Thematically, The Walking Dead is a broken record; it keeps returning to the idea that men and women are the real monsters amid the zombie apocalypse. This, in turn, makes me into a broken record because ultimately everything of interest in the comic that is worth commenting on connects to the theme of the monstrosity in the heart of man.
When you have no where else to go thematically the only thing you can do is ramp up the extremity, which is exactly what Fear the Hunters does. Brutality is the order of the day. Ben kills Billy, his twin brother, mashing the button on a number of cultural taboos: fratricide, violence against children, violence enacted by children, etc. Carl solves the Gordian knot of what the group should do with Ben by sneaking into van where he's been confined and killing him. Carl acts as judge, jury, and executioner; he is a carnivalesque parody of his father's role as patriarch of the group.
The main event in this arc is the group's encounter with a team of murderous cannibals who call themselves the Hunters. Dale falls into their clutches and gets his leg eaten. (Joke's on them though; Dale is tainted meat because a zombie already chomped on him.) Rick stages a stand-off with the Hunters and, with the aid of Andrea's sharpshooting, manages to disarm and capture them. The group then spends the rest of the evening torturing and killing the cannibals because apparently we needed a heavy-handed reminder that the group--whom we are imagined to still believe are the "heroes" of the narrative--are really just people, and people are really just monsters.
From the hip
- Note that the importance of the confessional act I covered in the last installment rears its head again. Rick thinks he is confessing to the horrid things he did to the Hunters to Abraham, but in reality he's confessing to Carl. Carl confesses to killing Ben to his father. Must be like staring into a mirror.
- The cynical part of me wonders if killing off Ben, Billy, and Dale was a matter of convenience to free Andrea up for some new plot-line. My guess: she and Rick form a romantic attachment.