During “The Damned” Jesus pulled off a controversial move with The Walking Dead viewers and characters alike, by offering mercy not once but twice to gun-toting Saviors. Faced with a militant Tara and increasingly unstable Morgan, Jesus preached for peace between his forces and the Saviors. While some might see this as dangerous naivete, it’s a viewpoint that The Walking Dead desperately needs, especially in season 8.
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The Conflict of Jesus
The debate over mercy isn’t a new conflict for The Walking Dead. Since season 1 there’s been an ongoing discussion about when it’s “acceptable” to use deadly force. Even if back in those early days it was about whether zombies should be killed or cured, it’s still been part of the characters’ internal conflict for a long time. It’s a long-running issue that has seemingly been explored by almost every side which might make it seem like Jesus bringing it up (yet again) is played out.
However, just because The Walking Dead has explored this issue doesn’t mean it’s still not important and shouldn’t be discussed. The Walking Dead has progressed to the point where a war is necessary but there should still be some talk of morality and ethics about killing during that war. The Walking Dead has moved far past the point of zombies and the apocalypse. The show is now much more about what society people will build when everything has been taken away and that’s why Jesus refusing to shoot unarmed men or giving soldiers the chance to peacefully surrender is more than just lip service to a tired Walking Dead cliche.
Jesus should’ve chosen a better time to bring up armchair ethics. Yet these type of conversations are the real meat of The Walking Dead moving forward. The show is about people learning to build a society with laws, restrictions and morality. Whether the characters or the audience agree with Jesus or not, The Walking Dead needs someone to offer a different point of view and spark debate.
A Whole New War
Jesus’ willingness to show mercy makes the war on The Walking Dead something deeper than just a standard action sequence. While there’s nothing wrong with The Walking Dead embracing the “all-out” part of their “all-out war,” to sustain the show there needs to be more complexity and talk of morality.
The talk of mercy isn’t new but the situation surrounding it is new. The Walking Dead has seen characters come into conflict before season 8 and there have even been battles. Yet there has never been such concentrated attention on the action and gunfire. The stakes are higher than ever and by consequence there needs to be more of examination into the deaths and what they mean for the characters. The point at which death and murder becomes meaningless on The Walking Dead is when the show loses its hook and become just a standard drawn-out action movie.
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Jesus might very well be in the wrong and his efforts to promote mercy could backfire in a big way as season 8 continues. This is especially true since Tara implied that her disagreement with Jesus will carry over to Rick and cause a conflict between Rick and Maggie.
It’s a debate that needs to be had though because it determines what type of show The Walking Dead is moving forward. Will the show become increasingly nihilistic and violent or will there be some hope for the world and the characters? The debate isn’t new but it’s one of the pillars of The Walking Dead.
Do you agree? How did you feel about Jesus preaching for mercy? Is he being too foolish? Is the debate too played out on The Walking Dead? Do you agree with Jesus or with Tara?
The Walking Dead season 8 airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC. Want more news? Like our Walking Dead Facebook page.
(Image courtesy of AMC)