In AMC’s The Walking Dead, survivors of the zombie apocalypse fight to survive. All around them, undead “walkers” lurk, hungry for fresh flesh. The show continues to grow in popularity and has crossed over from nerd favorite to cultural phenomenon. Season Four starts soon, and I’ll be watching.
Although I’m a fan, something bothered me about Dead’s gleeful goriness. If the zombifying disease seemed so dangerously virulent, why would the characters splash themselves with zombie guts so nonchalantly?
Presumably, any small scratch or wound represented a potential infection point, right? Let a single drop of “walker juice” slip through, and it’s game over. And what if the disease could spread via any exposed orifice (say, the eye or the mouth)? You’d think the heroes would be more careful about spilling walker blood.
And they’d definitely want to clean themselves up afterwards. If you knew that careless nose-picking could literally rot out your brain, wouldn’t you at least wash your hands? Wouldn’t you take every precaution possible until you knew exactly how the virus spread? What if you could catch it by breathing, like the cold or flu? Why don’t the characters loot those abandoned grocery stores for breathing masks, surgical gloves and antibiotics (along with baby formula and weapons)?
Two reasons: First, unbridled zombie-bashing attracts more viewers. Hypochondriac heroes don’t swing that baseball bat with the same gusto. Second, who wants to filter every line of dialogue through a surgical mask?
SPOILER ALERT: As it turns out, this isn’t how the Walking Dead virus works. A zombie bite doesn’t infect you; you’re infected already. Anyone who dies turns into a walker. Zombie bites simply kill you more quickly—through blood loss or infection. You could bathe in zombie-juice, and it wouldn’t necessarily kill you. ↩
It’s an fun plot twist (and a major season two reveal). It’s also pretty confusing for viewers.