Scenario: Your prison complex is threatened by several well armed, determined attackers, backed with a TANK.
What the survivors did: Rounded up the non-combatants into a bus to move off site. Carl, Daryl, and to a lesser extent Tyreese, Bob, and Sasha effectively use suppressive fire to allow the prison population to evacuate. Maggie and Beth prove nearly useless in the firefight, with both emotionally compromised and the latter also having no fucking clue what to do with a gun. Rick gets shot and his ass beat down, with Michonne saving him in spectacular fashion before enigmatically disappearing. Daryl killed a tank with a grenade. All unnamed characters are shot within seconds of appearing on frame. Towards the end, when things grew desperate, child soldiers were employed.
What the survivors should have done: It’s hard to argue with the end result. Sure, the prison got destroyed, but the loss of life to Team Prison was astonishingly small. Hell, the loss of life to people we actually care about was zero, except for Hershel, who was dispatched in cowardly fashion by the Governor before shots were even fired.
Some have questioned (I was one of those people originally) whether Daryl really could have disabled that tank with a grenade. Apparently, depending on the Tank’s make and model, it can be done, as this video demonstrates. This illustrates the perils of a tank going into combat without close infantry support.
Also, my balls had to shout down my brain’s objections to Daryl using a zombie as a meat shield. Is zombie flesh so weak that you can peel their leg off one handed or are they sturdy enough to shield a body from multiple rifle rounds? The very same rounds that blew “clean through” Bob’Angelo?
As a general survival rule of thumb, the following is a list of things you can’t use as a bullet shield in a gun fight.
The interior of a bus
These things can provide cover, certainly, which ain’t nothing. It’s damned hard to hit a moving human being at any sort of range in a firefight, and if they can’t see you, well, now it’s just that much harder.
Rick, though. My god man. You miraculously escape almost certain death going one on sixteen plus a tank with an apparently minor wound, manage to evade said tank and fifteen of the people coming at you, and your play is to tackle the governor? You have a gun. Okay, maybe the gun is out of ammo at the moment, but still, that big-ass Python will serve admirably as a club! Lead with that! Try to pistol whip every last tooth out of the Governor’s big dumb head!
Better yet, no one has managed to notice you as they pass, and because of the crack shots of Carl and Daryl, they’re dropping like flies. Pick up a gun from one of the fallen attackers and flank their ass. They feel safe and secure, huddled behind their T-60? Not anymore, fuckers!
For all I know, the Writer’s Guild would have revoked Gimple’s membership had he not indulged us in the required mano a mano single combat between the star protagonists and antagonists, but if the end result is going to be a fairly painless strategic victory for Team Prison, I wish they’d used a bit more imagination staging it.
Then again, Daryl did kill that tank, and it was sweet. As for the child soldiers, more on them later.
Scenario: You are a well-armed, determined group of attackers backed with a tank and several SUVs and light trucks, assaulting a prison complex.
What the survivors did: Things started off fairly well, with the infantry forces slowly advancing under the cover of the tank (note: a main battle tank is a perfectly acceptable bullet shield) while trying to pick off the sharpshooters of the prison, while the quicker more mobile vehicles moved left and right to flanking positions.
What the survivors should have done: The initial battle plan and early goings looked good and then, somehow… things went to shit. I honestly don’t see how they lost the battle so badly. There didn’t seem to be enough prison defenders to hold all of this firepower off from so many different angles. Daryl shouldn’t have been able to even get close to the tank, with the troops it had protecting it from just such an attack. I can only surmise that the poor discipline of the fighting force caused them to advance out of cover when things looked like they were initially going so well.
Also, Mitch. What the actual fuck man? You do want to actually live in this prison, yeah? Then why the hell are you blowing massive holes in your new home? Especially the random ones where it doesn’t seem like you’re even targeting anybody? And even if you are, this is akin to using a shotgun to exterminate roaches from a house. Your job is to punch a hole through the fence so everybody else can get in, provide cover for the advance, and maybe breach the prison wall in a few places. Sure, the wanton destruction seemed cool, until you think about what he’s trying to achieve.
Actually, I’m somewhat surprised the Governor didn’t just murder Mitch and steal his tank. That tank would be the governor’s wet dream of safety; the ultimate in a post-apocalyptic family RV. Fill that fucker up with Beeferino and bottled water, and when trouble comes, just shut the hatch, wait it out, and hope the zombies and/or renegade survivors don’t have a Daryl Dixon.
Scenario: You’re a weak, bratty, headstrong young lady who is trying to reform yourself into a proto-badass. Your prison home is being invaded by armed attackers and somebody has told you to grab a baby and make it to the escape bus, pronto.
What the survivors did: Dropped the baby some idiot left them in charge with, get strapped, and go “regulating” on fools what need it.
What the survivors should have done: If you were said idiot that put the kids in charge of Judith, then I hope they drag you behind the bus to the next stop. Kids aren’t totally useless in a crisis situation, they have legs, a brain, and two hands to carry things a minimum. But without adult supervision, they’re worse than useless, they’re a liability.
I’m not even that mad at them, because they saved my dad, Chad “Tyreese” Coleman from almost certain death. And one thing child soldiers have going for them, especially surprise child soldiers, is man, you don’t really want to kill them, and you don’t really take them seriously as a threat because you assume they’re even more afraid to kill you than you are them. Sure did the trick on what’s his name and “Brofist” Tara’s girlfriend. So a true childhood psycho like Lizzie or Mika are shaping up to be can make some serious hay on a battlefield like this. To say nothing of my main man Carl.
Oh, man, imagine the kind of ambush you could lay with Lizzie, Mika, and Carl! Dumbasses would pull up to them, and they’d be all dirty and ragged and saying their hungry, and their parents were lost or dead, and then BLAM! BLAM! with the looting.
Wait, did I just say that? I might need to speak with a professional, between playing The Last of Us and watching The Walking Dead, I think my sense of humanity is being warped.
Anyway, one of my still functioning societal taboos is I don’t like thinking, seeing, or hearing about dead babies, so I can’t support their dereliction of duty in this regard. However, there is a silver lining. There is a fairly compelling case to be made that poor Judith survived this mess.
Scenario: You’re alone at camp with your only daughter who has been recently traumatized after a nearly fatal zombie attack. A river forms a sort of natural protective barrier to your back, but your other sides are presumably unguarded.
What the survivors did: Sit on top of an RV so you have a pretty big vantage point as a lookout… approximately 150 yards away from your little girl. She gets improbably bit by a mud walker, but still, if you’d have been over there in contact with her like any normal mother would, you could have saved her and wouldn’t have had to drag her body to the prison to give her dead body to your crazy-ass fuck buddy “Brian”, would you?
What the survivors should have done: Kinda gave it away with the “did” part above, didn’t I? Jesus, first off, do I believe, for a second, that the girl Megan, who went into a state of semi-catatonia when she saw “Brian” beat her zombie grandfather back to death just two episodes ago would be all sunshine and mudpies and kitten kisses just a day or two after being menaced by a stinking undead corpse? Hell no, I don’t. She’d have been pressed up so close to her mother Lilly over the next few days and weeks their skin would be in danger of grafting together.
And no, I don’t think anyone could have predicted zombies popping up out of the ground, Thriller style, but if you were closer to the situation it wouldn’t have mattered. You could have put a round through it’s head as soon as it started to unearth, or at the very least grabbed Megan and put some distance between you.
And it’s not just that Lilly was woefully out of position to intervene either. She allowed herself to become focused on a distant threat with almost tunnel vision, ignoring what her daughter was saying and everything else that was going on around her. Hey, there’s a zombie heading towards you across from the river? That means there are zombies in the area, maybe even a few behind you.
I’d blame Lilly except this is just another symptom of The Walking Dead writers not willing to put a bit more thought into their craft. Do they have a mom on staff? I can’t believe they did, because if they did she’d have called bullshit on this scenario on day one.
Scott Gimple/Robert Kirkman/AMC executives; next season, I really hope that in the writers room, when you consider scenarios, if someone can think of a reason it’s patently ridiculous or contrary to human nature in under 15 minutes, maybe consider going back to the drawing board? Yeah, you might have to think outside the box, but that’s when cool stuff will really start happening on this show. 15 million people watch this crazy show, think how many would pick it up if you polished this thing up a bit?
Well, that will do it for this half of the season. Thanks to everyone who backed us on Kickstarter that made the return of my weekly column possible, and thanks to everyone who read and sent me positive comments and suggestions throughout the season. If you’ve enjoyed my work, and you’re using Amazon for some of your holiday shopping needs, would you consider using our Amazon affiliate link? All through December every penny we earn from Amazon will go straight to Child’s Play to benefit sick and troubled kids in children’s hospitals and women’s shelters worldwide! Remember, it costs you nothing, it just spreads Christmas cheer! If you want to get in touch with me and Jim, you can email, Tweet, or Facebook at us. See you in a few months!