“Made the choice to go away. Drink from the fountain of decay. Tear a hole in the exquisite red. Fuck the rest and stab it dead,” sings Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails in the song “Somewhat Damaged.” The 1999 song was on the album Fragile. Most recently it was featured on The Walking Dead Episode “Try.” It is dark song for a dark show, but as I fan of both The Walking Dead and Nine Inch Nails, I thought it apt.
I watched the penultimate episode of The Walking Dead. Rick tries to help Jessie deal with her abusive husband Pete. Carol suggests killing Pete. Rick talks to Deanna, who refuses to step in and upset the balance of their perfect community. Then Rick goes to Jessie herself. After some pleading, Jessie agrees to let Rick confront Pete. Pete doesn’t take fondly to Rick interfering and next thing you know, they are in an all out brawl. Both Jessie and Carl try to break up the fight that ended up in the street, but they got knocked out of the way. Rick knocks Pete out cold finally and Deanna tries to approach him. Rick pulls a gun on her and then give this big speech about how horrible the world really is. If Rick is going to be their bodyguard or police then he needs to do as he sees fit.
Deanna originally suggested exiling Pete, but Rick shot that idea down. He was afraid not just of Pete becoming a walker, but of Pete surviving long enough to exact revenge on Alexandria. It is entirely possible and all too likely that he would find other survivors to join up with and then Alexandria with. We saw this happen with Woodbury and the Governor. Maybe Pete isn’t as smart or evil as The Governor,but why take that chance?
Killing Pete for being a wife beater seems a little extreme in our world. Jail time and a restraining order would be the rational way to go—the legal way to go. But in a post-apocalyptic world the rules have changed. Killing Pete is a very rational and calculated move. It is a wise move in a cut-throat culture. Rick and Carol have survived as long as they have because they figure out quickly that being kind and trusting usually gets you killed.
That is not to say that they are bad people like Father Gabriel says they are. Our group of survivors struggles everyday to try to remain human and keep the monster on a leash. They’ve shed more than their fair share of blood, both human and undead, however, they have not become rapists, murderers or cannibals in the process. They consider themselves in a constant state of war and thus killing is acceptable. What isn’t acceptable is random violence or enjoying that necessary evil. It is a fine line, but is is the only line that keeps them alive and able to live with themselves.