It’s been a week since HBO’s Game of Thrones rocked us with the episode “Hardhome” and introduced to the world at long last the truly terrifying threat that is the White Walkers and their “Army of the Undead”. I am not going to lie here; I am still having nightmares over those fast paced terrifying last 20 minutes. It has caused a rather large debate in my house hold - who did it better, GOT or TWD - in the “zombie department”. I am a very large nerd and have decided to break it all down for you, here on my blog, putting the heated discussion to rest once and for all.
LET’S BACK IT UP SHALL WE?
I have a rather large amount of people in my FB news feed that have jumped on TWD bandwagon merely because it is one of the biggest juggernaut shows on television since ABC’s Lost. I swear to Satan if I have to read one more “TWD WAS SO INTENSE TONIGHT GUYS, BEST SHOW EVER, I LOVE ZOMBIES” status, I might lose it. I know what you are thinking, just hide these people from your feed, or delete them. I can’t, some of these “friends” are people I went to high school with and it gives me so much pleasure watching their lives fall apart through social media. I am well aware I am a sadistic asshole, thank you; I do not need a reminder. I kid you not, I somehow ended up in a comment war with one of those “friends” because they were blissfully unaware TWD is based off a very popular comic which is still in print with new issues. I had linked this person to the cold hard facts and they were still dead set on letting me know the show came BEFORE the comic. In the end, despite my love of arguing I let this poor soul win. Deep down she knows she’s a fucking idiot and that’s all that really needs to matter. I will say this though, in regards to GOT, there aren’t as many idiots reporting the play by play action every fucking episode like TWD. I haven’t quite decided if it’s because GOT is on HBO and most people these days won’t pay for that extravagance (I told Kristen – my wife / roommate - we will not live without the extravagance) or, GOT is far too complex for their underdeveloped brains. The simplicity of the plots / story lines of TWD are easier to grasp and I can understand why single cell organisms are so in awe with the show. The intricate and complex plot / story and mind numbing yet AWESOME theories surrounding the GOT world can sometimes be too much for some. Other people find joy in simple gore over the complexity of humanity, to each their own.
Now that I have successfully insulted most of my friends on FB we can move onto the meat of this conversation.
BACK TO PRESENT DAY
Since the beginning of TWD zombies have always been a looming presence. I have been an avid watcher since day one. The Heavy Metal Bearded Boyfriend (HMBB for short) and I started dating the week the show premiered and watched the pilot together, excited for its progression. TWD does hold a special place in my heart, with the HMBB and of course my love television writing. As the story has progressed through the years, TWD has become less about zombies and more about the humans living in a post- apocalyptic world. This has always been the intent of the show, and has been met with backlash from the untrained eye. I have had several discussions with other television friends who work behind the scenes like me about AMC and how they have handled the progression of the show. Although I am fond of the show, I find myself reading reviews of episodes before watching. Why? I want to know if they are walking around for an entire hour or if something exciting is actually going to happen. TWD being on AMC gives it a chance to have roughly 22 episodes a season to really work on very in-depth character development along with the gore and action everyone expects. Unfortunately for me, I feel like there is too much character development and not enough action. Yes, they are starting to hit their mark better on this subject but it has been a LONG time coming. They could easily move the show along faster and add more content. I see a 13 episode season being drug out to 22 episodes. I unfortunately do not think the zombies are even remotely scary anymore and I think that is the point when the people are becoming more terrifying by the minute. Reverting back to the people I scroll past in my FB feed, they are the ones who claim TWD is so intense. Really, that’s what you call intense? I’d hate to be around those people when the world really does go to shit. I felt my heart hit the pit of my stomach more watching humans killing other humans like cattle for meat at Terminus than when a zombie horde slowly falls through a fence and hobbles towards you slower than a baby learning to crawl. Regardless, as long as TWD has comic book type characters like Daryl Dixon and Michonne and their special effects department keeps pushing the limits of prosthetics (I studied movie makeup in college, BOOYA bitches) I’m going to keep being loyal and watch. I will still have my opinions of course, but if I didn’t I wouldn’t be a very good writer and wouldn’t have any business writing for television. BOOM.
Game of Thrones as well, from the beginning had a very looming notion something bigger was coming. I will never forget the HMBB’s face when he seen a White Walker for the first time. He is a VERY cynical television watcher. If you think I am harsh on the subject, have a chat with him. He’ll piss you off real quick and has no ties to the back end of show making like myself to fuel his reasoning’s. I watched the HMBB sit up in his chair and say “what the fuck was that?!?!”. It was a priceless moment in my household, I can assure you. In my opinion anyone who hasn’t read the books, or looked up the back story about GOT on the internet was having the WTF moment with that White Walker. Season after season the characters of Westeros were warned “Winter is Coming” and for the most part no one was fucking listening. What I really enjoy about GOT is the characters reactions to the mythical aspects of the story. The characters who do not believe in myths have the same exact reaction any one of us would have, here in the real world, to magic, dragons and an army of the undead. It makes the mythical story GOT is portraying that much more believable when characters dismiss these ominous threats as old wise tales meant for children. It also makes the story more exciting because you want to see these characters reactions when they witness a myth being a reality. A good example would be Tyrion’s face when he sees one of Dany’s dragons fly over head. A priceless moment, most of us nerdy fans have been waiting 5 years to see. There have been other brief moments over the last couple of seasons of the imposing threat of the White Walkers and their army. It was clear, the Wildling clans who all hate one another came together to get south of the wall before all hell broke loose. Sam had his own encounter with the slow moving army as well. As viewers we just knew it was a threat, there was no way to know how the show runners were going to actually depict the army of the undead in action. Last week we got exactly what we were unerring for. What we witnessed was pure television glory in the most terrifying way. I was on the edge of my seat screaming at the television. For the first time, viewers truly felt the nightmare inducing horror the army of the undead could bring and it was glorious.
On the surface of both shows, TWD “Walkers” and the GOT “Wights” (what members of the undead army are referred to as) are simply zombies one in the same. On a deeper level there’s a little more to the story. In TWD the zombies decay over time, and can be killed with a bullet to the head or decapitation (Michonne katana FTW). In GOT, the Wights are seemingly indestructible. Decapitation does not stop these vicious almost robot like creatures from their quest of killing. The only way to kill a Wight is with fire. Their skin is extremely flammable and the Wildlings always burn their dead as a precaution of a potential “undead status” after the living has passed. In TWD a Walker moves slowly and only in the direction of noises. Sometimes you really don’t know where those Walker hordes are heading or if they really have any direction at all. They are more like really annoying road blocks these days for TWD crew than actual threats. Last week we were given a 20 minute crash course on what’s to come from GOT’s very own undead army and it’s a hell of a lot more terrifying than anything TWD has put forth EVER. The Wights sprint with one goal in mind, take apart the living any way possible. They have the ability to use weapons, and their own mouths to devour their victims. That alone is far more terrifying than anything TWD crew has come up against zombie wise. Watching the horde of Wights fall off that icy cliff and rising up like it was nothing was EPIC. I’d like to see TWD do something like that. The Wights are also controlled by the White Walkers. We watched the Night’s King simply raise his arms and every Wildling who fell to a Wight instantly popped back up like it was NOTHING. We watched the Night’s King give Jon Snow and Tormund Giantsbane an evil yet smug look, almost thanking them with his eyes for his new recruits. In those moments you as a viewer along with the characters of the show realize the quest for the throne isn’t going to mean shit anymore. While Westros is busy scheming and backstabbing, the real threat is practically on its doorstep. This certainly will not be the first and last time we see the army of the undead either. The books GOT is based off of are called “A Song of Ice and Fire” and as viewers we are finally getting validation of what the title really means. In my eyes, it’s going to come down to Dany, her dragons and the White Walkers with their army of the undead. Will this all play out like I hope? Who knows, only time will tell.
So, each show as a distinct version of what they think a “zombie” is. My question is, how would a character like Daryl Dixon survive if he was thrown into a Wight attack? Or better yet, how would a character like Tormund Giantsbane survive in the world of TWD? Daryl is by far my favorite character on TWD. He has had the most depth and character development than most other characters on the show and wasn’t even in the comic. His story is always a nail biter because you really don’t know what’s going to happen to him. If you read the comics like I have, you have a pretty good idea what’s going to happen next with all the other characters except him. Daryl in the TWD world is nothing short of a badass. He has used his hunting and tracking skills in his pre-apocalyptic world to his advantage. Deep down he is kind of a wuss, which makes all of us women watching swoon for him. (Will you just get together with Carol already?). As much as I adore Mr. Dixon, could he really survive fighting against a Wight? His bow and arrow mean shit in a fast paced fight with a horde of Wights. He wouldn’t have his motorcycle to escape on, and would literally be left with his endurance. Can he endure one after another coming at him without stopping? The Wildlings are a tough bunch and fell almost instantly to the horde. I don’t think Daryl would be any different. Tormund Giantsbane is a beast of a man (who I wish would get naked on the show. I am sorry, I cannot help it. I love a good dirty bearded man), who I know physically could take down a TWD horde no problem. The man probably wouldn’t even be out of breath afterwards either. Where I think Tormund Giantsbane would fall short of surviving in a post - apocalyptic world like TWD would be his attitude. He has a temper and does not deal with bullshit. You saw what he did to The Lord of Bones when he didn’t feel like listening to reason. You have seen his decision making skills and his desire to rip a member of The Night’s Watch eyeballs from their sockets. He is not the man to reason, or has any sensible thought processes. Even though he decided to side with Jon Snow, doesn’t mean he didn’t protest the hell out of it first or is still unsure if this is the right one. You could almost compare his attitude about situations with Rick’s from TWD. Now, Rick has his moments of being a rational human being but then sometimes crazy Rick comes out and all hell breaks loose. I think Tormund would have a very tough time surviving on the TWD because he doesn’t reason and even though we have learned you need to have a guard up, I could still see him struggling. He seems like a character who would try to face a world like TWD alone, and we all know it is almost impossible to survive in TWD alone. I could be wrong though, he does have an overwhelming desire to survive that in proper character development he might shine in TWD. I’d rather keep him as a sexy Wildling man fighting for his life. Let the sexual fantasies commence. It’s always fun to think about how other character from other television shows would survive. Yes, I am well aware I have way too much time on my hands.
So, after all of my very long winded rambling about both shows, who did zombie better? TWD is a veteran at the zombie game and brings the gore aspect of a zombie to the table brilliantly. GOT just introduced their undead horde to the world with a driving force. As it sits now, GOT has brought the intensity TWD has been lacking for years. The HMBB has put out the point that both shows can’t really be compared because one is a mythical land and the other is set in present day real life. I like to argue so I cannot confirm he is correct in this debate in person, only in written form. The man will boast about this win for longer than anyone should. He loves it when he can defy me because I am usually never wrong, always right. In this debate, he is right and wins. Looking at the facts of the matter, as much as I could compare the two, they are both in their own realms. Personally, I think GOT brought the intensity and fear back into an undead army. We now have two of the biggest shows on television ever with their own respective zombie hordes. They both bring their own to the table and will have their own devote followers no matter what I say. I am excited to see what GOT will do next with their horde and I am also excited to see if TWD steps up their game in wake of such an amazing debut from GOT.
I’m going to go and watch the next episode of GOT and shit my pants with excitement. Sexy, I know.
Please note, I have more time on my hands than I should and can’t believe you actually read all of this.
END OF NERD RANT.