This article by Mike Burke originally appeared on Task & Purpose, a digital news and culture publication dedicated to military and veterans issues.
The former military and police officers on “The Walking Dead” act like they haven't had any training.
The recent season premiere of “The Walking Dead” marked the start of the seventh year we, the audience, willingly watch the most inept group of survivors imaginable, as they attempt to navigate a post-apocalyptic wasteland populated by flesh-eating walkers and the worst human scum. If you’re like me, you usually spend most of each episode verbally berating the characters for their idiocy, and cast judgement on the writers for their inconsistent character development.
Those of us who’ve spent any time in the military are particularly prone to conniptions about the blatant buffoonery of our heroes. I’ve spent nearly every season yelling at the television.
“How about 360 degrees of security, jackasses?”
The blunders started early in the show, and have continued all the way along. In the first season, their camp was overrun by the ravenous undead because security sucked.
Though perhaps forgivable then, it continued to be an issue in the second season as they looted vehicles for fuel and gear. Dale was on overwatch and somehow missed the hundreds of shambling zombies lurching up from behind them. How in the world a guy with binoculars and a scoped rifle is unable to detect approaching threats is left up to the viewer to figure out.
A little vigilance on the part of the characters would be nice, especially considering there are police officers and military vets among them whom you would think might understand concepts like situational awareness.
“Do you even reconnaissance bro?”
At the end of last season, Rick, quite possibly the dumbest of the dumbasses, agreed to take on Negan with little to no intelligence on the guy. Rick’s tribe of misfits has barely survived encounters with cannibals, tyrants, and predators of various stripes, yet suddenly Rick decided he’s the baddest man in the wasteland. His group did just what I knew they would and waltzed into Negan territory murdering people without taking any time to observe them or come up with a long-term plan. As far as I’m concerned the Grimes gang deserved the ass whoopin’ they got.
“Why are you wandering off by yourself during the apocalypse, moron?”
In the military, we have what is commonly referred to as the Buddy System. This means no one goes anywhere alone. If our heroes had adopted this concept early on, it would have prevented Dale from wandering out into an open field at night to have his guts ripped out by a walker who was there because dumbass Carl was wandering alone in the woods because no one is keeping track of each other.
As a side note, if you are with me in any survival situation and your kid can’t obey simple rules, like not touching other people’s weapons, or not wandering off all the time, I will spank his ass clean off. It’s the apocalypse and we don’t have time for lectures, only discipline. (Am I the only one who wanted whiny little Carl to die off in the second season? I was actively cheering for the zombie to eat him in the swamp scene. You know, where he lost the pistol which he stole from Daryl’s saddle bags — a spankable offense in any reality.)
Despite these hard lessons, members of the group continue to run off on their own for various selfish and inane reasons. Carol bails out because she doesn’t want to kill people anymore, which is just plain stupid when you live in a world that has no problem eating you alive and taking all your stuff. Denise, the only one with any medical training, threatens to take off on her own if no one goes with her. Because of this threat, Daryl and Sasha go with her so she can die, conveniently forcing Rick to take Maggie to Hilltop, and we all know how well that went. They should have locked her up in Morgan’s new cell rather than letting the only medic outside of the wire.
“Why the hell isn’t everyone armed all the time?”
Seriously, if you are in the land of the Second Amendment during the Zombie Apocalypse and are unarmed, it is your own stinkin’ fault. When almost everyone is (un)dead, there will be guns and ammo everywhere. Try a Wal-Mart for heaven’s sake. These clowns still keep weapons in what passes for an armory instead of issuing firearms to every household and making each citizen responsible for their own sector for internal defense. I hated Alexandria for this.
“If you don’t want your gun taken away then don’t put it down. EVER!”
The Havamal, the book of Viking wisdom, advises never to take a step without your weapons. In the military, we call this “weapons accountability.” When zombies stalk the streets this is called common freakin’ sense. Those dumb enough to lose their guns should not expect to get them back, particularly if they have no understanding of the proper application of violence.
Essentially, pistols are for fighting your way to your rifles. Rifles are for fighting your way to the vehicles so you can escape the insanely huge army of zombies eating their way through the countryside. If there are more walkers than bullets there is no fighting to be done, just running and shooting things in your way. Notice I said: “… in your way.” Turning around and shooting undead, which are not currently obstacles preventing your escape is a waste of ammo and will only cause you to trip and get eaten. Also, shooting from speeding vehicles generally results in a miss, particularly when only head shots count.
“How come everyone with a rifle only has one magazine?”
I didn’t notice this until recently, but everyone seems to be running around the apocalypse without any spare magazines. As a matter of fact, I can’t ever recall seeing a single magazine change in the whole show. These clowns are pretty loose with the expenditure of ammo, too. They can’t find a method to carry extra mags but have somehow stumbled across every rifle capable of full auto.
“Just die, already!”
“The Walking Dead” is a great show if you want to learn how to die horribly in the apocalypse. I suppose if the characters actually did anything the way I would, Rick would be warlord of North America by now and it would be the most boring show on television. Then again, maybe I’d have more sympathy for the characters if they weren’t so apocalyptically stupid.
Sgt. Maj. Mike Burke has been fighting the forces of evil for over 25 years as a U.S. Marine. With a background in the infantry, he has spent more time overseas than in the continental United States. He has served combat tours with 3rd Battalion 3rd Marines and during the Arab Spring conducted a number of embassy reinforcement missions with FAST Company. Follow Mike Burke on Twitter Task & Purpose,. Follow Task & Purpose on Twitter.
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