So just how much ground are the folks in The Walking Dead really covering? That's a question that I've been asking myself quite a bit since - SPOILER ALERT - they scattered in the aftermath of the prison/Governor showdown (part II). In one of the earlier episodes of this season, many characters seem to be overlapping or looping in their paths, never actually meeting up, but seemingly walking just a little faster, slower, to the right or to the left, of their comrades. Or purposefully turning away from the tracks of their former prison housemates and wandering within packs of zombies, in Michonne's case. Throughout the most recent episode Tyreese and Carol, along with young sisters Lizzie and MIka and Rick's baby Judith, watch a plume of smoke go from black to white in the distance. They are generally right to think that the fire is far enough away that they're not in danger of flames coming their way, though the whole 'where there's smoke, there's fire' line would easily be adapted to this zombie-filled world by being changed to 'where there's smoke, there will eventually be a hoard of smoking orc-like zombies to contend with.' I assume this is the fire that Darryl and Beth started in a cathartic-but-not-altogether-sensible scene from a previous episode. I would guess, without being a particularly good cartographer or spatial relations expert, that the fire was perhaps 5-10 miles away from 'The Grove.' But just where is this grove in relation to the prison itself? And how many miles away was the prison from the Governor's idyllic (now destroyed) town? On foot, just how many miles can any of these people truly walk in a day? 10? 20? And how many miles can you really walk if you're rather seriously injured and have at least a few broken ribs? I'm especially referring to Rick and Carl's walk to the quaint, almost 'To Kill a Mockingbird' town where they find emotional catharsis, plenty of chocolate pudding and a nice group of psychopaths. I just feel like Rick couldn't possibly have walked more than five miles in that circumstance? I know these folks are tough, but my god. Also! How is it that Carl and Rick so easily find a whole tree-lined, Mayberry-like street but Darryl and Beth seem to be running through woods and fields for days and days and days before coming across anything with a roof? And how many miles were they running?
If they were all heading in different directions, then why does it still feel like they're all in some little three mile bubble and eventually they're going to meet up. Three miles is just not that big a stretch of land. And seriously, are there really that many train tracks in such a concentrated area? And just where was Carol? How far away from the prison was that suburban neighborhood where Rick left her? And just how many small towns can there be in such a relatively small area? Am I crazy to begin to feel like the world, for all its moody shocks and beautiful angles, is just a little too small? Also, what about all these different houses they come across. They seem so remote, so off the grid in some instances, that I am not quite sure I can wrap my head around a)who actually lived there in the first place and b)how they didn't manage to still stay alive. How did that old man walker in 'The Grove' house die? He had plenty of pecans and deer, apparently?
And lets talk about the gruesome stuff going on in that country club...so they still had a little booze and maybe food? But they did a big mass suicide thing? Who defamed that one corpse? And what the gosh darn heck was exactly the scene that Michonne and Carl find a few weeks ago? The parents and children all dead in a house still chock full of food? I don't get it really. If you can still eat without leaving your house, why bunker down in a terrifyingly pink bedroom and kill your children and yourselves? I'm not saying I don't understand the overwhelming dread and doom and depression that would probably invade many a mind in such circumstances, but I've always figured that I'd go with trying to survive as long as food and water was taken care of. If not for the secret murder in Carol and Tyreese's collective past, I would have definitely rooted for them to stay at that place. Tyreese could lean back in his easy chair, Carol could bake pecans as penance. Of course it's hard to want to stay in a place when a mentally ill 11 year old kills her sister so that everyone will understand that zombies are friendly (What exactly was her big thought? That if Mika was a zombie everyone would see that she was friendly?). I feel as if we're kind of supposed to clue in to the fact that perhaps Lizzie's loose grasp on reality, sistericide and desire to feed and befriend zombies is not entirely an outcome of the world in which they now live. The way Mika comes to comfort her sister when she gets worked up, telling her to look at the flowers and count to three...that seems like a ritual those girls have done before, for years. Years that would certainly include the zombie times, but which would also pre-date them. Did Lizzie have some kind of mental illness? Those relying on medication for mental illnesses would quickly find their drugs depleted. I guess, in a way, it's actually surprising that there aren't more 'crazies' running around in the woods, slowly losing any semblance of normalcy in what is an increasingly shattered (though still so very pretty) world.
So I have some questions about the Walking Dead. And that geographical one really sticks in my craw. I want a map. I want a map I can believe in that places everything in relation to one another...with a legend that clearly notes just what the scale is. I want that so bad...but I bet the writers are afraid of such a map. I'm not interested in the actual locations of the various scenes. I want a map that reflects the fictional world.
I have a similar issue with an entirely different show, which I don't think many folks really watch. And that show is Hart of Dixie. Another show that purportedly takes place in the south...but with an entirely different tone and style and premise. A 'fish out of water'/'city mouse, country mouse' soap opera with strange comedic beats and entirely outlandish characters and plots, this show is so strangely committed to its world that it's hard to hate it, even as its basic geography and many of its characters make no real sense. I want a map for Hart of Dixie too. I especially want to nail down just where in the hell the Rammer Jammer is...the swamp/lagoon bar restaurant, which always seems tucked away in the middle of nowhere seems like - and has sometimes been presented as - it is most certainly a ways away from the town of Blue Bell's center, which is cute as can be with gazebo and a variety of quaint storefronts...and a cabaret because...of course it does. At times it seems like the Rammer Jammer must be at least five miles away from the town square. And yet at other times characters seemingly walk from that gazebo to the Jammer in a matter of minutes. But how! How can that be!
Just some thoughts I have about how worlds are made in the realm of television.