Monday, April 1, 2013

Requiem for //REDACTED//: Wasted Potential on the Walking Dead

by Sara N.

I come today to bury certain characters from The Walking Dead, not to praise them. For lo, there was very little to praise, when it was all said and done.


The character I'm about to discuss had very few braaaaaaiiiiins. 
Read on ... but only if you've already seen Sunday's Season 3 finale. If not, be warned that here be spoilers. Big ones.

This season on The Walking Dead, two of the most hated characters died, Lori earlier in the season and now Andrea in the last minutes of the finale. Rest in piece, you stupid, beautiful idiots. Both women were so inept in the face of a zombie apocalypse that it bordered on the ludicrous. No other characters on the show were as short-sighted and ridiculous, and it wasn't long before the Internet was howling for their blood.

It's shocking how awful the two primary female characters on the show were for the last three seasons. Andrea and Lori were moody, unpredictable morons who couldn't be trusted to pilot a car without wrecking it because she was checking a map while driving (Lori) or to try her hand at target practice without almost murdering Darryl Goddamn Dixon (Andrea). And when the Internet clamor became deafening — They are terrible! Do something! — the action the writers took was not to give them better material, material that would give them recognizable emotions and logical reactions to the situations they faced. No, in both cases, the writers tried to give them lame, last-minute redemptions, then killed them. But not before the Internet vitriol spilled over into "STFU, bitch"-type conversations about the dumb women on The Walking Dead.

It didn't have to be this way. The raw material was there in the graphic novels to write these women as strong and competent. But instead, we got the "dames, amirite?" problematic behavior that makes it easy for viewers to write off female characters as weak and annoying. Angie Barry at CriminalElement.com has an excellent essay on why Lori was an awful character, and Andrea wasn't much better in Season 3. For every move she made toward becoming an interesting and useful character, she did at least three stupid things afterward. She escapes the carnage of Herschel's farm, and she and Michonne survive a tough winter on the run. But the she refuses to leave Woodbury with Michonne, and stays on after she sees the bread-and-circus zombie fights the Governor stages. But then she jumps over the Woodbury wall to kill a walker with a knife, proving that she does have some skills. But then she sees the Governor's roomful of zombie heads and doesn't stab him and run away. Lather, rinse, repeat.

The worst moments were her shocking naivete about the Governor's true, twisted tendencies. Even when she realized that he meant grievous harm to her friends in the prison, she hesitated to kill him, not once, but twice. Her dithering and wishy-washiness were maddening to watch. And then, even facing imminent death, she was still the worst. Quit talking to Milton and pick up those damn pliers, woman! Pick them up! When the man about to turn into a zombie tells you to hurry, you should hurry!

Her dying words, "I wanted to save everyone," were a nice sentiment, but they ultimately showed that she never learned how to survive alongside the zombies and the still-living human monsters they'd created. As the Governor himself said, you kill or you die. By refusing to kill the Governor when she had the chance, she died. Milton died. Many Woodburians died. This is the price of willful blindness during the zombie apocalypse.

Much more awesome.
What's extra maddening is that the Andrea of the graphic novels is an amazing female character. One of Rick's most trusted lieutenants, she's the group's sniper, and she often trains other survivors and leads groups on missions. Plus, she's been in a strong romantic relationship and has bonded with others in the group such that she's the adoptive mother of two children whose father asked her to care for them upon his death. Does this sound like the woman we've been watching for the last three seasons?

Even Andrea's portrayer, Laurie Holden, realizes the wasted potential. "Do I wish we could've seen and explored more of the comic-book-Robert-Kirkman Andrea? Yes. Absolutely," she told TVLine.

In short, I'm both relieved and sad to see Andrea exit The Walking Dead. I'm sad because of the wasted potential the character represented. But I'm relieved because it's one less chance for a too-stupid-to-live heroine to go on dragging down the state of women on television. 

How about you? Did you cheer or weep when you heard that final gunshot?
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1 comment:

  1. Finally someone with the same opinion as me. I got so disappointed (and mad) with TV-Andrea! And Laurie Holden did deserve a better written role (still can't stop seeing her as Marita Covarrubias from X-Files).

    I never liked Graphic-Novel-Lori that much, so I didn't really care when she left the TV series a little earlier than expected (by me). But, I still had some hope to see Andrea do something actually relevant on the show. At some point I really thought she would assume Lilly's final job on the graphic novel (see here what she did - it contains spoilers: http://walkingdead.wikia.com/wiki/Lilly_Caul), or, help Rick's group somehow and end up having Tyreese's part, but, nothing... so disappointed.

    And I have to mention: even her death was poorly written. I mean, c'mon, Shane did praised her ability once, right? And, Michonne did say she saved her life, when both of them were alone facing walkers, right? How could she die so... pathetically?

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