Monday, October 17, 2011

A Reaction to "The Walking Dead"--Where is the military?

In the two months of this blog I've talked more about zombies than anything else.  You might think that resulted from me having seen the current cable TV series on zombies, AMC's "The Walking Dead." But in fact I hadn't watched it until this past week.

Having seen the series now, which by the way does show zombies eating about anything they can get their hands on, including wild animals (which seem immune to the disease), I'm asking myself what should be an obvious question:  Where is the military in all this?

The show is set in the Atlanta region and more than once shows a single abandoned tank in a defensive position, apparently having been overrun by zombies.  Hey, I recognize this is just a story with a certain defined premise and is more interested in looking at the human characters going through the zombie apocalypse than the zombies themselves, but I found the suspension of disbelief required to enjoy any story severely strained by seeing an tank abandoned due to a zombie attack.  I mean, really?  Seriously?  Look, even if you ran out of ammo, all you need is diesel fuel and a tank is the ultimate zombie-killing machine.  Maybe a car might be overwhelmed with walking dead bodies pushing on it, especially at a slow speed.  But an M1 tank?  You'd plow through the living corpses like a tractor through ears of corn.

So this brought to mind a new type of zombie story, one yet untold as far as I know:  From the point of view of the military.  I admit that ordinary citizens facing horror in some ways is inherently more interesting, but a zombie hunting military unit with a large chunk of equipment still intact would have a different kind of vibe to it and still would have the potential to be a powerful story.

This would be especially true if the story abandoned the standard, "You have to be bitten by a zombie to become one yourself" mantra, which "The Walking Dead" upholds.  In the military story I propose, perhaps even a tiny splattered drop could spread the blood-borne pathogen.  The unit would therefore face far more cases of their own turning into the bad guys than standard zombie fare.  That coupled with a bit of heightening the intelligence of zombies, enough to allow them to operate weapons and equipment, albeit rather robotically, and you have an altogether different kind of story, one in some ways more like the apocalyptic world of the Terminator movies than what we would recognize as a zombie film.

In this sort of story, a character struggle could resonate along an axis of what to do about the zombies?  Shall we kill them all?  Or should we look for a cure?

I'd steer a story along the lines of a cure being possible but difficult.  Good people in the military unit would be willing to undergo the hardships required to bring back those that seem hopelessly lost, while the more sinister figures would be drawn toward "Let's just kill them all."

I see that sort of axis as having a spiritual application--is it better to destroy our enemies, or to loving bring them over to our side?  Please note which of the two options is easier...



  1. As a zombie story lover, you would probably like "World War Z". While it is not all from a military perspective, significant portions are, including an entire retooling of tactics. I would be interested to see what you as a military person, thinks of it.

  2. I'll take a look at it. Obviously I haven't seen it before. It's a funny thing though that I keep finding myself unrolling what I think are original ideas on stories, only to discover they weren't quite as original as I thought...