May. 3rd, 2016

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Fear the Walking Dead

has no Gimple but those it does have have studied at his feet, so it's not bad. It came in with a plan. The first season's about fear, as promised, and though every episode of both shows is as well it did cover fear proper pretty well - panic at the unknown and the most immediate, obvious reactions that that panic inspires.

The second season's about the 1% and how they get away with what they do in this or any Regilded Age. Dunno if they're doing something with the proximity to Orange County? Or is that ten or fifteen years out of date as wealth epicenter? Presumably Silicon Valley's now worse, but depicting zombies milling around Cupertino or whatever would be ... well, probably done by now. Anyhow, Strand's name is apt: a single thread of hope, a promise of a distant shore.

"When there's blood on the streets, buy land" not just because panickers will sell cheap, like in New Orleans ten years ago, but because they'll buy dear. The show's mostly about the aggressively middle class protagonists paying a high ethical price to keep the dream of long-deferred security alive.

The junkie son thus has an interesting role, as representing everything they're terrified of sliding into. He's presented both as the most emotionally well-adjusted character, post-apocalypse, and as pretty much analogous to the walking dead themselves. I'm not sure how well that can be made to work, long-term; I guess the point is that those like him are not actually dead while alive, but is just viewed that way by the bepanicked bourgeoisie, who hope serving the rich will keep them from catching the various ailments of the Other.

This abandonment of fellow feeling worsens and spreads those, of course. Zombies are multipurpose symbols on both shows, but what they represent tends to break down into either the characters' own lizard brains (primitive flavors of fear, selfishness, despair) or the things our moments of lizardhood makes of those around us. Or both, of course - our thoughtlessness can extinguish thought in others.

Choice enters the picture only with information. I think we're to understand the son has this? If there's an indoctrinated 10 percent (feels like more these days, but who knows) perhaps there's some other percentage who can know as much of the truth as they like since no one will believe them anyway. Strand's use of him reflects how the richest benefit by the scariness of his sort's example, and their rapport the fact that both are free of the social pathologies of those on the slicked slope in between them.

I think the show's also been teasing the possibility that the zombie disease was created by the powerful and tested on junkies - his girlfriend may have been Patient Zero. Whether intended as a Purge type thing or just an example of how the callousness of elites unravels the social fabric, thus brings them down too in the end (not an awful lot of them, though, eh?), I think we're to understand Strand had some kind of knowledge about this. Or perhaps some junkies are immune? Violence comes out of the lower depths, but so does true good, since the knowledge that we're animals can create sympathy as well as / because of disillusionment?

Strand, too, seems to have come from the bottom. A world where suffering made people reliably good would quickly run out of suffering, I guess. Ours hasn't, therefore poverty can be what Shaw and Wilde said it is, with their different inflections: a corrupting force. But of course wealth is also corrupting, and maybe part of what corrupts poor people (Strand's appreciation for "the finer" stops with the modifier, and since he's making another - apparently eventually successful - pass, we're led to suspect he means not just things but also people, because he feels like he should be one of them).

So who is right, Hobbes or Locke? Locke, when people know enough. But since they don't? Sufficient knowledge is the way out, but everyone just has partial. The junkie knows what's right but not how to achieve it, the rich how to achieve anything by delegating and manipulating but not what's right anymore, while those in the middle are caught in an endless guilt/rationalizing alternation.

Probably the show runs out of gas when the middlers mature, so the path to sufficient knowledge will remain closed in the meantime. They'll have to hint at one, though. But can they keep that distinct from the flagship show's, which is apparently that of Morgan? The second half of WD S6 plunged into economics a bit, but a bit more micro than macro, despite the "larger world" slogan. Still seems dangerously close, though. To the crazy number of rules WD makes itself follow FtWD must add not repeating WD.

How can that not eventually sink it? So far that's its single largest suspense source, for me.


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