Not Much to See Here: Thoughts on “The Walking Dead” Season 6, Episode 15: “East”

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Episode 15 of season 6 of “The Walking Dead” (“East”) was most disappointing and probably the worst installment of the season. It could have been titled: “Not Much to See Here.” The show nonetheless offered much to write upon.

The Symbolism of Maggie’s Hair Cut

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In the first few minutes of “East” we see a shower scene with Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan) that highlights her exceptional feminine beauty.

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In the last several minutes of the episode we are shown Maggie’s gorgeous long brown hair being chopped off and her ending up with a man’s haircut.  Of her new hairdo she remarks: “I have to keep going and I don’t want anything getting in my way.” On the surface, what she refers to is the possibility of her long hair getting in the way. However, what “The Walking Dead” is really telling us is that for Maggie to become successful as the leader of the group she must give up her femininity. The underlying theme behind this position is one that has been featured in other installments this season. It is the strongly held Leftist notion that women should become more masculine. A corollary is that men should be more feminine. This idea is once again given expression in the character of Tobin, portrayed by Jason Douglas. When his love interest, Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride) leaves Alexandria, he remains behind the safety of the community’s walls rather than go out after her. Before leaving this subject, I must mention that having a cast member who is a teenage girl (Katelyn Nacon as Enid) cut off Maggie’s hair made the haircut some sort of a weird goddess ritual.

Maggie as Leader of the Core Group of Survivors

This season we have been introduced to the notion that Maggie has been stepping up, has demonstrated her capacity for leadership and has been recognized by the entire group, including Rick, as being the person who should lead them. I have never missed an episode of “The Walking Dead” and yet I never recall Maggie showing any unusual leadership qualities. Rick has always been the obviously leader. Could it be that the concept of Maggie as leader has been clumsily shoehorned into the series this season because Hillary Clinton has long been the favorite for the Democrat nomination for president?

Carol, the Saviors and Firearms

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Carol again going to pieces when she encounters the Saviors represented more disheartening and non-believable out of character behavior for her. The worst was yet to come as far as a lack of believability that took the audience partly out of the show.

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Carol’s rigging up an automatic weapon inside her jacket was not just childish in its absurdity it was a downright impossibility. The same can be said for her firefight with the Saviors.

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One has to assume that the creative people behind “The Walking Dead” are typical of the entertainment industry and have never even held a working firearm let alone fired one. Such people do not understand that unless one is shooting at a very close range or has the luck of a lottery winner, hitting a human sized target is not going to be accomplished unless a weapon is aimed properly.

I explain shooting thusly: Imagine a taunt rope that extends from the center of your eye to the target. First bring the weapon up to eye level and level it along the line of the rope. This is done by closing one eye, looking down the barrel of the weapon and sighting the firearm using front and rear sights. All that is left is to exhale, hold your breath and keep the weapon as still as possible while pulling the trigger. Things get more complicated at long ranges but for the purposes of this discussion it is not necessary to go further.

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That Carol could fire an automatic weapon from waist level and considerable distance and kill two Saviors outright and wound another two seriously was laughable. It was only the most recent example of a great many instances of characters from “The Walking Dead” firing off weapons without properly aiming them and still managing to hit what is being shot at.

The idea that knowing how to handle firearms expertly is a key to survival has been a constant theme in “The Walking Dead.” It is therefore an embarrassment that the people in charge of the show apparently feel such hostility toward “those NRA types” that they have never hired one to teach the cast how to consistently wield weapons in a realistic manner. A firearms instructor could also rid the show of the numerous annoying scenes in which individuals who are dipicted as having had expert firearms training are seen holding and carrying loaded weapons in ways that are contrary to good gun safety.

“The Walking Dead” and Religion

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It is surprising that the show adopted a plot line in which Carol’s Catholicism has moved her to go to great lengths in an attempt to avoid having to do any further killing. It is unusual for television to say anything positive about Christianity and even more rare to depict the Catholic faith in a manner that is not condemnatory. After the conflict with the Saviors, Carol’s rosary is found on the ground by a surviving Savior. Has she abandoned her faith? Between the Saviors, Jesus, Morgan Jones (Lennie James)  and Carol, I still fail to see what “The Walking Dead” has been trying to tell us about religion this season. Perhaps the series’ writers are conflicted about religion and it is for this reason that they have offered us a number of different and conflicting themes about the subject.

Morgan as the Conscience of “The Walking Dead”

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Morgan tells Rick Grimes, played by Andrew Lincoln, (and the audience): “All life is precious.” I must call out the show for being hypocrites. I do so because people in television usually have very little regard for the lives of unborn children inside their mother’s wombs and consider abortion to be no more serious than cutting one’s toe nails.

Daryl Dixon

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For six years now Daryl, played by Norman Reedus, has been depicted as the ultimate woodsmen and tracker and a person who is more at home outdoors than in. It strained credibility that he could be not just snuck up on by Dwight (Austin Amelio)  but shot from behind from close range.

Ending the episode with the audience uncertain about whether Dwight has murdered Daryl was a cheap stunt that was unbecoming of a successful and wonderfully entertaining series such as “The Walking Dead.” I do not believe fans of Daryl have anything to worry about. Daryl has always been the most popular character on the program and so it seems highly unlikely that he would be killed off. There is precedent for actors on hit shows becoming bored and wanting off to pursue other professional opportunities. If this were to be the case with Reedus, I would guess that what we would see is an arrangement similar to that struck between David Duchovny and “The X-Files” as the first run of that series wound down. Duchovny wanted to leave the show but was convinced to agree to appear in one out of every three or four episodes during the last one or two seasons of the program. Duchovny’s limited appearances in the show was a major reason why the quality of “The X-Files” trailed off so much after he ceased to be a regular cast member. Because “The Walking Dead” has had an ensemble cast, I do not think it would suffer all that much if Daryl becomes just a semi-regular character going forward.

Although we do not witness Daryl getting shot by Dwight, we do see Dwight fire in Daryl’s direction and then hear a thud suggesting a body hitting the ground.  Dwight’s remark after the shot is clearly a clue to the viewer: “He’ll be alright.,” he states. Expect to see Daryl in next week’ season finale alive but seriously wounded. He will be back next season in some capacity or other.

Blood Splatter

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Just after Daryl is shot we see stage blood splattered on the camera lens. This pointless gimmick was annoying when we first witnessed it. Now it is intolerable.

I predict that next week’s season finale will be one for the history books and make us forget this very weak episode. Five days is too long to have to wait! Watch it with me and check back in with my blog if you are interested in my thoughts on the episode.

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