Further down the AMC Rabbit Hole

By. J.Kb.

I just finished the 4th episode of Fear the Walking Dead.  I know, that was last week’s episode.  I have a job and a baby, if it weren’t for DVR I’d never watch anything on TV.

So, where to start…

At the very end of Episode 3, the army arrives and starts killing zombies.  At the start of Episode 4, dysfunctional family and El Salvadorian family are sharing dysfunctional family’s house which is now in a safe zone.  The military has formed about a dozen safe zones out of various neighborhoods by fencing them off and occupying them.  Dysfunctional dad is some how the civilian leader of his safe zone, at one point he is called “mayor” by the army lieutenant in charge of the safe zone.

The lieutenant in charge of the safe zone is a total a##hole.  He’s gruff, unsympathetic, callus, and jokes about shooting the civilians in the safe zone.  At first I thought this was just AMC (insert gratuitous comment about typical Hollywood liberals) being anti-military.  Since we haven’t really interacted with any other military at this point maybe, just maybe, his being an a##hole was just a personality quirk and not a statement against the military by AMC.

At the end of the episode, the military drags away drug addict son with force, actually butt-stroking him to the face with an M-16.  On a personal level, I have no sympathy for drug addict son.  He was stealing drugs from an injured person in the safe zone, hooking himself up to the patients painkiller drip.  Previously he refused to share his painkillers (the ones girlfriend stole for him to help him with withdrawal) with El Salvadorian mom, who crushed her foot.  If there is one feature that defines all drug addicts, it is selfishness.  They will do whatever it takes to get high, regardless of how much it harms other people.  This kind of person is a detriment to society, but especially in an apocalypse scenario, so I don’t mind so much that he was hauled off.  But I digress…

As I thought about the this last episode, I realized maybe AMC wasn’t just being hard on the military.  Only a month ago was the 10th anniversary of the landfall of Hurricane Katrina.  I watched the news and the President’s speech and all the yammering punditry, but the one thing that I didn’t see was mention of the door-to-door raids by police and the National Guard collecting guns.  For that I had to turn to the NRA.  One of the things I remember about Katrina, watching the disaster unfold from my dorm room, was the belligerence shown by the nine most terrifying words in the English language.

Sure, I’ll concede that there was violence by some of the citizens of NOLA, and looting and people taking advantage of the disaster.  Say what you want about providing security, but what happened in NOLA after Karina was about more than just security.  It was a crackdown on US citizens.  Not since the Civil War have US troops gone house-to-house with guns rousting residents.

One segment from the news stands out in my mind (I can’t find video of it), of General Russel Honore showing up in NOLA and yelling at soldiers to put their guns down.  Before he got there, the military was rolling through a US city like it was Fallujah.  (Yes, Yes, I know, Honore retired and turned out to be a totally anti-gun “if you like assault weapons join the army” liberal, but I’m only talking about his command in NOLA.)

Coincidentally, this, the treating of a US city like was a foreign nation to be occupied and the total erosion of civil rights was the genesis of the Oath Keepers movement.  Keep in mind, I’m not crapping on individual members of the military here.  There are many good people in uniform.  But any bureaucracy (including the military) is ultimately a big, lumbering, officious, callus, machine that will keep grinding people under it until somebody (either from within or outside) stops it.

What frightens me is that AMC’s portrayal of life in a safe zone is more accurate than I would hope.  Just ask the people of Watertown, Massachusetts what they experienced in much less dire circumstances.  Sure, those were police, but that might have been hard to tell by ordinance they were carrying.

Yes, after Katrina many people got their guns back.  There were lawsuits and settlements.  President G.W. Bush even passed an executive order which later became law preventing the government from confiscating legally possessed arms during a natural disaster.  Several states even doubled and tripled down on this by securing the right of CCW permit holders, and even non permit holders, to carry during a disaster.  But all of this only works if once the disaster ends there are courts and lawyers to secure the rights that were taken away during the disaster and order recompense.  What happens when you lose your rights today and there is no tomorrow?  Food for thought.

I still want dysfunctional dad to get munched on and El Salvadorian barber did witness atrocities during the El Salvadorian Civil War.  I’m still waiting for more of his backstory to unfold.

Switching to different zombie fiction.  One of my favorite, and the most believable, part of World War Z (the book, not the movie, don’t talk to me about the movie) was that the US military had to retake the Black Hills of South Dakota.  In WWZ, the military retreats from the East Coast and Mid West all the way to behind the Rocky Mountains which formed a natural barrier against the undead.  The residents of the Black Hills were abandoned by the military and left to fend for themselves.  They survived and when the US retook SD, they were so offended at being left behind, they declared themselves a sovereign state and resisted unification.  I lived in western South Dakota for six years.  WWZ is 100% correct.  The hill-folk of SD (or any rural state for that matter) would both survive a zombie apocalypse and be very resentful of a government showing up and wanting to take control of a group of people they had previously forsaken.

8 Replies to “Further down the AMC Rabbit Hole”

  1. I’ll be be brief – I blame the late hour and the amount of alcohol consumed 🙂

    – You may like the next episode (from tonight). The military undergoes local…changes…? Mr. Salazar shows us his past. Madison shows her darker side. We get introduced to the evil Old Spice Man (you’ll get it when you see it)
    – I don’t like the druggie character as a long term character, but he is so well acted, I’m compelled to root for him.
    – I initially had a post saying Watertown was different than the show because people complied with BS orders, but then I remembered the show from tonight. I agree that Watertown was similar to this show’s depiction of police occupation as we saw some serious willingness to comply in tonight’s episode. No chance someone would venture out to explore their boat from what I saw…
    – People living in the Black Hills, Badlands, Appalachian Mtns,, Adirondack Mountains, , etc, will survive better than the flat-landers in a situation like this. I lived in an around Rapid for a few years in the 90s. Loved it but missed the forests. Good people out there.




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  2. D@mn, I forgot to set my DVR. Fear the walking dead is too early in the series to tell but I wonder if it will go along the same lines as The Walking Dead series. What I mean is the latter show has characters who knows that there are “Walkers” everywhere but just about every episode someone in the group makes an intrinsically stupid mistake and gets eaten or puts the group in jeopardy. Which brings me to my point, in episode 104 of “FTWD” the mom leaves the compound to investigate the flashing light from the building by cutting through the fencing. They don’t show it but when she returned, did she re-secure the cyclone fencing, that she cut to get out? Or is it going to be a way for the zombies to enter the previously secure compound and surprise the sheep in a later episode?

    FTWD is rolling along slowly for the sake of character development (which I don’t mind) but I’m wondering if the show is just a West-Coast version of the walking dead? You know, where they live in a utopian society where guns are restricted and hard to come by and anyone that owns any are vilified and sneered at as being a “Gun-extremist”. Or will they have to put aside their fear and loathing of firearms and be re-born as reluctant defenders of their own defense due to the threat of walkers? Will they leave California’s urban/suburban confines and trek east and run into Rick Grimes?

    I understand that the show(s) are more of a cross section of society being thrown into a situation (social commentary) rather than a horror/action genre, but I kinds like it. It is like a soap opera with dead people.




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  3. Howdy Miquel,
    I’m liking it. Daughter hasn’t been impressed so far, but I told her to keep in mind that this is the stuff that took place while Rick was “napping”.
    The writers did mess up on one thing. Did anyone else wince when not one, but two people seemed to rest their eyebrow on the scope of that Barrett?




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    1. I’m probably evil for this, but I was wishing, SO HARD, that the father was going to pull the trigger and carve his eye out (ala The Governor) which would then be his crutch and turning point to harden him, but no, he wussed out.
      Then the LT did it.. and I was just mad at the lack of realism. Their continuity director needs some lessons 😉

      Also – rewatch the episode – did you notice that the lookout called a walker spotted and they had a mover? But then they needed a scoped rifle to see this walker INSIDE AND BEHIND BLINDS IN A BUILDING BLOCKS AWAY?! I was so pissed at that obvious mistake. NO way that top rider of the Humvee spotted that. No way.




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  4. In defense of the Soldiers and Marines who deployed to assist in Katrina– I will say this, the 82nd Airborne made a decision to wear nothing but red berets (for PR visibility of course) and our CSM made the quote of the disaster by proclaiming “we will take casualties before we shoot at an American civilian.” We proved true to our word and most of the hype was just hype. NOLA citizens were sad to see the paratroopers leave because they had never seen what a non corrupt police force looked like. National Guard and NOLA cops who were also caught on camera looting were the problem, not Title 10 military. And the ones who saved more than all other first responders out there was the Coast Guard heli-rescue squadron. They saved more than the Marines and 82nd Airborne could have even dreamed of and did it with little help. The paratroopers restored order and helped evacuate what incompetent State and local officials could not. That aside, a ZA situation in a liberal haven would run about how they show– the meat eaters survive and the others learn to survive or get eaten in turn as your protectors fall away. It will be interesting to watch the characters change. Part of it could be how these unlikable character evolve as the veneer of civilization falls away. A military occupation probably would turn quickly into a us versus them scenario and is relatively accurate except for the god-awful velcro patches on their headgear– they are sewn on for god’s sake.




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    1. I will agree, Katrina was probably the single greatest moment in US history for the Coast Guard. Many of the active military were professional about their jobs as well. The quality of the performance of a unit has a lot to do with the culture that exists within it.

      Look at the Stanford Prison Experiment. It has been repeated many times and always with the same results. Give some people unchecked power than they will become bullies. One of the ways to keep that from happening is by encouraging the group to be self policing. If the group says “this is wrong” and stops individuals from becoming bullies. If that doesn’t happen, the extreme fringe of the group will take control and everything goes to hell.

      The strong sense of duty and unit cohesion that an elite group like the 82nd helps keep that in check. Especially when the 82nd just returned from deployment. A National Guard unit may not be as disciplined. The notoriously corrupt NOPD were worse than the regular looters.

      The point is, it is very, very easy to go from disciplined and professional to tyrants. That is group psychology 101. It’s why frats can go overboard and haze a pledge to death. Individually they may be decent kids, as a group, the extreme takes over.

      In the show, we’ve only dealt with one solider, the a##hole lieutenant. My military experience was limited to ROTC, but basic psychology and a study of history shows that an a##hole lieutenant will make his soldiers into a##holes unless they stand up to him and say “this is wrong.” In group dynamics, one bad apple in command can ruin the whole bunch. The difference between a group like the 82nd and the NOPD is a command structure that says “we are professionals and this is the behavior we are going to show.”




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  5. You said that George Bush passed an executive order about taking people’s guns. Congress can pass laws. But presidents can only pass gas. Bush would have told the NSC to draw up an E.O. for him to sign.




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    1. The executive order applied to what the President has the ability control directly, namely the US military, Coast Guard, and Federal Law Enforcement. The bill passed by Congress and signed by Bush applied to the states.




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