After The Walking Dead (TWD) writers killed Beth, I lost interest the program altogether and barely watched it at all. I did drop around to see a few minutes of the show, however it didn’t have anything happening so I turned to Downton Abby which airs opposite TWD. Moral choices made by the characters in TWD have created a fascinating story. Rick’s moral choice was to forgive his partner Shane for actions that took place when Rick was in a coma and Shane saved Rick’s family: Lori and Carl. So when Rick discovers that Shane had stepped into the role of husband and father and just might have conceived Lori’s baby, but Rick understands. “Hey, it’s the Zombie Apocalypse and I was presumed dead — I get it. No hard feelings.” But Shane’s moral choice, to keep going after Lori, and even to attempt killing Rick, led to the inevitable choice for Rick: kill or be killed. And that’s the basic premise of TWD: kill or be killed. So what was the deal with Beth pulling out stupid little medical scissors and getting shot by Dawn? It was not a moral choice. It was beyond the logic of the story. It was a really stupid move on the part of the writers. So when it got stupid, I quit watching. Whereas in Downton Abbey, the characters are making moral choices that resonate within their social structure. The drama in Downton Abbey comes from the ‘lack of freewill.’ Characters bound by a rigid social class structure, must make moral choices within the structure to maintain their position. In both storylines, TWD & Downton Abbey, the characters are fraught with moral choices and that my friends makes for good storytelling.
Posted by Emily Suzanne Carter on March 4, 2015
Did anyone notice in the episode with Abraham, etc. that a little conversation between Glen and Maggie focused on the future? And how Glen told Maggie not to feel guilty? About what? I think its about a pregnancy.
And in the Crossed episode, we get a flashback with Maggie holding a newborn Judith — pregnancy is on the way! The writer’s often use flashbacks as a means to foreshadow events.
What’s it going to be, boy or girl?
Posted by Emily Suzanne Carter on November 24, 2014
When, in Season 4, Beth and Daryl were ‘on the road’ they changed each other. Beth’s openness and sense that there were still good people in the world worked on Daryl who had sunk into a guilty, oppressive mind-set.
The writers put two unlike people on stage; characters with vastly different attitudes on life and then let them play out for us expressing opposing world views until they jointly burn down the bootleggers cabin in the woods and find common ground.
The tease of the Daryl-Beth episodes was always the sexual innuendo — an experience male, an inexperienced yet maturing female, alone in the woods. And that dear friends, is no doubt what kept us watching because who cares about a red neck, backwoods anti-hero UNLESS he is in relationship with an innocent, endangered, farmer’s daughter? Then we want to see him switch roles and become a hero.
Beth becomes partly bad — drinking, burning down cabins in the woods — shooting the bird. Daryl, becomes partly human, confessing his heavy load of guilt about not saving her father, carrying her to safety when she twists an ankle.
Slowly they move toward each other. And we are glad, hopeful, anticipating more character growth and change to come. But then they get separated.
Daryl is on his own for a while but falls in with a bad crowd. In the episode titled, “A,” those bad guys happen upon Rick and company, and take them captive with the intention of killing them. Daryl says, “Take me instead.” With that action, he has shifted to the hero’s primary role in fiction, being willing to sacrifice self for the good of others [very Joseph Campbell, Hero with A Thousand Faces].
Following a brutal struggle in which our heroes survive, Rick tells Daryl, “…you are my brother.” At that point, Daryl has a fully transformed group status. He began as an anti-hero to the group. And sustained that status by supporting his biological brother, Merle, a drug dealing, misogynistic, racist. But in the aftermath of the bad guy’s attack, Rick the archetype Western Warrior Hero, tells Daryl “…you are my brother.” Daryl has become a man who bares his soul to Beth and sacrifices himself for Rick. In acquiring Rick as a replacement for his biological brother, Daryl has been awarded the Hero’s Gold Medal and is a fully transformed character.
Back to the Future
So in the Season 5 episode with Daryl and Carol, we encounter a changed man. Daryl even goes down the path of introspection — picking up a book on Surviving Childhood Abuse — starting to wonder what kind of person he has been and can be. In those actions and sentiments, they are both looking toward a better future and Daryl even says to Carol, “We can start over. We gotta.”
That sentiment reflects the positive attitude that Beth held. Daryl is on his way to a house in the suburbs, 3.5 children, a min-van and yellow dog. But wait, in zombie world that reality no longer exists. So how can his new self be played out? Now that’s a story worth tuning in for.
In the Season 5 episode titled, Consumed, we see both Carol and Daryl finally opening up to each other as they hunt for Beth. Then Carol gets hit by a car and carried off to the very hospital where Beth is being held. Carol the mother who has lost a child, Daryl the man who was guilty for letter Beth’s father be killed. What we have here is a father-mother-child reunion coming up — we hope.
Let Carol live! Let Beth become a Warrior Princess! Let Daryl rescue them both!
Meanwhile, back at the hospital where Beth is being held captive, Beth the innocent, naïve girl is learning a trick-or-two herself about survival, subterfuge, manipulation, and power.
Hang on Beth, the cavalry is coming!
Posted by Emily Suzanne Carter on November 22, 2014
I bet Walking Dead needs a Warrior Princess. I mean it is based on comics after all, and one thing comic books excel at is creating amazing women. This image of a blonde comic book Warrior Princess jumping into the mouth of a beast looks like Beth descending the elevator shaft into the pile of dead bodies — don’t you think so too?
After many seasons of building her Character ARC, would the writers just kill her? Isn’t she more interesting as “The new Sheriff in Town?” Rick called her that back in the final episode of Season 4.
In Season 5, we see Beth confronting Dawn, a female police officer, who then beat her up. So far in this story, Beth has not been physically beaten down.
But consider how characters grow in the land of the Walking Dead. They get beaten up and then come back stronger.
Her lesson with Dawn is that direct confrontation is a bad idea. My guess is that she will lead a revolt against Dawn and take her place, then offer the Hospital to Rick’s group for refuge.
But I have to wonder, will they give her a Warrior Princess costume? All Wonder Woman in tights? Maybe a cut, down or redo of Dawn’s uniform that, oh so sadly lost the legs in her pants during a battle royal with the new Warrior Princess.
What will Beth wear as a Warrior Princess?
Posted by Emily Suzanne Carter on November 15, 2014
Walking Dead season 5 opened with blood and guts as we expected in this zombie post-apocalypse horror show. But, we got answers as well to some questions lingering from the cliffhanger end of Season 4.
Did our heroic band of survivors stumble into the clutches of cannibals? Yes they did.
Will they survive — yes they will.
But, unanswered WHERE IS BETH?
To make an educated guess, let’s look at Beth’s storyline, her Character ARC. Where did she start? What’s happed so far? Where is she going?
First let’s consider those authors in the ‘writer’s room’ who put the show together. How do they assemble characters? After that, let’s dig into Beth’s story.
The writers create WARRIOR ARCHETYPES
- Rick the Deputy Sheriff — wears boots, a cowboy looking hat, a gun on his hip and cleans up dens of bad guys — can you say, “Hello Western Warrior Archetype — the COWBOY SHERIFF WARRIOR ARCHETYPE.”
- Michonne — SAMURAI ARCHETYPE.
- Daryl — Hello Robin Hood, the ARCHER ARCHETYPE.
- Andrea — a creative twist on the cliché DUMB BLOND.
- The Governor — a PIRATE with an eye-patch.
- Carol – COMMANDO ARCHETYPE
So, there we are. The writers use archetypes to create Walking Dead characters.
Where does Beth fit?
In the final scenes of Season 4, a flashback shows Carl’s deputy-sheriff hat blowing off his head, Rick picks it up and plunks it on Beth’s head and saying, “There’s a new sheriff in town.”
Why is Beth called the new sheriff? Nothing is accidental in TWD script, so what does that bit of action accomplish? Will Beth become another SHERIFF WARRIOR?
Character ARC for Beth
Is Beth’s a COMING OF AGE story?
- 15 when the Apocalypse struck,
- 16 when Rick and company arrived at the farm,
- 17 when creepy former prisoner tried to flirt with her at the prison/fort.
She grew up in a dry household – no alcohol. She is the baby of the family – a pretty, blue-eyed blonde – no doubt a virgin.
Beautiful Maiden Archetype?
Life in the post-apocalypse world is tough on maidens. She learns to shoot, becomes as well-trained in the arsenal of weapons as the others. Beth is a baby-sister, a nurse, a cook and a singer. She raises emotional spirits among the survivors. She stabs zombies on the fence line. So her emotional growth includes the maiden warrior but hints as another female archetype: the warrior mother.
Her clearly hopeful outlook, her willingness to soothe others, her expressed wish to have a baby suggests she might be able to carry the emotional female-center of the group.
By the time the prison is attacked, when she sees her father beheaded by the Governor, she has become strong warrior and grabs an automatic weapon to fight in the doomed effort to beat-back the attackers.
Into the Forrest
She escapes from the prison with Daryl into the woods. Now Beth is alone in the Forest with a strong male warrior. Where have we seen that before — how about fairy tales where the beautiful maiden is banished from the castle to the magical forest? Forest settings in folklore are places where characters undergo tests, gather strength and acquire new survival skills.
Daryl and Beth find an abandoned car where they take refuge in the trunk. Hey, a car! Where many a couple have found more to do than just sleep. And the two of them are snuggling in the trunk — a tight space. Eek! WHAT COULD HAPPEN? Apparently nothing, but in her coming of age story, she is now confronted with the adult reality of her sexuality. What direction will it take?
With Daryl, she suggests drinking Peach Schnapps but he refuses to let her have Peach Schnapps as her first drink. In this exchange, Daryl is more than just her physical protector; he becomes the protector of her transit to adulthood. Peach Schnapps is for babies and she is no longer a child. Daryl protects her Alcohol Virginity.
At a bootlegger’s cabin that Daryl knows about, she has her first drink – moonshine. Daryl is her escort as she transits to adulthood.
What will happen when they drink alcohol together? Once again sexuality questions are raised.
In the cabin, drinking hard liquor, she invites a game of Never Have I Ever — and what might the ‘never’ be? No doubt about it: its sex.
But Daryl is a man’s man. Not a ladies’ man. Maidens are not for him and perhaps to relieve his sexual and emotional tension, he does a very manly thing — he pees on the wall. Let’s face it, when a man pulls it out and pees publicly he is making a statement about his manhood.
NO sex. Just a hot fight followed by intimate, emotional exchanges that reveal character motivations, goals and obstacles from both of them.
Beth’s sympathy allows Daryl’s strong protective nature to be revealed. Daryl is driven by a motivation to protect. When he could not save Hershel from the Governor, his goals were stymied. Now, in company with Beth, Daryl breaks down emotionally.
In Snow White, the evil queen gives the Maiden a poisoned apple. Biting into the apple, the Maiden falls into a suspended sleep [mythological abduction]. She is put in a coffin by the dwarfs and only awakes when the handsome Prince kisses her. Daryl sleeping in the coffin is a role reversal. Continuing the role reversal, Beth hugging Daryl from behind awakens his emotional self.
Embedded in the sequence we find Beth shooting his bow and arrow — clearly her motivation is survival. Is she changing into Diana, the Roman Goddess of the hunt?
In an attempt to kill a walker with the bow and arrow, Beth turns her ankle. Daryl takes on the role of Mr. Darcy as he carries her piggy back to the house and once in the house carries her across a threshold like Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s hero of yesteryear. The sequence with Beth and Daryl throws out a lot of sexual innuendo and we get to know them much better as they struggle and fight. But a herd of zombies breaks up the party.
Daryl is sidelined killing said zombies. The last we see of Beth is her bag on the ground and a car peeling out with a cross painted on it.
Beth has been Abducted
In ancient mythologies, the abducted girl is taken to the underworld — Hades, hell. While she is gone the earth dries up and nothing grows. Daryl’s heart dries up. He is undone by her loss and takes up with the Claimed group, then gets taken in by cannibals. But the first time he sees a car like the one that took her, he is off and chasing it.
But he is also with Carol, are the writers working up to a second triangular affair? Carol, Daryl, Beth?
How Do Maidens and Virginal Princesses End Up?
Virginal Princesses end up married to the Prince — a happily, ever after ending.
Some of them are sacrificed at the volcano to appease the God of Fire — a not so happy ending but one with some prestige.
Or they are sacrificed to the monster in the castle (King Kong? Beauty and the Beast?) to keep him away from the villagers.
Or, is she the new dumb blond? Will she make stupid decisions like Andre did? Both she and Andrea could take care of themselves out among the zombies but that didn’t save Andrea from her own failings and inability to see the dark side.
A TV-teasing-trailer shows Beth rising from a hospital bed and gazing out the window to a rooftop parking lot in a big city. The teaser ends with a female police officer entering the room accompanied by a male doctor. His mouth is red, the officer is wearing red lipstick – hmmm? Are we seeing more sexual innuendo around Beth?
Well, well, well!
A beautiful young woman, stranded high atop a tower and held against her will by a threatening older woman…hmmm? We have seen that in fairy tales of yore — so I’m going with Beautiful Maiden in the Tower Archetype. Except in the updated version of the story the princess gets herself out of the tower.
The next episode where all is revealed is titled, Slabtown.
We see Beth alone, sitting on the edge of an elevator shaft in a TV-teaser clip. Yeah. She will get herself out!
But, does Beth save the prince?
And, does the title of the next episode, Slabtown,
indicate that it is a place of death?
A modern-day Hades?
Posted by Emily Suzanne Carter on October 29, 2014
Our small group meets on Sunday afternoons to share our novels-in-progress and discuss the formal aspects of Commercial Genre Fiction. We do not address literary fiction so leave any thought of your English Teacher’s prescriptive world behind.
The workshop is part of UT’s Continuing and Innovative Education program.
Here’s What We Talk About Each Week:
- Writer’s are in the entertainment industry
- Left-brain, right-brain approaches to writing
- Feedback is not Editing
- Understanding commercial genre fiction
- How scenes functions in commercial genre novels
- Character goals, motivations, conflicts in scenes
Plot using Beat Sheets, Hero’s Journey, or the Three Act Structure
Plot is the backbone of your story.
- Personal consults with the instructor
- Character case study, The Walking Dead
- Many of the Walking Dead characters represent Archetypes drawn from historical sources. For example, the Japanese Samurai warrior serves as a real-life model for the Walking Dead character named Michonne.
7 – Story ARCS
- Where does your story start? Where does it end? A case study, Jurassic Park
- Scene case study: Jaws. In a tender scene between father and son, we see the father character who is beat up because a woman in town has accused him of letting her son be eaten by the Great White shark that is cruising just off shore in this sea-coast town. He starts the scene a broken man and we see his restorative interaction with his own son and we also learn the ‘theme’ of this film which is ‘family is worth risking everything to save.’ with a kiss from his young child he is made whole enough to go out and fight the shark. Kisses are big in Commercial Genre Fiction.
9-Crafting a Mini-story Template
- Crafting a concise description of your novel.
- Elements of the Writing Life: trust your own voice.
- Course Summary
Join us on a novel-writing journey.
Posted by Emily Suzanne Carter on September 30, 2014