Monday, April 1, 2013

An Unnecessary Death: Andrea & The Walking Dead

I think it's pretty safe to say that Andrea was one of the three least liked characters on AMC's The Walking Dead (the other two being Lori and Carol).  I disliked the character strongly and cannot stand the actress playing her to an even greater degree so, much like most of The Walking Dead viewing audience, I wasn't sad to see Andrea go during last night's season finale (even more so after having to sit through Laurie Holden's Talking Dead appearance a few weeks ago).  With all of that said, she got a raw deal--one that, in spite of my visceral dislike of the character, I feel was wholly undeserved.

My general stance with television shows is not to get all up in arms when something seems a bit unbelievable.  By their very nature, shows like The Walking Dead, LOST, and Fringe require a certain level of suspension of disbelief on the part of the viewing public.  When people start nitpicking or getting caught up in trying to make sense of the minutiae, they are slowly whittling away at the show's foundation and are detracting from the overall enjoyment level that they can attain.  Complaining about the fact that there's a polar bear on an island is pretty ridiculous when that same person ISN'T bitching about the island being able to move through space and time or about the countless other esoteric phenomena that comprised the plot of LOST...and yet people still did it ROUTINELY.

Part of the problem as I see it is that we are spoiled to a ridiculous degree in our modern entertainment era.  We demand instant gratification (hence the rise to prominence of binge viewing of television shows) and we feel entitled to our opinions.  Instead of just discussing television shows the way we once did, we feel compelled--even obligated--to dissect episodes, characters, and plot elements as if we're warranted a spot at the writer's table.  The Internet--especially social media websites like Facebook and Twitter--is the biggest contributor to this change as it has engendered a forum for millions of voices to come together simultaneously while offering the illusion that all of these perspectives are equally informed and valued.  Newsflash: they're not. 

Pop onto the Facebook page of any popular show--The Walking Dead, Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad--whatever--and look at the comments that pile in after an episode.  Many people champion the great writing and acting but SO many more complain about some stupid, inane aspect that has no bearing on the overall enjoyment factor that the show presents.  The problem is that there are A LOT of people like this.  Hell, even on this blog I just got a comment from some dope bitching about the fact that I provided directions to the various things to find in Waldo books instead of pictures of said items.  The quote in its exact form: "HOW MUCH IS A FRINKING INCH JUST SHOW PICTURES OF WHERE IT IS THATS USEFUL"

Yes, folks: this is the society that we live in.  Don't help me to find something--find it for me, goddamnit!

But I digress.  With so many ridiculous comments about unnecessary details, sometimes the bigger picture is overlooked.  I'm someone who specifically avoids criticizing television shows that I enjoy because, if I really love the show, then I invariably buy into it full steam ahead.  I believe in the writers' abilities and the creators' vision and want to see where both will ultimately take the show.  It's why I loved everything about LOST, Fringe, Firefly, hell--even Dawson's Creek back in the day!  So for ME to be bothered by something says (at least to me) that it was pretty egregious.

Enter Andrea's death.  Ordinarily, I won't question the decision to kill off a main character even if the reason isn't made immediately apparent.  Shane's death served its purpose and was hinted at for the better part of two seasons.  Even Sophia's death--arguably the worst, most boring build up ever--was shocking in a way (most likely the way it was ultimately revealed) and, again, it served a higher purpose.  Ditto for Dale's--a point that became even more salient in light of Carl's behavior last night.  He must be rolling in his grave at the lack of humanity in that boy.

Did Andrea deserve to die?  Honestly, I'd say that she didn't.  It's not so much about her noble intentions as it is the fact that, as a major character, she really wasn't all that major (like Shane).  If the writers were trying to tug at the heartstrings of the viewers (like with Sophia/Carol) then they failed miserably AND served to provide overkill since they managed to do so perfectly with the Merle/Daryl scene the week prior.  And if her death was meant to be symbolic like Dale's then it fell a little short because I feel like the message was diluted and it didn't need her passing to be expressed; David Morrissey's acting and the way The Governor treated "his own people" sent a FAR more powerful message about the state of humanity in the post-apocalyptic world the characters inhabit than Andrea's "all I wanted to do was help people" parting speech.

But it's not even so much about the fact that Andrea died as it is about the way she did.  This is where I call bullshit on the writers.  This girl was one of the most prolific, efficient walker dispatchers on the show!  Look at what she did in the forest with Milton when the pair encountered Tyreese for the first time.  Ditto for how she handled herself during countless encounters after the farm and, hell, the fact that she even survived the herd attack in the first place!

See--that's where I have a problem.  You have a character survive that many close-calls and overcome seemingly impossible odds and then she dies in a room with one walker while she's armed!?  It's such a waste of a strong character.  She should've gone down in a flurry of bullets or in hand-to-hand combat with The Governor.  Instead, she's left alone with zombie Milton (fucking MILTON!) and we're supposed to believe that he managed to get close enough to her to cause that much damage?

Maybe Andrea was too busy trying to engage him in conversation that she failed to realize he was gnawing on her shoulder.

That brings us to bullshit point number two: how long it took her to get out of the chair.  This is arguably the worst part of her death--the fact that she was unable to extricate herself quickly enough to avoid her fate.  First of all, she stopped trying to pick up the pliers every time Milton spoke to her.  Uh--HELLO!  MULTITASK, DUMBASS!  Move them feet while you move those lips!  Secondly, she went about freeing herself with ZERO urgency.  ZERO!  You have Milton fighting to hold on long enough for her to escape--knowing full well that he's going to turn and will have no control over his actions--and she's dawdling, twiddling her twat between her thumbs while she's shooting the shit with the suddenly tragic hero.  Give me a break!  She should've been TEARING ASS to get out of that chair.  And how long did it take Milton to turn!?  If it was like an hour then, really?  She couldn't get out in THAT much time?  If it was only a few minutes (as it appeared to be), then why the hell are people turning so quickly!?  I know it's varied in terms of how long it takes but come on!

Finally, the bullshit factor reaches its apex here: Glenn survived while Andrea didn't.  I'm not knocking Glenn--he's one of my favorite characters on the show (in the comics he's a bit soft)--but who's killed more walkers?  Andrea by a mile.  Glenn's clearly got balls of steel with all of the runs he went on (and the fact that he stole a farmer's daughter right out from under the old man's nose!) but he admitted that his motivation for taking those chances wasn't so much bravery as it was an indifference towards death (at least until he met Ma-gaggie).  Andrea also suffered from post-apocalyptic ennui but hers was really more straight up PTSD.  HER courage came after she overcame her ambivalence towards life.  She didn't care whether she lived or died after what happened to her sister but eventually she found something to live for (or at least something to avoid dying for).  It was after that that she became a walker killing machine.

Glenn survived being beaten by Merle and then having a ravenous walker turned loose in the room while he was duct taped to a chair!  He not only survived but he absolutely demolished the biter BEFORE freeing himself completely!  Andrea had ample time to unshackle herself AND THEN DID while zombie Milton was still shambling across the room!  Seriously!?  SERIOUSLY!?  I'm supposed to buy Andrea slipping up in that moment?  Give me a break! 

Andrea's death was easily the worst, most unnecessary of the entire series.  For all that she went through, she deserved a better end than she got.