Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Walking Dead: God thoughts on the Isolation Episode

In the Walking Dead Episode, Isolation, we see the community is forced to isolate some individuals who have become infected with a dangerous flu for fear that they will die and turn into zombies. The plot twist brings home the reality that the zombie infection can no longer be kept out with chain link fences because it lies already resident within each person. Accepting that the infection is a metaphor for sin, we see the catastrophic results when Tyreese finds the burned bodies of two people brutally murdered in a misguided attempt to stop the spread of the flu.

As the number of the sick increases, the community must try and find a solution to stave of the destruction of the prison community. Two responses are contrasted. One is headed up by Darryl who leads a team on a dangerous search for antibiotics at a distant veterinary clinic. As they set out on the highway we quickly see his group swamped by a zombie horde and forced to abandon their car. A second solitary response is made by Hershel, who reminiscent of Christ, leaves the protection of the walled camp to prepare a means of salvation in the form of blood red elderberries, which he will use to make a herbal tea for the sick. While picking the berries, he encounters two pathetic zombies, one bound by the roots of a tree, and one hobbled by an animal trap, a picture of the two criminals crucified and bound on either side of Jesus while he was on the cross.

Against the protest of both Rick and his daughter, Hershel then enters the quarantined area with only a dirty scarf across his mouth. Here we see Hershel is portrayed as a picture of Christ who comes to those who are sick with sin and in need of a doctor. His first patient is the community doctor before whom he kneels like a disheveled priest to offer a communion made with the elderberry tea. As the doctor coughs uncontrollably, we see Hershel receive blood splatter over his forehead and protective scarf. Instead of hiding his face he simply removes the scarf and wipes away the blood, another symbol reminiscent of Christ whose death took upon himself the contamination of human sin and allowed the removal of the religious veil between man and God.

The last encounter in the quarantine scene is between Hershel and Glenn and it hints at the human response required for such an act of sacrifice. Glenn is ready to give up hope in the face of what looks like imminent death, but as he receives the tea Hershel tells Glenn, “you can believe somehow, now we all have jobs here. That ones yours.” In the new testament Jesus is asked what kind of work does God want from people. He answers "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent" (John 6:29).  Here we see the heart of the Walking Dead’s underlying question about the human condition. What can be done about the infection that we all are carrying?  Is it inevitable that we will all end up as broken empty rotting flesh or is there a means of salvation?


  1. I was working on a similar piece (though I may retire it now that I've read yours). The difference lay in the fact that I focused on death instead of sin directly. The one group sought survival by inflicting death on others in order to protect themselves from death, whereas Hershel enters into death for the sake of others. He was free from the fear of death, and thus death had no hold on his choices, freeing them to be truly loving. Most sin can be linked to the fear of death on some level.

    1. Jamie thank you for the insightful comment. I agree that there are many angles that could be taken on this episode. I would wager that Hershel will die as a consequence of his sacrifice.

    2. I agree, I think he will to. But because he is saved from death, he wins in losing.

  2. You have an amazing gift Mark. God sure works through you! Thank you for sharing this insight and for encouraging people to wonder.


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