Sunday, November 20, 2016

Walking Dead recap: Season 7 Episode 5, "Go Getters"

One of the things that has kept me loyal to The Walking Dead over the years is its matter-of-fact feminism. Some of the best fighters and most strategic thinkers in Rick's (Andrew Lincoln) gender-neutral meritocracy have always been women, and they were usually toughened up by the kinds of trials that all too often turn women into skilled survivors, like the spousal abuse Carol endured or the loss of an adored child that galvanized Michonne (Danai Gurira), a somewhat passive and subordinate housewife, into becoming a latter-day ninja. Even Paula, the Savior who captured and nearly killed Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Carol in season six, gained our respect—and a soul-sister acknowledgement from Carol—for her focused ferocity after we learned that she had been a mousy, abused secretary in the pre-walker world who seized on the apocalypse as her chance to stop eating so much as one more morsel of paternalistic shit, even from her own men.

It’s probably no coincidence that Alexandria, the latest and best appointed of the havens that Rick’s group has encountered, was established by Deanna, a woman who turned out to be a much fairer and wiser leader than any of the male leaders that the group has run into, with the possible exception of Ezekiel. And while there’s no talk of female empowerment per se in the series, the misogyny that often permeates the communities that Rick’s people come across is never taken for granted. It’s treated as a sign of corruption and moral weakness when Negan leers at yet another cowed woman he’s about to add to his reluctant harem, or when Gregory (Xander Berkeley) tries, in this episode, to coerce Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) into “earning” permission to stay on the Hilltop until Maggie’s baby is born by having sex with him. As Thomas Paine might put it, if he were alive and woke today, these are the times that try men’s and women’s souls, and The Walking Dead knows that a society that marginalizes half its members in times of crisis is crippling itself.

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