Watching Dead – 407 – Survival Guide – “Dead Weight”

I’m sorry in advance if I going a little easy on this week’s episode.  Every time I tried to get the bile flowing, it got choked off with general holiday good cheer.  You try to get in a nasty, cross-grained bastard frame of mind when you’re smelling fresh oven roasted turkey and candied yams!

Scenario: Your leader is discovered dead in shady circumstances the day after a mysterious stranger, wearing an evil guy eye patch no less, drifts into camp.  He seems all figidity about discussing his past, and your leader and he appear to have a shared history, not all of it good.

What the survivors did:  Totally did NOT suspect the drifting stranger with the evil eye patch.  In fact, the new leader is going to try to recruit him to be his trusted mentor and advisor!

What the survivors should have done:  For fucking real?!  Like, I’m not saying the camp should have all been pitchforks and torches at this point, but… a sharp divide among leadership and citizenry that has to be put down with more than a mealy mouth promise of some sort of election process in the near but non-specified future seems to be in order.

I’ll tell you what, this goes down in my camp, there’s going to be more than just “Brian Heriot” fleeing in the middle of the night.  Why would anyone stay when you have a fundamental breach of trust like a leader being killed under suspicious circumstances?  It’s really puzzling when you think of Martinez’s rule of everyone must contribute, no dead weight.  That implies everyone in this group is useful and a survivor in their own right.  I’d think they’d be less cowed than your average post-apocalyptic group.

This is something I harped on a few weeks ago regarding Rick going rogue on meting out punishment to one of their council members.  You need leaders who rule with the consent of the governed to be effective, and part of that is to have a clear chain of succession as well as a process to replace leaders when they become ineffective or dead.

By the way, this could have been avoided if they followed the golden rule of integrating new people into your group.  They have to be shadowed at all times by people keeping an eye on them to make sure they’re not exactly the kind of crazy that the Governor is.  Martinez violated that rule when he turned his back on him while golfing.  No attempt was made to shadow him after Martinez was murdered, which is how he killed Pete.  It’s madness, and it’s hard to believe a man with the pedigree of Martinez, who has seen THE GOVERNOR HIMSELF do terrible things, would let his guard down like that.  

Scenario: You find another survivor camp living in the middle of the woods, close to your own camp.

What the survivors did: After a brief debate, about if they should kill the other group and take their stuff or merely rob them, newly minted leader Pete decides to avoid the other group entirely.

What the survivors should have done:  Why wasn’t the option of this group joining yours ever mentioned.  It would be one thing if these survivors were emaciated, disease ridden, and disorganized.  You know, like Rick’s group.  But these guys appeared well fed, dressed out of the latest L.L. Bean catalog, and thriving.  In fact, it’s almost like these guys were cast off a local cattle call and told to bring their own rugged outdoor gear.  You’re worried about feeding these mouths?  They’re feeding themselves, dumbass, why wouldn’t they contribute to your group.

Still it’s a sticky situation, maybe their thriving because they’re robbing groups like you.  It’s kind of interesting to think about, the social implications of living in a social construct like this.  I suspect it would play out like world history always has; when two groups of strangers meet up and squabble over territory, the smaller, less equipped one gets either absorbed by the larger one, or wiped out.  For more information, ask your nearest Native American.  

I think Pete should have hung around to get a count of how many people were in the camp, and who their leaders were, what their habits were, how many weapons they had and if they looked comfortable using them, etc.  If Pete had more numbers and better guns and gear then he makes contact with force the next day, and asks if they want to join up.  If they don’t, ask them if they want to setup some sort of trade relationship.  If they refuse that, well, they’re always small pox ridden blankets and massacres based on flimsy pretenses to fall back on.

Scenario: Your camp is descending into madness, much of it caused by you.  You decide the time to get out is tonight.

What the survivors did: Phillip/Brian rounded up Lilly, Tara, and Megan, as well as Tara’s new love interest, and fled the camp under cover of darkness.  He took what is apparently the only road out of camp, but had to stop when he came across a road flooded with mud that had about 100 zombies stuck in the mire.  This was too much for the Governor, who promptly turned around and went back to camp.

What the survivors should have done:  First off, what is with this craziness of bringing along Tara’s girlfriend?  That is such a huge risk to bring in an outsider like that.  What if she had told some of her friends?  What if she refused and alerted the rest of the group?  I’m guessing joining these groups at this point is kind of like the mafia, in that no one would let you leave because the risk of you finding another group and leading them back to your former one is so great.  Unless, you’re Rick, and then, what the heck, banish people left and right.

Second, if it’s of prime importance to get out of the camp that night, why would a stretch of zombie infested mud stop you?  You can’t just drive around them?  Get out and walk?  The governor just pointed out last episode that it’s relatively easy to find a working car in the apocalypse, and that seems to be our experience with them on the show.  It just seems that if on the one hand, you had to flee with your family or stay in a camp and murder a few more people and lead them all on a campaign against a tough foe in a fortified location where a lot of people are going to die on both sides, and you choose to go back because you had to stare at some mud for 60 seconds… I guess that’s why people describe the Governor as “insane”, “psychotic”, and “fucking crazy”, huh?

Scenario:  A mysterious stranger that has cut a swath of death and destruction throughout the leadership of your camp offers to make you his second in command.  After he killed your brother, that is.

What the survivors did:  Act like they just ate some bad Chinese buffet food, and reluctantly agree to go with the mysterious stranger’s plan.

What the survivors should have done:  Smile.  Nod.  Agree to go along with the Governor, and as soon as he turns his back on you, you murder him, and then you have two choices.  1) Tell your group the truth, that you discovered that he killed your brother.  Seems like that should be enough.  Or 2), make shit up.  Say he tried to jump you on a run, and it was him or you.  Say he died bravely out on a run.  Apparently these rubes will believe anything.  Either way, you can try to use this tragedy to mold the group into a shape of your liking.  If you go with a version of the truth that makes the Governor a bad guy, you can stress the importance of vetting strangers going forward.  If he dies a hero, either by a zombie or a hostile group of survivors, you can play the “we must remain vigilant” card to make people work harder to beef up camp defenses and help out on supply runs and patrols.

I don’t know what your own brother would have to do before letting a stranger murder him and then offer yourself as your henchmen to the stranger killing him becomes an attractive option.  Maybe there’s some dark scary shit in their family history, but goddamn.  Mitch is a man without a country at this point.

That’s all I got for this week.  Hopefully next episode they can bring this mid-season in for a successful landing, or else things might get ugly at Bald Move HQ.  I hope everyone in America is enjoying their time off with friends and family, and for the rest of the world?  Well, I hear you guys average over five weeks of paid vacations while we’re worked to our wretched bones, so don’t feel too bad, okay?  But if you don’t have a national “gorge yourselves on food and pass out just because you can” day, I highly recommend it.

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