The Walking Dead, “What We Become”
The latest volume of Walking Dead begins with a dream: Rick saves Carl at the last moment before he is hit by a passing car. Rick shares his fear of losing his son to Lori and while the two share a tender moment, Lori turns into a zombie and begins tearing her husband apart. He wakes up, finding himself back at the camp he, Abraham and the rest of the group have set up. Taking over guard duty, Rick spends the rest of the night trying to communicate with his dead wife over the telephone.
While running through a small town gathering supplies, Porter makes an observation that the zombies in the air are weaker than any they’ve come across before and, as a scientist, he wants to stick around to study them but is vehemently denied by his fellow survivors. Back at camp, Glenn discovers that Maggie has hung herself in grief over the death of her family from the Woodbury assault. Rick and Abraham come to blows when the solider suggest they kill Maggie before she returns as a zombie appears, the two men exchanging blows just as the woman wakes up from Glenn’s resuscitation. Tensions remain high between the two men, but in a private moment with Rosita, Abraham confesses that he feels remorse for the assault and for almost getting Rick get killed by a creature in an earlier encounter.
As the survivors make their way to Washington D.C., they find their journey stymied by the hundreds of abandoned vehicles on the highway. While Michonne settles in with the survivors, Rick, Carl and Abraham scout on ahead for supplies. Their mission is stymied by three individuals who take their weapons and gleefully promise to unleash unspeakable horrors to Carl, who’s frantic screams and look of pure terror invigorates Rick, allowing him to turn on his captors and save his son – all at the risk of succumbing to barbarism. The morning after, Abraham confides in Rick, retelling the story of how he lost his family due to people in his own grown going mad and brutalizing his loved ones. The three continue their search for supplies and realize that they have stumbled into Rick’s neighborhood and are greeted by Morgan who has taken on a more feral look since he and Rick last met.
Morgan’s disheveled look was due to the loss of his son, who was attacked an infected by a roamer and spend the rest of his undead existence chained up and fed anyone who happen to wander around his house. Rick is mortified by this revelation and offers to have the father join his group, but only after he puts his son out of his misery. As Abraham questions Rick about Morgan’s mental health, they hear a gun go off and assume Morgan has killed his child, but instead he has shot the chain restraining him, allowing it to shuffle away into the wilderness. On the way back to Michonne’s camp, Rick and crew are held up by a massive herd of zombies numbering in the hundreds forcing them to flee into a nearby house until it passes. When they eventually make it back and force everyone to pack up and leave, Dale begins to show a measure of frustration and anger towards Rick for what he perceives as putting everybody’s lives in danger each time he runs off.
Adults: Rick, Andrea, Glenn, Dale, Maggie, Michonne, Abraham, Rosita, Eugene
Children: Carl, Sophia, Billy, Ben
The title “What We Become” speaks volumes of what this issue of The Walking Dead has to say about Rick and those around him. Abraham, Rick and Morgan experience a moment in which the walls they’ve built up around themselves to safely protect their and humanity have begun to break down due to the constant stress, fear and paranoia of having to live life not knowing if you are going to survive the night and constantly be surrounded by death and madness. Up until now, Rick has had to deal with people who have lost their minds and no matter how bad things got, he managed to keep himself together and brave horrors around him. That was, however, until his wife and child were killed. In the previous volume, we’re forced to question Rick’s health when after he believes to be talking to his dead wife on a disconnected phone. Here, we get to see Rick embraces animal savagery when Carl’s innocence (well, what’s left of it) is threatened by the gang of rapists. This is a significant change in our hero and a distressing one at that. Rick has lashed out before, but never this violently. He’s no longer willing to accept immoral behavior
The reappearance of Morgan is very interesting for two reasons: (a) his actions mirror those of The Governor and (b) he the personification of a “what if?” moment – what if Rick had lost Carl? Would he turn out the same way? Having been forced to witness seeing his son turn into a zombie, Morgan kept his child chained up and fed him those who happened to wander near his home. Unlike the Governor, however, Morgan doesn’t do this out of pure evil. He simply doesn’t know what to do and when you’ve suffered as greatly as Morgan has, it can be difficult to make rational decisions. With his son now undead, Morgan experienced a breakdown that led him to hurting (presumably) innocent people because he simply couldn’t accept that his son, his sole reason for survival was gone. It makes you wonder how different things would have been if Rick found the corpses of his wife and son after escaping the hospital or not finding them among the Atlanta survivors in “Days Gone Bye.”
There’s an interesting scene towards the end of the chapter involving one of the twins pulling out the innards of a dead cat in the field – was the cat already dead or did the boy kill it? Clearly, the events that occur in this volume seem to be leading our heroes toward a considerably dark path and it makes you wonder just how bad things are going to get.
So…how about that scene with Rick tearing that guy’s throat out? Holy cow.