This post contains spoilers through the Nov. 20 episode of The Walking Dead.
Last night on The Walking Dead, the prospect of new life, whether in the form of a pregnancy, a revitalized sex drive, or the dream of a cure for “Mom. Sean. Mr. and Mrs. Fisher. Lacy. Duncan,” got everyone in trouble.
First, there’s the question of the walkers in the barn, fed by chickens and kept safe. Dale, providing at least half-successfully wily, lets Hershel know he knows what’s up without implicating Glen, only to find himself in a moral debate with their host. Hershel’s upset by the walker’s death at the well, suggesting it was coarsening. “You killed a person,” he tells Dale. “We don’t shoot sick people…My wife and stepson are in that barn. They’re people.” But he has the benefit of isolation, something that still doesn’t quite strike me as plausible. And Maggie has their beliefs on that score challenged when she’s attacked by a walker in the pharmacy and saved only by Glen’s brutal and brutally efficient intervention. But the budding affection between them is too much for her. “You’re smart, you’re a leader, but your friends don’t see it,” Maggie tells Glen. “They don’t want to see it. You’re just their errand boy. Walker in the well? Send Glen down. You’re walker bait.” Rick and his people may be right about what it takes to survive, but Hershel may be right that it’s cost them something along the way.
Then, there’s the matter of Lori’s abortion. Maggie’s right that there’s something horrible about Lori making Glen take risks for her, particularly for something she’s not even sure will work. And I appreciate that the show suggested it would be entirely reasonable for Lori to not want to bring a child into a zombie-ridden world. “I got a deep well to draw on. I still remember joy. But I think Carl’s is already running dry,” she explains. I understand that keeping her pregnant makes the show more complicated and provides a lot of dramatic tension, or as Glen puts it, “You’re pregnant. You need vitamins. Medicine. A nice pillow.” And it’s interesting that the show presented her decision to vomit up the morning-after pills as less rational than trying to go through with an abortion. But it’s still a fairly typical television approach to abortion on television: get absolutely up to the edge of the prospect, then back aggressively away from it.
And then, as Lori decides to have Rick’s child, Shane and Andrea, hyped up by stress, have sex in a car and return to Hershel’s farm changed. What will it mean for Lori, who’s been unable to do the right thing and relinquish her hold over Shane, to see his affections shifted. What will it mean for Dale to have Andrea revitalized, not reliant on him for her ties to life and to the group? In a world dominated by death, the life force, and the hope it engenders, can be awfully dangerous.