Related question: Why does Oscar volunteer to help save Glenn and Maggie? Does this make sense based on how he was treated by the survivors? I guess he must be grateful for the opportunity to prove himself trustworthy by killing Andrew, the only other remaining black former prisoner. The good Negro proves the depth of his goodness by defeating the bad Negro to make friends with the white people. In the absence of any other sense of character or representation of his relationships between people hunkered down together in a prison cafeteria for ten months, this violence between black characters becomes suspect. We can have an entire episode that takes place in Woodbury so we can know more about this season’s villain and the fate of Andrea, but we can’t have even a five-minute scene that tells us more about these prisoners, or T-Dog, or Jacqui (remember her?). The Walking Dead takes the “funny-cause-it’s-not” trope that “the black guy dies” to absurd levels.
We instinctively know that when Tyrese and Sasha appear on the scene, Oscar is not long for this world, and a bullet proves us right. Furthermore, I’d predict that Michonne’s presence on the show (and her role as a central character from the comic-book series and a katana-wielding bad-ass) means that Sasha won’t be around for too long, either. You heard it here first: Once Michonne is more incorporated into the group, Sasha will die soon after (or vice versa).
And much like Oscar going along on the rescue mission, we have to wonder why Michonne would even want to become part of the group. Her treatment upon her arrival at the prison is not so different from what she found at Woodbury. Even after she brings them baby formula, tells them about Glen and Maggie’s capture, and leads them to Woodbury, they still draw weapons on her, refusing to trust her. Why?
Again, in light of how little we know about Michonne, how are we to interpret her treatment except in terms of her race? She is the epitome of the ever-grimacing, often-snarling, monosyllabic angry black woman. She supposedly has a friendship with Andrea, having spent months with her on the road, but Andrea is quick to mistrust her, to abandon her for the promised safety of Woodbury. For Andrea, it seems that despite having been a civil rights attorney in her former life (see, we know something about her), security means a place where a white man is in charge. Michonne knows better, and that makes sense. Having white people with guns in charge wasn’t exactly a safe situation for African Americans before the zombie outbreak, so why would that change afterward? And, of course, Michonne is right, but she is not vindicated or understood. Instead, she moves from one set of dangerous white people to another.
Hell, with a little more self-awareness, The Walking Dead could use its setting to make some real statements about racial politics, but it fails at every turn. Instead, it leaves the audience to interpret the show’s problematic events within a skein of racial understanding that remains unchanged despite the end of the world, unwittingly demonstrating its current pervasiveness in popular culture.