Sunday, April 28, 2013

Season One - Episode Two: Guts

New Authority in Town: Those Rules Don't Apply Anymore

When Rick decides that he is going to drive (ride horseback) to Atlanta to see if he can find his wife and son, he puts on his Deputy Sheriff's uniform.  He had the opportunity to wear any of the clothes in his house, but he chose this uniform even though he wouldn't be paid any longer to be a cop because it
Rick entering Atlanta
is so ingrained in his identity.  What is not addressed though, is the unconscious understanding of how people behave around and follow those who appear to have authority; which will be used to Rick's advantage (and it is important to note that Rick is a very good man with honorable values; I cannot commit in good faith to the idea that he is using the uniform for manipulation).

After Glenn has saved Rick, he is introduced to a group of people stuck in a building in Atlanta.  Merle stands out as the only dangerous and unreasonable character in the bunch because he says things like, "It's common sense to be polite to a man with a gun," he punches T-Dog repeatedly in the face.  He also makes misogynistic comments to Andrea about her "sugar tits" and "bumping uglies."  He's your basic redneck creep.

Merle handcuffed to roof
After Rick pulls Merle off of T-Dog, in the interest of everyone's safety, he handcuffs Merle to a pipe on the roof and leaves T-Dog in charge of watching him.  Nobody objects to his decision to do this, and arguably, other than killing him, something like this had to be done.  After this moment, the dynamic of the group changes.  They all look to Rick as the Alpha after he uses his authority
(handcuffs) to control the situation.  But they also respect him when he begins to ask Jackie, who used to work in the city zoning office, and Glenn, who delivered pizzas for a living, for advice on devising a plan to get out of the building.  Rick asks Glenn how he wants to check out the emergency flooding
system.  Glenn assigns everyone a task, under Rick's authority, and it is up to Rick and Andrea to stay upstairs in case they have to fire weapons against Walkers.

While Rick and Andrea are inside, Andrea eyes a mermaid necklace and begins to talk about how much she wants to give this to her sister when they get back to camp.  Rick asks her why she doesn't just take it and Andrea says, "because a cop is standing behind me." Rick says, "I don't think those rules apply anymore."  Obviously, they don't.  But this symbolizes so much more than just the degradation of the economy.  The truth is, Andrea would have bought the necklace if she could.  But there was nobody to pay for it, and money doesn't have value anymore.  So, nobody would be harmed or cheated in this situation.  But what is interesting to consider is the point to which she was conditioned to wait for the ethical decision, from the cop, for the go-ahead to take the necklace.  So, ironically, the rules still do apply because she is still giving a police officer authority, even though he is no longer paid by a system that no longer exists.  People only have authority when you give it to them.
Wayne Dunlap, organ donor

The plan in the sewer falls through, so the group (minus Merle) decides to hack up a dead Walker and cover Rick and Glenn in guts to create a diversion to steal a truck to get everyone out of the city.  Because Rick is now established as the Alpha in the group, he's the one who is going to chop up the body.  He lifts that axe and at first fails to cut him open.  He puts the axe down and takes out the Walker's wallet.  He begins to talk a little bit about Mr. Wayne Dunlap.  How he died with 28.00$ in his pocket and has a picture of a beautiful woman.  Glenn sardonically adds that he's an organ donor.  Rick felt the need to point out that this body used to be a man and a human like the rest of them.  And that using him to help save their lives is an important role that should be honored and respected.  He needs to be seen as the human he was, and not just a body.  Rick is still trying to preserve humanity by showing values like respect and honor and hoping that those in his group don't lose sight of that.
Rick covered in Guts

T-Dog asks Rick what they should do about Merle, in case Rick and Glenn don't make it back.  Rick tosses him the key and leaves the ethical decision up to him.

T-Dog dropping the key
When Rick and Glenn come back for the group, they are really pressed for time.  T-Dog at first turns to leave Merle on the building but Merle is screaming and begging for his life.  At the last minute, T-Dog turns to give Merle the key, but trips and drops it down a pipe.  He scrambles to his feet and leaves Merle on the roof of the building.  He chains and bolts the door on his way out.  The audience believes Merle will die of starvation or by Walkers.  This begs the question, does it matter that T-Dog's intentions were to save Merle even if he failed to come through?  What makes someone a moral person, actions or intentions?  Merle is a destructive person and not someone you would want in your last men standing party.  But it's unclear whether or not he deserved death, even in this harsh world.  It is very clear that Rick is upset that Merle was unable to make it to the truck.  The group justifies it by saying, nobody but Merle's brother is going to be upset that he didn't make it back; but it certainly wasn't the right thing to do.  It wasn't the human thing to do; and the group, try as they might, feels the repercussion of this thought and the guilt.

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