Watching Dead – 403 – Survival Guide – “Isolation”

Welcome back fellow survivors! This week we’ll be checking in on Rick and the gang to see how they did in this week’s episode, “Isolation”.

Scenario: Rick beats Tyreese to a pulp.

What the survivors did: Let the two men have it out, then break it up after a reasonable amount of time.

What the survivors should have done: Not much to criticize here. Rick and Tyreese are, broadly speaking, a fairly even match. Both went into the fight with eyes wide open, and Daryl, like a good MMA ref, broke up the fight when one brawler could no longer effectively defend himself.

I think maybe Daryl could have got in there a smidge earlier. No need for anyone to lose vision in their eye or suffer or get their orbital bones smashed in, after all. But in a zombie apocalypse, I think an occasional mutual beating can help smooth out long term tensions.

Scenario: Glenn is getting progressively sick throughout the episode. He is swooning at the council meeting, and is nearly incapacitated in Maggie and his cell later.

What the survivors did: Once he was a solid mess of contagion, he admitted himself to Death Row.

What the survivors should have done: I think Glenn is a little bit selfish here. And I’m not saying you should go to cell block “A”, where you can just make out the Grim Reaper opening his arms wide to welcome you as you walk through its dank and disease ridden doors, at the first signs of sniffle, but damn son. You’re not patient zero. You know this isn’t anything to be fucked with. And yet you put the prison council and your mate in danger by refusing to admit reality.

Again, I’m not saying off to Death Row with him, but maybe he could tell everyone that he’s not feeling well, and he’s going to go off to an abandoned supply closet somewhere for a few hours to rest and see if he gets worse. If he’s just exhausted from digging and being worn out emotionally, fine. If he gets sicker, off to block “A” with him. Not a serious infraction, more of a 5 yard penalty, repeat down situation.

Scenario: While out gathering Elderberries, Hershel and Carl are confronted by two zombies, one largely incapacitated and no real threat, another that is shuffling towards them with some sort of spring loaded animal snare.

What the survivors did: Carl was armed with a pistol equipped with his trademark home-made flashlight suppressor, and began to take aim at the snared zombie, when Hershel said “you don’t have to do that.” Carl, remembering his conversation with his father earlier, reluctantly agreed, and the two left the area with out incident.

What the survivors should have done: I like Hershel, and his speech about selfless acts of minor heroism in the face of the futility of living in this shit-hole zombie apocalypse was powerful and moving. But he’s dead wrong here. It’s like the spirit of well-meaning, out of touch, platitude spewing Dale temporarily overrode him. Why exactly are these people trying to protect these children’s innocence, exactly? Carl, who watched his mother die and put the final bullet in her head himself? Carl, who watched as his father took the lead in gunning down his little friend Sophie? Carl, who watched his father lose his fucking mind with grief in rage when he needed security and comfort?

Yeah, fuck that.

It’s one thing if Carl was expressing some sort of psychotic tendencies, but all I’ve seen is a fully justified shooting of some idiot from Woodbury who couldn’t understand that when someone points a gun at you and says “drop it” there’s a heavily implied “RIGHT FUCKING NOW OR I’M GOING TO PUT A HOLE IN YOU!!” I’ve also seen a world weariness beyond his years at some of the ridiculous choices he sees adults in this show making. Nothing crazy. Shit, if he was growing up in the Game of Thrones/ A Song of Ice and Fire universe his wise and noble father would be saying stuff like “he’s a man nearly full grown now, it’s high time he start executing criminals like a proper Lord”.

Zombies are like cockroaches, you never really need a good reason to kill them. The fact that one is in your presence is offense enough to warrant death. Except they’re large, relentless, powerful cockroaches that can kill you with the slightest bite or scratch and turn you into yet another cockroach in their army.

Oh, and one was dragging around a snare that either the group already was using to trap food or could be using to trap food. I don’t know that you want to waste a bullet on either, but I’d absolutely “kill” both. If Hershel didn’t like it, I’d use his shiny new leg to beat one of them back to death just to prove my goddamned point, and he can proceed to lecture me from the ground.

Scenario: The main source of water for the prison is a hand operated pump that is fed from a creek outside the prison walls. The intake side of the pipe/hose has been clogged by mud.

What the survivors did: Carol, motivated by guilt over her as yet not fully understood role in the deaths of Karen and David, risked herself by going outside of the fence alone to unclog it.

What the survivors should have done: Much like the fence scenario last week, I don’t have as big of a problem with the survivor’s did, but more of a problem of why they had to do it, period. My grandfather’s cabin in the backwoods of bumfuck Indiana until very recently had water supplied to it in a similar fashion, fed from a large lake my G.P. dug himself one summer when he was bored. But that’s a badass grandpa story for another day. Anyway, my grandfather, despite never finishing high school, had enough learning and common sense to understand if you suck something through a pipe that is lying on the bottom of a muddy creek/pond bed, it’s going to get fouled up with mud and generally be nasty. If I recall correctly, he solved this problem by driving a stainless steel stake through the lake bottom, tying the hose to the bottom of an old empty bleach bottle, and then ran the stake through the handle of said jug. The weight of the hose kept it submerged, the buoyancy of the jug kept it near the top of the water, free from sucking up mud, and as the water level rose and fell, the jug would rise and fall with it.

I did not mean to imply that my grandfather wasn’t smart when I said he didn’t finish high school; far from it. He had the kind of keen, demented genius that is often born of backwoods environments, whose skillset cannot be fully understood or appreciated by coastal types that haven’t ever been camping. I’m certain he could have finished school, he just wanted to skip all that bullshit and get on with his life of wrestling bears, building houses with his bare hands, forging steel, shooting guns from the hip, drinking fine scotch and spawning a race of badasses that he personally put through college.

Anyway, if my grandfather can rig up a solution within five seconds of staring at a scrap pile with no more motivation than wanting to do as little unnecessary work as possible, why can’t our crew at the prison, or more to the point, the writers think of this? Really? We have to periodically expose ourselves to mortal danger to unclog a pipe? I get it, you want to make a point with Carol and expose her to harm, and I appreciate all that, but think a little bit harder next time. The show will continue to be the better for it.

I’d frankly be terrified of what my grandfather would come up with if he was being daily harassed by masses of the stinking undead. Morgan’s murdertown from last season’s “Clear” would look positively quaint by comparison.

Again, I could harp on how nonchalant and unhurried Carol’s general demeanor was; I’ve moved with more purpose to make a 10:30 breakfast cutoff at McDonalds. But the big problem is she shouldn’t have had to be out there in the first place.

Scenario: Daryl gets hung up on the road to the Veterinary College.

What the survivors did: When it was clear the vehicle was well and truly stuck, they bailed and fought their way out.

What the survivors should have done: The group did as well as could be expected with the equipment given to them, which is not surprising given they were led by Daryl and Michonne. But next time Daryl, leave behind the sports sedan, and bring something with ground clearance. Any of the millions of work trucks America has spewed out in the last decade would do nicely, with abundant spare parts and fairly easy to make repairs. If it’s a marketing thing, Dodge makes trucks, too, you know. A 4×4 with a foot of ground clearance would be hard to get hung up on zombie faces, and as a bonus, they’d be great for going off road when you run into the weird self-made road blocks of abandoned cars that are apparently an abundant hazard in post-apocalyptic rural Georgia.

Scenario: Doctor S., stricken by the super flu ravaging the prison, coughs right into Hershel’s face. Then, to see how far he could push the old man before he snapped and murdered him, thereby putting him out of his feverish misery, coughed up and sputtered blood all over our favorite Vet’s face.

What the survivors did: Calmly wiped blood from their face, and continued to spout platitudes about self sacrifice.

What the survivors should have done: Well, I don’t know. But they could have started by COVERING THEIR FUCKING MOUTHS WHEN THEY COUGHED! Jesus Christ, my seven year old son has better illness hygiene and the extent of his medical knowledge is MEDICINE TASTES BAD!! and SHOTS HURT!! Dr. S, is, well, a DOCTOR and presumably understands the mechanics of disease transmission. What’s his excuse? Does he throw used hypodermic needles are people for laughs in his downtime? Pour urine samples in Hershel’s tea as a joke?

Hershel should have got up, unzipped, and pissed right in the good doctor’s face. “Oh you don’t like that? IT’S A STERILE FLUID!! AHHHHHH!”

All things considered, I think the group did an okay job, if you can overlook their continuing lack of serious survival prep. Join us back here next week to see if they can keep it up!