Closure on The Walking Dead

Sasha, Carl, Michonne, Maggie, Rick, Eugene, Daryl, Rosita - The Walking Dead

Spoiler alert! I will be discussing season seven episodes of The Walking Dead, including the most recent ones, so if you are spoiler-averse, you might want to look away!

You are probably wondering why I am just talking about season seven of The Walking Dead. Certainly, of all the shows on TV, this one has had more than its share of loss over its entire run – including in the major character category!

However, season seven of The Walking Dead has been for me one of deep emotions and trauma, and in my mind at an unprecedented level. The events of the premiere episode have left the characters on the show and the viewers struggling. We all suffer from the need for extensive therapy and oh, yeah, closure.

As you would expect, each character has different needs and methods of achieving closure. I would like to discuss some of the characters and their unique ways of dealing with the grief, regret, and fear after that traumatic night. Watching the different characters has been a fascinating study in the different ways people use to deal with seemingly unbearable trauma.

Daryl
 

Daryl - The Walking Dead

Daryl did not have an opportunity to fully process what he experienced that fateful night, being dumped into the group as a prisoner and then whisked away again immediately after, still a prisoner, subjected to days of continual torture. Sure, he likely did think about the events of that night – probably anguishing over Glenn’s death, especially after a picture of Glenn’s remains was given to him by Dwight. But, it was not until he reached Hilltop and was faced with interacting with Maggie that he was forced to begin processing his guilt. At first, he seemed to studiously avoid her, loathe to even make eye contact. But, after circumstances forced him to interact with Maggie, her insistence that they clear the air helped him express his deep regret and elicit her forgiveness so he could move on.

Rosita
 

Rosita - The Walking Dead

Rosita was fully engulfed with anger and the need for vengeance from the get-go. This manifested itself as an almost death wish as she sought to find a way to kill Negan. She drew Eugene into her plan by forcing him to make her a bullet, which then leads to Eugene being taken prisoner by Negan, starting him down his own new path. In addition, she drew Sasha into her virtual suicide mission, ending with Sasha’s capture. It remains to be seen how Rosita will cope with whatever does ultimately happen to Sasha.

Eugene
 

Eugene - The Walking Dead

Eugene has always been an interesting character. A cowardly, geeky man, he best fights with his words; a tactic of limited use when coming up against the Saviors and Negan. He was truly terrified that night and remained in that state even after returning to Alexandria because of Rosita’s insistence he make her a bullet. When his worst fears were realized and he was taken by Negan and the Saviors, his level of panic reached new heights. However, this state of panic seems to have been transformed from that of a meek mouse into a large and in charge, bossy figure of authority. It is my opinion, supported by his conversation with Sasha in the penultimate episode aired March 26, 2017, once he realized that because of Negan, he never needed to be afraid again, and in fact was now able to instill fear in others, he fully embraced his new living situation, and has not looked back. Whether that might change in the season finale or season eight will be interesting to watch!

Rick
 

Rick - The Walking Dead

Perhaps the person with the largest burden of guilt, Rick, as the leader, bears what has happened as a heavy weight on his spirit. Any good leader, military or otherwise, would rather sacrifice himself or herself than lose an underling. When the actions of the leader directly cause the death of the followers, the horrible consequences are projected on the leader with a significant impact. Rick clearly blames himself for the deaths of Glenn and Abraham and the near loss of Carl’s hand. His determination to keep everyone else safe results in his extreme subservience and obedience to Negan and the Saviors; of course, it is not successful, as they also lose Olivia and Spencer. Clearly, his suppression of his anger and resentment was bound to boil over at some point, and once he was reunited with his core group and his gun, he could begin formulating a plan to achieve vengeance.

Michonne
 

Michonne - The Walking Dead

Following the bludgeoning of Abraham and Glenn, and continuing after the seizure of the mattresses and weapons from Alexandria, Michonne possessed a simmering anger that only abated once Rick finally got his mojo back and the plan to resist was born. She possibly would have gone after Negan right after he killed Abraham and Glenn had Rick supported the idea, so strong was her hatred. She did display passive-aggressive behavior after the fact, refusing to gather stuff for Negan and preferring instead to search for guns. She was clearly hurting for the way Rick was emasculated, Carl was threatened, and her friends were killed.

Carl
 

Carl - The Walking Dead

As Carl watched his father kowtow to the Saviors and their increasingly dangerous demands, he was not able to continue to hold his own aggressive tendencies and anger in check. This is not surprising, considering he is still a teenager and was also present when Negan visited and discovered Judith. Taking a similar path to Rosita and Sasha, and dodging Jesus’ attempt to temper his actions, Carl confronted Negan directly, managing to kill a Savior in the process. The result was not the same as what happened to Daryl and Sasha but clearly helped galvanize him so that once Rick was ready to lead the fight, Carl eagerly joined.

Maggie
 

Maggie - The Walking Dead

I see so much of Hershel in his daughter, Maggie. Her quiet grieving, her helpful and wise spirit, her patience, her putting others first – all qualities that Hershel treasured and no doubt taught his daughter from a young age. Oh, and one more thing – forgiveness. But, being her own woman, she also possesses the resolve to exact justice, so she is not shrinking from a fight with Negan. But, unlike some of her more hot-headed comrades, she is taking the time to formulate a plan of action that can lead to a successful defeat of the Saviors and hopefully secure a safe future for her unborn child.

Sasha
 

Sasha - The Walking Dead

It seems to me that Sasha has made herself numb to all the death. In the process, she has become a follower, not wanting to think, but just doing. I think this is why she is drawn into Rosita’s plan, and despite having severe reservations, and trying to get Rosita to wait, goes all in once Rosita decides to take action. In fact, she goes so far in that she purposely separates from Rosita, sacrificing herself so that Rosita can live to fight with the main group. Once caught and imprisoned by Negan, she now must face even more horrible choices. But, she clearly did not anticipate being caught, thinking instead she would be killed. Her next step will be very interesting indeed.

 

How have you been coping with the extreme events of season seven? Do you think the way the survivors are coping is true to their previously established characters? Let me know what you think in the comments section below!

  • Samantha

    I really hope they kill Judith off by the season 7 finale, it would add such a great twist to the show, because, Judith dying, especially by Negan or one of his saviors is just what will make Rick and the group go to war with Negan and his saviors. Judith dying would create such a war that wold carry over to season 8. Who cares about stupid Judith, anyway? She just sits there.

  • ptjackson

    Interesting thoughts. But, it seems they are going to war anyway, so do they really need any more incentive? And, to posit the opposite, is it not also possible that in order to protect Judith and her future, the Alexandrians have ample incentive to go to war?

  • Bill Strouse

    I wish they would take Negan captive and not kill his character off. Jeffery Dean Morgan is so much fun as the evil Negan. They could lock him up like in the graphic novels…..

    • ptjackson

      I have not read the graphic novels, so was not aware of this plot, but that would be interesting! I agree that JDM is amazing as Negan – and even my husband commented on Sunday that there are times that he kind of appreciates Negan… 😎 Certainly he presents a very different picture of the world than Rick.