felt more about belonging to a tribe and it was told really well through Carl and Michonne. But before we get to that…
Fair warning: SPOILERS after the break. If you haven’t watched last night’s episode, I WILL RUIN IT FOR YOU.
For the rest of us, let’s soldier on.
When we last left the survivors they were fractured by the dictator formally known as Governor and his attack on the prison. They were all on the run and the episode was called “Don’t Look Back”.
The episode focuses on just two of the stories: Rick and Carl, and Michonne.
With the Rick and Carl story line, Rick was essentially unconscious most of the episode but Carl really showed us an interesting side.
We saw teenage angst. Dislike for his father. A hunger for a childhood that was ripped from him. You could see he missed being a kid by the way he looked at the Xbox and video games in the scene where he and Rick first find shelter. It was also everywhere in his “I win” statements.
Carl wanted to be both a kid and a grown up, independent man at the same time and that led him to take risks that nearly cost him his life.
When he finally returned to “sleepy” Rick, Carl was changed. He realized he couldn’t do it alone. Or maybe just that he didn’t want to. When he thought his likely punctured lunged father had turned into a walker, Carl felt it would be better to die with his dad than survive alone.
Michonne on the other hand was someone who had made it before on her own. She had a hard time trusting and opening up so when the prison feel and she found herself alone, she went back to old habits.
She created some new “pets” and began surviving again because that’s what she does best. Even after seeing Rick and Carl’s footprints, she goes it alone anyway. Maybe because that is what she thinks she does best anyway.
Eventually, through crazy dreams about loved ones from before the outbreak and an eerie walker twin, Michonne snaps. She wipes out a small herd of zombies. And it was good.
What made her snap? What took the stone cold, emotionless, sword wielding Michonne and broke her to the point of tears? I believe she saw in her twinsie zombie who she could become on her own.
And she hated it.
She knew she didn’t have to be alone anymore. She didn’t have to be so brave anymore.
The idea of being alone again became too much. Why be alone when you can belong?
Michonne back tracks, finds the tracks again and the episode ends with Michonne knocking on the door of Rick and Carl’s safe house and Rick looking at Carl smiling then saying “It’s for you.”
From the very beginning of Scripture in Genesis 2.18 we read that God said “It is not good that the man should be alone.” which makes sense when we consider Genesis 1.27 “So God created man in his own image.”
God lives in community as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
We are created in his image.
So we are created to live in community as well.
Loneliness is soul draining. It may seem awesome to be fully independent as Carl wanted to be, but as Michonne’s story shows us, it can’t be done forever.
Every person has a limit.
Both Carl and Michonne learned by the end of the episode that they were created to live in a tribe. A like minded, imperfect tribe.
This episode flies in the face of a culture that tells us you need to be on your own. A culture that sees dependance on anyone or anything as a weakness.
That’s why I loved this episode. It may not feel like it advanced the plot forward a whole lot but it definitely reminded us that these people are…people. And as people, they cannot live alone. They need a tribe.
I’m hoping this episode reminds us that we too need a tribe. We are people who need God and a tribe to belong to.