Tuesday 13 March 2012

The Angel and Devil on Andrea's shoulder

As the countdown to the Season Two Finale begins, fans of The Walking Dead wonder which cast members will fail to survive and fight on in Season Three. For the first time since the group left the CDC in Atlanta, I find myself hoping Andrea is not part of the upcoming body count.

Oh, I still don’t like her much. I also don’t like Lori, to the point I almost cringe typing my own name. The argument the two women had in the kitchen of the farmhouse a few episodes ago drove me crazy, because I agreed with every single rotten thing they said about each other. I sort of hoped a walker would lurch out of the pantry and have a bitch buffet.

But now I feel as if Andrea is on the cusp of something, and it could be very interesting. She’s made a lot of transitions in the first two seasons, perhaps more than any other character. She started out trying to be tough, going into town on missions. Still, despite being a civil rights attorney with – presumably – a life of her own, she in many ways remained the daughter who fished with her father and wanted to make up for ignoring her younger sister.

When Amy was attacked and awoke as a walker, Andrea dug deep, searching for the inner strength to do what had to be done to prevent her baby sister from continuing in that dark existence. It was undoubtedly the most difficult thing she’d ever had to do, but that decision came from love, not calculated, strategic violence. The act changed her profoundly, making her doubt her will to live in this new reality.

Dale wouldn’t let her “opt out.” Seeing him as her surrogate father, Andrea saved herself to save him, and eventually regained her will to go on. But in order to protect herself from further emotional and psychological damage, she started pushing Dale away and stomped all her emotional sensitivity down, adopting a stoic, practical persona. And who guided her and nurtured this mercenary attitude? Shane. He taught her to shoot, and he encouraged her to tap into her repressed rage to find the cold, dead attitude he believed she needed to survive.

As the debate raged about deciding Randall’s fate, Dale reminded her of her former role as a civil rights attorney. She cared about fighting for people who couldn’t fight for themselves. By the time a decision was reached, she was wavering, asking if they could find another way to eliminate the threat the boy posed, short of killing him.

Dale was the angel on one shoulder, whispering in her ear about humanity, fighting for what’s right, and not letting the daily horrors change who she is on a fundamental level. Meanwhile, Shane was the devil on the other shoulder, urging her to shed her emotions in favor of a hard, calculating, merciless approach, focused on nothing but survival.

Now, in the space of about twenty-four hours, Andrea has lost her two primary influences. Her angel died, his integrity intact, even if his innards were not. Her devil also died, victim of his own murderous plot and the error of underestimating exactly how far Rick would go to protect his family.

Andrea has alienated herself from much of the group. The remaining men don’t really see her as the warrior she tried to become, and the women see her as a slacker or a cold, distant, delusional guardian wanna-be. Who will become her new stabilizing or destabilizing influence, if anyone? Will she become even more isolated and bitter in the absence of Dale? Will she become more ruthless, stepping up to fill the void left by Shane? Or will she remember her connection to Dale and recover her emotional balance, perhaps even developing into a unifying force in this traumatized, fractured group?

If she isn’t among the dead (or un-dead) at the end of the Season Two Finale, she will be a fascinating character to watch in Season Three.

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