Maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised that a world full of zombies would be filled with so many people that are brain dead, but that’s what we’re facing while watching the second season of “The Walking Dead.” Last night’s shocking ending, where Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) got gutted by a walker and put out of his misery from a gunshot to the head by Daryl (Norman Reedus), just points out how stupid most of the characters on this show really are.
The walker that ripped Dale open was the same walker that was stuck in the mud in the swampy woods next to the farm of Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson). How’d he manage to free himself? Young Carl (Chandler Riggs) taunted him by throwing rocks at him, among other dumb moves. Duly enraged — which is pretty much the only thing these things feel, besides that pesky blood-thirsty hunger of theirs — the walker followed Carl’s scent back to the farm, where he saw Dale wandering around at night, upset that the rest of the group was going to shoot Randall (Michael Zegen) in the head just because he’s an outsider.
You could chalk up Carl’s idiotic behavior to the fact that he’s a kid becoming hardened in a world where his memories of not being Walker Chow were fading fast. But the stupid acorn doesn’t fall far from the dumb tree in the case of Carl Grimes.
Remember, before Carl’s dad Rick (Andrew Lincoln) decided that executing Randall was the way to go, he and Shane (Jon Bernthal) drove the kid to a random town that had not been scouted out first and dumped him in a maintenance yard that could have been crawling with walkers. So when tensions boiled over between Rick and Shane, all it took was a wrench through a window and they found themselves surrounded by drooling, hungry zombies.
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Carl’s mom, Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) isn’t much smarter; she sent Glenn (Steven Yeun) in to town to get a pregnancy test, and then sent him in again to get her “morning after” pills. Did she care that he could have gotten devoured by walkers, like he almost did on one trip? And did she realizing that swallowing a handful of “morning after” pills after she was already pregnant doesn’t at all work? Yes, it’s hard to think straight in what’s essentially a war zone, but at the very least she should have realized that putting Glenn at such risk was not a smart idea.
What other examples of sheer stupidity have we seen from the ragtag Atlanta gang?
— Lori going off by herself to find Rick, almost killing herself when she flipped over the car she was driving after hitting a walker.
— Rick, Hershel and Glenn bringing Randall back to the farm instead of letting him die in town, then deciding to kill him after realizing they made a mistake.
— Hershel believing that the zombies are just “sick” and need to be “cured,” leading to the massacre of the walkers he stowed away in his barn.
— The zombie massacre to begin with, because enough gunshots were heard to lure in every walker in a 10-mile radius.
— Sophia (Madison Lintz) wandering off by herself in woods she knew were rife with walkers.
— Rick bringing a little girl into the dense, walker-filled woods because she can get into places.
— Daryl not doing what he should have done after Atlanta, which was grabbing his crossbow and leaving to fend for himself.
— The group using Glenn as “walker bait.” Nuff said there.
In these and other examples, the writers of “Dead” utilized their characters’ stupidity to further the plot along. Without Carl taunting the walker in the woods, for example, Dale wouldn’t get the ironic death that he got.
But, with so many examples of this group’s inherent stupidity, you start to get the feeling that these characters are written that way on purpose. In Robert Kirkman‘s comic, for instance, Rick is portrayed as a man who means well but is constantly making things worse in his attempt to protect his family and the group from getting eaten. But no one can be this dumb all the time, can they?
Who are the smart ones in the group? Dale, perhaps, though poking the violent bear that is Shane is never a good idea, and he just got more shrill as time went on. Maggie (Lauren Cohan), maybe, but she seems to be more concerned that Glenn isn’t kissing her anymore than about anything else. Andrea (Laurie Holden) was a civil rights lawyer, but her views shift as quickly as the wind blows. Shane? Well, he’s supposed to be a loose cannon, and he seems like he’s the smart one because of his self-preservation bent, but we can’t give it to him after throwing that wrench through the window when he was fighting with Rick.
At this point, the only person in this group who’s got any smarts is T-Dog (IronE Singleton); he sits back, takes it all in, and barely speaks. Heck, some weeks we don’t even see him, meaning he must be somewhere safe. He’s been so smart, we’re surprised he hasn’t gotten eaten yet.