Monday, February 9, 2015

Walking Dead and the Law of CBM (spoilers for 2/8/15)

And by CBM, I mean "Conservation of Black Men."

Now before I begin, let me make something clear:  I'm not calling the writers of The Walking Dead racist. I'm NOT. They've killed young and old, black and white, male and female. It's just that I've noticed this pattern and I wonder if anyone else has, as well?

First there was Morgan Jones, in the very first episode ("Days Gone By"). He's a neat character who I wish we'd seen more of (and hopefully we will if he catches up with the group this season), but he stays behind when Rick goes to Atlanta. This gives us a Black Male Value of 1.

However, the BMV of the show doesn't change, because even though we've lost Morgan we meet T-Dog in the next episode ("Guts"). Sadly, T-Dog doesn't do a hell of a lot for his entire run and his character is never fully explored, despite being on the show for two seasons.


In the second episode of season 3 ("Sick"), our intrepid group of survivors goes to the Prison and finds several inmates inside. This is where we see the Law of Conservation of Black Men in action, as three of the characters (Andrew, Big Tiny, and Oscar) are black and, at this moment, any of them could join the group. But within that same episode, Big Tiny is killed and Andrew becomes a villain, fleeing from the group. This sets our BMV to 2.

Big Tiny

The next time we see them ("Killer Within"), T-Dog is killed by walkers and Oscar takes his place within the group. The BMV is reset to 1, and the LCBM is observed to be constant.

In episode 8 ("Made to Suffer"), Oscar is killed when the group assaults Woodbury to rescue a captured Glenn and Maggie. Later that episode, we first meet Tyreese, but he is not accepted into the group due to Rick flipping out, and so Tyreese goes to Woodbury. The BMV stays at 1 for the duration of season 3.
By season 4 I'm already aware of the LCBM, so when we're introduced to Bob Stookey I'm convinced he's going to die horribly that episode ("30 Days Without An Accident"). I think perhaps the writers are aware of this as well, and so they spend a good chunk of the season messing with us, making us think Bob is going to die at any moment: trapped under a shelf of booze to be eaten by walkers, getting alcohol when he should be getting supplies, generally annoying the group, etc.

Miraculously, Bob survives the entire season, which means that the BMV has permanently been set to 2. I think this is mainly due to the fact that Bob and Sasha make an adorable couple, and this gives Tyreese a family he can look after... which means the stakes are upped as now even more heartache can be inflicted upon these people as the things they love are ripped away.
This brings us to season 5, and in the second episode ("Strangers") we are introduced to Father Gabriel Stokes, who is both a priest (Episcopalian) and a black man. Much like Bob, in his first few episodes we wonder how he's survived this long and when he's going to die... but there's always the possibility that he can pull a Bob and increment the Black Male Value by one.  Does he?

Nope. Bob is captured in that same episode, and he's dead by the next. Both the BMV and LCBM remain constant.

In episode 4 ("Slabtown"), we are introduced to Noah. He's a bit of a statistical anomaly in that he isn't part of the group, but is rather a prisoner held by the same people who captured Beth. Later he escapes, and even later he meets up with Darryl and Carol. He doesn't join the group until episode 8 ("Coda"). BMV temporarily rises to three...

... and then, in episode 9 ("What Happened and What's Going On"), the LCBM reasserts itself and Tyreese dies in what is probably the best and most touching farewell episode ever given to a character.

Again, I'm not asserting racism. I am asserting either lazy writing or a deliberate attempt by the writers to screw with us.

Look, basically what I'm really saying is this:
  1. The moment Morgan catches up with the rest of the group, someone's gonna die (right now it's even money between competent-yet-injured Noah and  Father Gabriel the moveable feast)
  2. If the survivors ever run into another Asian male, I'm going to be very, very frightened for Glenn's safety. 

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