Let's nitpick the WALKING DEAD's Season 3, Ep. 3

Another solid episode in what is shaping up to be my favorite season so far. We had knives thorugh heads, arrows through heads, swords through necks (making severed heads) and we had Merle!

Merele is back!Welcome back, big guy! We missed the crap out of you.

I’ve been a Michael Rooker fan for years. He crushed it in the campy horror classic SLITHER, where he became much more than just a man. If you haven’t seen that flick, get on that right away. It’s horror gold. I can’t tell you everything he’s been in, hardly, but every time his face pops up on the screen I’m down to watch.

And, of course, he was a mainstay of potential chaos in WD:Season 1. Not that the chaos is much controlled now. Rooker is the bomb at showing a man on the bring, with all kinds of bad thoughts bubbling just under the surface. I’m ecstatic to see him back in the mix.

He’s stopped being the lone wolf (at least for now) and is under the thumb of another barely sane character, “The Governor.” This dude has some issues. He’s into fish tanks. I can’t blame him for that; if I had certain appendages lying about, I’d probably want to create a blacklight back room, put on Dark Side of the Moon, and see if they mouth the words to “Money.”

David Morrisey as The Governor NITPCKING
Not much to pick on for this episode (as long as you address the blinking severed heads, which I do, below).

There was one character-based line that was ridiculous, however. When Andrea brow-beats the tour guide about townsmen stringing up zombies “like they were Christmas ornaments” outside the town, Andrea is insinuating this is unacceptable behavior. She just spent eight months with a chick that cut the arms and jaws off of walkers, and used them as zombie repellent and as pack-mule slaves! Kind of hard to believe she’d be upset by a walker dangling from a tree.

A NITPICK THAT TURNED INTO A THEORY …
“They just starve … slower.” Ha, good to know. So not only are the “dead” walking around and decomposing very, very slowly (to the tune of, what, eight months or more and they’re still a-shambling?), but they also don’t need to eat much and starve “slower.”

When you think about it, this is logically consistent. The undead generally move slower not only because they are decomposing, but because their metabolism is really, really slow. They are “ambush predators,” not hunters. Most of their kills come when the living get near them, not because they track the living down over miles and miles of territory.

So, something in the Walkers creates a really slow metabolism: this means they don’t have to eat as much or as often as we do, and any food intake will last them much longer. So far, so good on the logic front. This doesn’t touch on the fact that severed heads can live on without a digestive tract to supply energy, but we’ll leave that be for now.

CELLULAR-BASED COLLECTIVE ORGANISM?
Since we’re trying to shoe-horn a size 10 of science into a size 7 sneaker, I present you with my latest theory on the pathogen. I think it’s arguable that the writers are implementing a version of the monster from John Carpenter’s THE THING, where each cell in a body is an individual, living organism. If this was possible, and somehow each cell can act on its own, produce its own energy (or produce enough energy for other cells to continue functioning), it explains a lot. It explains why severed heads can keep functioning, why eviscerated bodies can keep crawling, and why it take so damn long for them to decompose.

Jellyfish zombieIf you go long enough without food, your body will cannibalize existing cells to keep other cells alive. What if this is the process by which the walkers keep going? It could explain why the can live for months (because the’re not really “dead,” they’re a collective organism that is slowly consuming cells for the greater good of the collective). That could arguably explain much of the rot: once an area starts to go, the collective scraps the cells in that area. Perhaps there’s enough cellular mass left after cannibiliazation for normal decomposition to kick in.

So, in effect, a Walker ceases to be a “person” and becomes a jellyfish with a skeleton. What other parts of the show’s mythos might this explain?

SPLITTING STORY THREADS: PLEASE DON’T BECOME “LOST”
We watched an entire episode that didn’t involve Rick and the others. Know what that felt like? Like watching the sudden plot developments of the “tail section” characters, then “the others” on that wacky “throw it all against the wall and see what sticks” show known as LOST.

Please, WALKING DEAD writers, don’t give us two narratives that will eventually not line up. Please, don’t give us mysteries so advertisements can say “questions … will … be … answered” and then not answer any questions. So far, WALKING DEAD is a plot-driven gem, where the story has solid consistency (although the characters make some damn odd choices).

I beg thee. Tell a good story. Know your ending before you make us sit through the middle.

Comments

  1. scottsigler

    @podakayne: What’s funny about that is the sound of flies is prominent in THE WALKING DEAD video game. The static branding scenes when you’ve fired up the game but aren’t playing yet, it’s all flies.

    The lack of flies and maggots has to be a factor in our science analysis, you’re right. That means something …

  2. rsteel02

    I’m with you. I think there is perhaps an alien satellite making
    everyone infected while is appears to the survivors the condition is contagious;-)  Did I see a blue triangle on one of those walkers in
    last weeks episode?

  3. exotiKali

    That’s an interesting theory, but mutations are random acts. The odds of everyone’s E Coli mutating in the same way are probably higher than everyone getting struck by lightening at the same time. Unless, of course, aliens are tinkering with bacterial DNA. :-)

  4. rsteel02

    That is certainly true, but zombie biology is a significant departure from the norm so it’s reasonable to suspect a sudden genetic change normal biology isn’t adapted to.  For all we know, the zombie virus could be a radical mutation of the E. Coli everyone already carries.  Could that explain why everyone has it? 

  5. exotiKali

    We live in a symbiotic relationship with the E. Coli in our large intestines right now. However, that same E. Coli can give you a wicked infection if it gets out of the digestive system. And some strains can kill you. This delicate alliance took centuries to develop, so I don’t think a new zombie disease could create symbiotic relationships for all the bacteria in our bodies.

  6. rsteel02

    Regarding the bacteria in our bodies, maybe the zombification process changes human biochemistry so that
    it’s possible to have a symbiotic relationship with the bacteria.  If
    the zombie human cells and bacteria mutually live off each others’
    cellular poo, that could explain why it takes so long for a walker to
    starve.  According to the all knowing internet, there are 10 times more bacteria cells than human cells in our bodies.

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=strange-but-true-humans-carry-more-bacterial-cells-than-human-ones

  7. exotiKali

    Have they ever mentioned if the heart is stopped in the walkers? Even if we became a multi-celled colony after turning, our cells would still need oxygen and food from a functioning circulatory system. Jellyfish are able to feed by osmosis because their skin is extremely thin – we cannot. We depend on circulating blood. Also, a human body is full of bacteria that is kept in check by our immune system. If white blood cells cannot circulate or reproduce, every cell In the body would die and rot from bacteria in a matter of hours.

    And the aquarium scene made no sense to me. Are those suppose to be his trophies? Because I believe two of the heads there were the zombie Sherpas that Michonne killed.

  8. Octopon

    My boss was in Slither. She played Brenda, the red headed chick that blew up. She said Rooker was a real jerk.