Monday, February 13, 2012

Preparedness Review of The Walking Dead Episode 208: Nebraska

Spoiler alert!

Rick (to Hershel): “This isn't about what we believe anymore.  It's about them.”
Synopsis:  The camp divides into Shane vs.  Rick, with Shane getting an early lead on the balloting.   Sophia's death hits home; and the show sets a record for the shortest guest star stint in television history.

Nebraska picks up right where the last episode left off, with Rick killing a zombified Sophia and the group shocked by the discovery that she was in the barn all along.  There are two themes here that merit the attention of those who are preparedness minded.  First, in a crisis situation there is a good chance that someone you care for is going to get injured or possibly die.  Secondly, despite this tragedy, you are still in a survival situation and survival activities must continue.
 For Hershel and his family, the "Barnmageddon" massacre of the walkers is a wake-up call.  While Maggie has seen the light regarding the true nature of the undead, the rest of the group blindly followed Hershel's belief that somehow they could be restored.   Only Shane's action of shooting a walker multiple times without any discernible effect is able to convince them that these people are no longer people.   

In any disaster, especially a long-term one, there will be a tendency on the part of some to assume that eventually life will return to normal.  Most of us believe emergencies are short term.  Ask the city of New Orleans about that.   Katrina and the resulting levee failures ripped the guts out of a major metropolitan center in the United States, and the area still has not fully recovered.  
On the day this episode premiered, I woke to find the the water shut off in our house.  I quickly realized the cold had frozen the pipes and over the course of the next ten minutes, using a hair dryer, I was able to thaw them and get the water going again.   I had addressed this problem previously by adding an electrical heat tape to the section of pipe prone to freezing and had wrapped the pipe with foam insulation.   For whatever reason a portion of the insulation had come undone and been pulled away from the pipe.    Once the water was flowing I repaired the insulation issue.   Then I began to think about how easily the expanding frozen water could have caused the pipe to burst, and my minor inconvenience would have been a major problem coupled with and emergency call to a plumber.   I also realized that my stored water was outside in my outbuilding and probably frozen solid.    And what if the water outage was caused by a city pipe bursting due to the cold?   I need to take a serious look at this side of my preps.

She's not dead dead, she's mostly dead.
But I digress.   The Greene clan now gets to mourn properly for people they should have rightfully capped and buried long ago.  Hershel's wife and stepson are among the bodies, and just as Dr. Greene's step-daughter goes to her mother to mourn her, we get the meaning of the "Double Tap" rule from the movie Zombieland; never go near a hazard, like a supposedly dead walker, without lots of caution and the proper equipment, like a gun. 
On the other side is Team Rick, who have had more brushes with death than they care to remember.   Glenn tells Maggie that they've lost people before, but that losing Sophia is different.   In a way, I understand that.  Sophia and Carl are the only "kids" left.  If the children can't be kept safe, can the safety of anyone be assured?  Carl's matter of fact statement regarding Sophia being put down is a chilling testament to just how hardened this group has become to death and gore.  Is it any wonder that Hershel regarded them with caution?  Is it any wonder that he wants Shane away from his family?

Shane, T-Dog, and Andrea do their grisly dirty work.
While the characters deal with the implications of the actions at the barn, T-Dog and Andrea point out that these folks ain't gettin' any deader, so the mess has to be cleaned up - Annette, Shawn and Sophia get graves, while the rest of the bodies are burned in a pyre.   (Point of note:   Lori mentions more walkers could have heard the gunfire.)  Once again we see Shane just getting stuff done, all the while defending his actions to Dale and Carol. 

The graves are dug, the service, awkward yet poignant, is held, and the bodies of the other walkers are burned.  Hershel and Rick both have their own crises of confidence as Rick realizes his snap decision to leave Sophia in the woods led directly to her death and Carl's shooting, and Hershel realizes that there will be no cure, and that the world as he knows it has ended.  Hershel seeks solace in self pity and the bottom of a bottle, while Rick occupies himself with finding Hershel to help Beth who has collapsed post-massacre into a catatonic state.  (Another side note:  my son believes she got scratched when her mom - now a corpse - attacked her.) 

There is a fundamental problem with how the survivors retreat into separate corners after the service; sure some people need space to grieve, but in a situation like this, someone should have been watching Hershel and Carol to make sure they didn't slip off.   Hershel is the only darn medical help anywhere to be found, and they left him alone?  I guess it could be chalked up to everyone tending to what happened and what needed to be done, but Hershel Greene is maybe the most rare commodity left in this post-Apocalypse world.
Rick gets his Shane on.
And it is still a dangerous world.   Lori plays walker-tag and ends up flipping her Mercury Sable driving into town to find Rick by herself without knowing where she is going and without telling anyone where she went, thus creating yet another  missing person to find. Rick, Glenn and Hershel run into two nefarious refugees, Dave and Scrawny Tony.  These two pump the trio for information about where they are holed up, how many are in their party, and whether they have room for more refugees.   Rick and Hershel obviously see right through the nice act and stonewall the pair, noting how disrespectful and vulgar they behave.   The tension builds, with the strangers maneuvering around the bar to cover Rick and the others without actually pointing a weapon at them, until Rick gets the drop on them and  shoots them first.  It's an act of violence that shocks Glenn and Hershel and shows just how far Rick is willing to go to protect his own now.
Here is a scenario all preppers have to face:  at some point, you may have to defend yourself against people who mean to do you harm, take your resources, and pee on your body when they are done.  I once heard a commentator remark that in New Orleans  it took only four days for a major U.S. city to descend into anarchy, and how we would like to think the veneer of civilization is a little thicker than that.  How far are you willing to go to defend your family, your neighbors, and your resources?  If you think prepping is just about stocking guns, ammo, and food, think again.  It's a mindset.  It's a determination to defend your right to live and survive even when all the odds are against you.
If you are looking for a lot of hope, you won't find it in this episode except for the fact that Maggie admits her love for Glenn to him right before they leave the farm to find Hershel.  Glenn has always been a scrappy survivor.  Now he has something to fight for, and I look forward to seeing how this plays out.

Preparedness lessons for Episode 208:
  • Realize what your most precious resources are and take steps to safeguard them; this includes people with valuable skills.
  • Realize there is a good chance that someone in your group is going to be injured or die;  you have to work to prepare yourself for that eventuality and work on dealing with it before it happens.  It could be something as simple as making sure everyone stays busy to take their mind off the person for awhile until the emergency is resolved and people get the change to grieve outside a survival situation.
  • The emergency is just one thing that puts you in danger.   Rogue groups can be more dangerous.  Treat all meetings with strangers as potential hostile encounters.  Approach with caution and use someone in an overwatch position to cover you.  Think, if Glenn had been hidden behind the bar instead of poking around listening to Rick and Hershel, maybe that scene could have ended with the newcomers still alive.
  • When discussing matters with strangers, practice operational security - a topic about which Glenn knows nothing.  During the bar scene he was an open book.

1 comment: