Season 6, Part 1 of The Walking Dead reinforced 6 universal, sometimes ugly, truths that NFS will explore over the course of 6 articles. The Walking Dead Season 6 Midseason Finale left a number of conflicts in limbo until February. Luckily, the show gave fans plenty to digest as they pine away for its 2/14/16 return.
Truth Number 1: Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans (John Lennon)
This truth dates back further than Lennon’s 20th century song and Robert Burn’s 18th century epiphany, “The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men Gang Aft Agley.” And so it goes. Here it is the shiny new 21st century, and the Grimes Gang still hasn’t learned its lesson.
Rick and his group thought they found the Promised Land once they stumbled from the darkness of Terminus into the light of Alexandria. They were willing to do whatever it takes to fight for this new home. As always, Rick has a plan… many, many plans. But he isn’t the only one.
The first half of The Walking Dead’s Season 6 begs the question, is a plan’s value, contingent on its success, or is it measured by the comfort it provides along with its other residual effects despite some form of its eminent failure?
Plan #1: Lead the herd away from the Alexandria community – failed.
Rick’s plan to leave Alexandria with a large team left the community vulnerable to a Wolf attack. The unforeseen attack spurred a series of life altering events, beginning with a simple blast of a horn. Just like that, it is clear control is an illusion.
Daryl splits from the group, endangering himself, Sasha, and Abraham. It costs him his trusty bow and motorcycle. The three ultimately reunite, but now the trio must confront the likes of Negan and his heinous Saviors. This bodes well for no one. It would not be surprising if only two of them survive the initial encounter. The question is, who will die first at the hands of Negan?
The horn lures the herd to the walls of Alexandria, which eventually collapse under its weight, fostering a second round of destruction for the safe zone. But Rick’s got a plan for that, too… that is after he somehow slips unscathed from a camper surrounded by walkers. No wonder he has illusions of grandeur.
Is it possible that the herd could have been rerouted by some other random distraction and Rick’s plan to lead it away, ironically, is the very thing that drew it to Alexandria?
Plan #2: Operation Walker Guts—failure imminent.
Rick has the survivors in his care cover themselves in walker guts, meander through the herd invasion (reminiscent of Carol masquerading as a Wolf in the first Alexandria attack), and get to the armory.
Sam’s panic, I mean what child WOULDN’T panic under these circumstances, point to another failed plan, compliments of Rick Grimes. He’s done it before with Glenn, the luckiest Walking Dead character in show history. That plan failed when it began to rain, ruining Rick’s disguise, which nearly cost him and Glenn their lives.
He refuses to surrender, an admirable trait, but how long will it take for him to learn that it’s impossible to control everything? How many people have to die before he realizes that he can’t fix everything? Is it vanity or determination that pushes Rick’s plans?
Plan # 3: Maintain the status quo at all costs- failed
For months, Deanna and her Alexandrians managed to continue life as usual during the zombie apocalypse. Residence were naïve to human and undead dangers that lingered just outside their walls.
The walls they built were strong and would presumably keep the ugly reality at bay, allowing the Alexandrians to restore civilization. Life in Alexandria was business as usual—school, work, entertainment, traditional family.
But the universe had other plans, so the walls came tumbling down. Maintaining the status quo instead of training for worst case scenarios left the Alexandrians open for defeat. They had no idea how to defend themselves—Deanna didn’t even know a head wound was necessary to kill a zombie.
Even as the herd infiltrates Alexandria, Sam munches on cookies and sandwiches, listening to old 45s. And his mom, Jesse, makes survival a game of make-believe. How is this kid supposed to stand a chance in the new world?
Don’t worry, Deanna bequeathed new plans to Michonne before her samurai style death scene. Michonne seemed softened by Deanna’s vision, something that may be a detriment to her safety.
Goals are good, so long as she doesn’t lose sight of the inevitable outcome. Everyone needs something to live for beyond survival; otherwise, what’s the point. But it seems plans are a means of temporarily avoiding madness and defeat in the post-apocalyptic world.
Plan #4: Burn, Baby Burn- failed
Glenn, the group’s moral compass, sees Rick’s plan falling apart, so he concocts one of his own. His plan is to burn a nearby building to attract the walker herd away from its course to Alexandria.
Glenn splits from the small band of survivors and allows Nicholas some redemption by bringing him along on his mission. Part of Glenn’s plan requires him to mend fences and rehabilitate a coward.
Before the two can see their mission through, they are surrounded by walkers. The two climb to safety while the hungry herd claws at the stranded duo, gnashes its decayed chops. Fear overwhelms Nicholas, who plans to unburden Glenn by shooting himself in the head. It seems Plan #4 has a sub failure—Nicholas corpse crashes into Nick and the two plunge into the herd. He’s a burden even in death.
Luckily, Glenn has 9 lives and manages to skirt danger by pulling himself under a dumpster. Lazy walkers can’t be bothered to pursue him.
Should Glenn have stayed with the group as it made its way back to Alexandria, or did his plan put him at an unexpected advantage of being on the other side of the wall when the herds crashed into Alexandria? Does that advantage alone give Glenn’s original plan merit?
Plan #5: Get Glenn- failed
Maggie and Glenn have been down this harrowing path before and both refuse to give up on each other. Maggie, pregnant and determined, packs a bag and with the help of Eric, sets out to find the love of her post-apocalyptic life.
It isn’t long before Maggie’s plan fails. Deep in the sewers of Alexandria she and Eric are attacked by mushy zombies. Strange that their flesh slides from their bones as she pushes them away, yet their choppers remain strong enough to pose a threat.
She realizes her plan isn’t worth sacrificing Eric’s safety. She realizes her plan may make the rest of Alexandria vulnerable. Better to accept the circumstances, regroup, and maintain hope than to pursue the matter.
Maggie realizes the false comfort and illusion of control a plan fosters. She sees through the farce and ultimately, the Glenn returns to Alexandria. It’s just the circumstances of his homecoming that disappoint. Does this prove that nothing is guaranteed? People are not necessarily rewarded or punished for their efforts to plan and control their circumstances? Does it prove life is a series of random events?
Plan # 6: Pay It Forward/ Every Life Matters- failed
Morgan found his way back from madness thanks to a chance encounter with a forensic psychologist. Once rehabilitated, Morgan so fears returning to his old ways that he refuses to kill under any circumstances– post-apocalyptic Darwinian code be damned.
When Alexandria is under siege by the Wolves, Morgan takes no prisoners and allows a pack of Wolves to flee. This same pack goes on to attack Rick, leaving him stranded and surrounded by walkers, unable to execute the rest of his plan to redirect the herd of walkers.
Morgan even goes as far as imprisoning one of the remaining Wolves and procuring the Wolf secret medical attention. Morgan is desperate to change the Wolf’s heart, no matter how he resists or taunts Morgan.
Morgan knows his plan will be controversial, so he was determined to wait for the right time…perhaps to unveil a rehabilitated Wolf during an I– told- you -so moment. Too bad Carol discovers his secrets and the plan goes to pot.
Now, the Wolf is free and Denise, Alexandria’s only “doctor,” is in danger. Denise and Tara share a budding romance, which doesn’t bode well for her given Tara’s track record.
Morgan was so blinded by his mission that he lost sight of endangering his community. But at least it made him feel good… for a little while anyway. Was Morgan wrong to involve Denise? Was he wrong to try to change the Wolf and Rick’s hearts?
What’s The Point?
So what’s the lesson in the six failed plans of The Walking Dead’s sixth season? Clearly, the only thing people can bank on is no amount of planning guarantees an outcome. Should viewers conclude that plans are dangerous and pointless, or should they appreciate the temporary elixir they provide?
Would the survivors do well to abandon plans and just go with the proverbial flow? What failed plan did you observe?
You can share your insights and questions in the comment section. NFS invites you to also stay tuned for the next installment of The Walking Dead Season 6: 6 Universal Truths.