A friend of mine had asked me during dinner if I ever watched The Walking Dead so I decided to watch it on Netflix after the school semester was over.
One of the most remarkable aspects of The Walking Dead is it’s character development. This isn’t merely a show about zombies. It’s a show that emphasizes on morality and survival.
There was a particular character death scene in the season four episode “Too Far Gone” of The Walking Dead that occurred during its earlier running that drew my attention given it’s hidden implications and associations that are relevant to themes of morality and character development.
The Governor and his newly formed group infiltrate the prison with his two captured hostages, Hershel, and Michonne. Hershel gave moral guidance to Rick. Rick accepted his advice and redeemed himself as the person he once was before. Notably, Rick promised The Governor and his group that they could live within the prison since Rick perceived the goodness within everyone in the scene. Rick genuinely believed in the goodness of everyone, while The Governor clearly did not. During the few crucial moments, Rick continues to plead with The Governor in releasing Hershel and Michonne. Unfortunately, The Governor grows strongly agitated, resulting in him holding Michonne’s katana to Hershel’s throat. Rick gazes down at Hershel and Hershel nods with approval which meant Rick made the right decision to have faith in humanity again. Hershel smiles when Rick reaffirms Hershel’s moral virtues of peace and that people are capable of changing into better beings. We can then see The Governor put down the katana. However, he stops momentarily and murmurs “liar“. This leads to The Governor killing Hershel by decapitation. The Governor did this due to his failure to recognize the goodness of mankind. He did not see Rick or his inhabitants of the prison as good. He merely saw the goodness of his daughter, Penny, and his new companion, Lily. More importantly, The Governor did not believe that he and Rick had the means to forgive. Hence, the brutal murder of Hershel served as a punishment and example that Rick Grimes was wrong in believing the goodness of mankind.
The impact of Hershel’s death by the cunning, highly intelligent, and cynical character of The Governor changes Rick Grimes’ character further in the series. As the series progresses, Rick becomes increasingly ferocious and skeptical of others. Rick ultimately loses hope of humanity, resulting in drastic shifts in his moral compass. These changes in his moral beliefs result in him believing the worst of humanity and people’s motives. Significantly, Rick initially beats up Alexandria recruiter Aaron in the season five episode “Distance” due to Rick’s skepticism and mistrust of an outsider offering shelter and security. Despite being knocked out by Rick’s attack, Aaron continued to see the goodness of Rick and his group. This is reflected by Aaron continuing on putting his own life in danger when he perceives something positive and beneficial can result from his presence at the barn. Rick’s suspicions illustrate that he is also becoming cynical like The Governor. Rick’s skepticism, however, does sometimes save himself and his group. For example, when Rick noticed that the items under the possession of Terminus survivors actually belonged to his own group, prompting immediate intervention. But more interestingly, Rick Grimes had evolved into more of a character like Shane Walsh where Rick is now more inclined to commit violence to keep his own group safe when he viewed anyone to be a threat, but Rick simultaneously maintains his strong leadership skills that Shane also possesses.
The Walking Dead is a sophisticated, proficiently written and directed show. Hershel’s death scene among other scenes of The Walking Dead television series emphasizes phenomenal character development. Moreover, the substantial character development along with marvelous storylines and psychological themes make The Walking Dead a standout from other television shows these days. When we watch The Walking Dead, we become infused. If the focus of the show were just on walkers turning humans into walkers, every viewer would experience detachment to the series since we wouldn’t care about the humans. It’s when we care about the characters that keep us interested in the series. With Hershel’s sudden demise, I was genuinely sad. The writers do a great job making the viewers like a character and then killing one unexpectedly, resulting in the perception that the world of The Walking Dead is surrounded with uncertainty and suspense. Therefore, the writers produce so much pressure and develop every character with careful precision, which the final outcome becomes truly compelling. I look forward to watching the new season airing in October. The question is who did Negan kill?