Can you believe it?! Dr. Stephen Edwards, indirectly, murders another doctor just to prevent the chance of his being replaced. What a sniveling coward. He admits that he did it because of fear. We all know a maggot when we see it.
And yet, if we are honest with ourselves, would we do anything different?
The episode called “Slabtown” ends with Dr. Edwards justifying his self-preservative actions by pointing to the disciple Peter as he denies Jesus, as the model for his behavior–if Peter didn’t betray Jesus, he too would have been crucified. The irony is that the whole point of the Bible is to declare that in order to be fully human one must exemplify Christ who willingly sacrifices his life for all of humanity, not Peter. The other whole point of the Bible is that this impossible for an ordinary human being to do this. We are very much like Peter and Dr. Edwards.
Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta has become the site of a static, but unstable society where Dawn Lerner holds tenuous authority over a gang of immaculately dressed officers of the law. The hospital runs on an economy of obligation where your service to the community is balanced against the resources used to restore you to health, the food you eat and your protection, etc. Everyone must do their part. The officers keep everyone safe and the women, in return, must offer their bodies to them in payment.
Dawn allows all this because she has a vision for the future: the restoration of civilization. So she believes the compromises are worth it. Her idea is that rescue will eventually come and they must survive and ultimately “help put the world back together.” This is “the greater good” that blinds her of the evil that is taking place under her watch. Dawn says to Beth that she (that is Beth) only has value to the extent that she supports her optimistic vision of the future.
Dawn has mistakenly replaced an ultimate thing, with a good thing. This always leads to trouble. The good thing is the reestablishment of civilization. The ultimate thing is the value of human beings. Humanity has value because in it there is something transcendent within it. Walkers are humanity without the spark of the transcendent. Dr. Edwards knows this and says as much when he talks about the abandoned Caravaggio–he says, “It’s about being more than animals.” He gets it intellectually, but he is unable to live it. He kills the rival doctor.
Dawn sums up the system: “If we take, we give back. It’s only fair.” Human beings are very comfortable with this type of economy because we are in control. Another whole point of the Bible is that are not saved by our own virtue or ability to maintain a positive ledger. It’s all about Grace–a free gift, completely unearned. Peter realized this when whe he met, and was forgive by, the resurrected Jesus. He lost all his fear and willingly faced execution far more brutal than being chomped on by zombies.
Oh, and one more thing: I love Hal Gorman’s last words: “Lucky for me, your not a fighter.”