"One thing you need to know about me, Shane, is that I cannot keep secrets."
Is anyone else beginning to suspect that the writers of The Walking Dead are engaging in an experiment to see if it's possible to write a zombie show that makes its viewers feel as if their braaaaaaaaaaaains are slowly being devoured by zombies? Or is that just me?
Despite the fact that this week's episode inconceivably advanced the plot (such as it is) even less than this season's customary two-inch pace, there is a lot to talk about!
And I will talk about it ALL below the fold (on most browsers), so be warned that spoilers lurch undeadly hereunder...
First, let us start with the elephant in the oven: Lori is pregnant and she doesn't know what to do! She sends Glenn for some "morning after pills" to terminate the pregnancy. Whoooooooops that is not how Plan B works. (Little pills labeled "Morning After Pill" is also not what Plan B looks like.) Plan B prevents fertilization within 72 of unprotected PIV sex. What Lori would need is RU-486, which wouldn't be sitting around a pharmacy.
Of course, getting the medical basics of reproductive choice totally fucking wrong is hardly the biggest problem with this episode EVEN THOUGH THAT IS A VERY BIG PROBLEM. Even Glenn pointedly lecturing Lori on not making "this choice" on her own and Maggie sneeringly referring to Plan B as "abortion pills" are not the biggest problems with this episode EVEN THOUGH THOSE ARE VERY BIG PROBLEMS.
The biggest problem with this episode is that every single character treats abortion as axiomatically A Terrible, Regrettable, Horrible Choice, and insists to Lori that they know she REALLY wants this baby and should totes have it, irrespective of the zombiepocalypse engulfing the planet.
There is literally not one character who voices the eminently reasonable opinion, "Well, yes, abortion is an option worth considering, given that it will be difficult to flee from murderous zombies while you are nine months pregnant and/or carrying an infant, and given that pregnancy and childbirth can carry with them significant medical risks, even in the best of circumstances, like available hospitals staffed with trained medical personnel and a reliable source of food and clean water and a lack of murderous zombies—which is to say nothing of the fact that Alan Alda will make you SMOTHER YOUR CHICKENBABY when its wailing alerts every murderous zombie within a 10-mile radius to our whereabouts."
Every piece of readily available literature on abortion-seeking women has found that self-preservation (i.e. one's own health and ability to survive), ability to care for existing children, and ability to care for potential child are of prime concern to women contemplating termination. But none of that even makes the discussion on The Walking Dead. Nope—Lori waxes philosophical to Dale about wells of joyful memories, and never voices a modicum of concern for her capacity to provide sustenance (beyond a reservoir of happiness) to her potential child. Nor does she express any worry about her own health and safety.
And neither does anyone else: Everyone seems to feel just fine about risking Lori's life on behalf of a baby.
All of which ultimately combined into a swirling morass of gross anti-choice bullshit.
It's the anti-choice bullshit that's getting a lot of attention (and deservedly so), but I also want to note another bit of stupendous fail: During Dale's conversation with Hershel about the zombies in the barn (lulz), Hershel argues that the zombies are just sick people, and, in defense of his keeping them alive, asserts that "paranoid schizophrenics are dangerous, but we don't murder them."
People with paranoid schizophrenia are not, as a rule, dangerous. And the majority of people with paranoid schizophrenia who are dangerous are dangerous to themselves, not to other people. People with advanced paranoid schizophrenia are, like anyone else with severe mental illness, more likely to be victimized by violence than perpetrate it.
The use of this pernicious trope might have been understandable (which is not to be confused with acceptable) if it were evident that Hershel was making the comparison only because he's an ignorant dipshit with stupid ideas about everything. But that was not how Hershel was cast in the scene: He was presenting what we were meant to view as a compassionate argument from an ill-informed but well-meaning doctor whose medical expertise magically cured a boy of a life-threatening gunshot wound in two days.
There was a lot of serious narrative fail in this episode. And, even apart from the above-mentioned problems, I thought the episode stunk. I'm really feeling the void of Frank Darabont and his masterful storytelling skills at this point. It really isn't the same show without him. Too bad.