Sunday, October 23, 2016

Walking Dead recap: Season 7, Episode 1, "The Day Will Come When You Won't Be"

My husband used to fret that I was convinced civilization was about to collapse because I watched zombie movies, but he had it backwards. Having grown up in 1950s and '60s Detroit, I saw firsthand how fragile even apparently solid social infrastructures can be, and ours seem particularly vulnerable these days. To pick just three existential threats out of a very large hat, hackers are poised to shut down the Internet, a foreign dictator plays chicken with nukes while an American presidential candidate keeps asking why we don't use ours, and a global refugee crisis makes homelessness in New York City look manageable by comparison. That's why I love stories about the zombie apocalypse: They're a safe way to explore my fears about the breakdown of society, and to imagine how we might rebuild our lives and create communities after a major disaster.

One of The Walking Dead's most consistent strengths is the social systems it conjures up, with Rick's (Andrew Lincoln) group representing one reaction to the collapse of civilization—creating a family-like community of warriors—and every other group they come across representing another. As season seven of the series opens, Rick's group is aware of more human colonies than ever before—not just their gated community of Alexandria, but also the Hilltop. And then there's the ironically named Sanctuary, the roost ruled by Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), a murderous psychopath so powerfully evil that his systematic breakdown of Rick's group in this episode could barely bear watching. Read the rest on The House Next Door

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