The Walking Dead: Tiptoe through the tulips

Sam and Carol. The Walking Dead. AMC
Sam and Carol. The Walking Dead. AMC /

Innocence lost. Nostalgia. Poetic symbolism. Hypnotic melody. The opening scene of The Walking Dead’s midseason finale had everything.

The opening scene of The Walking Dead’s midseason finale lasted only a short minute or two, but the meaning behind it can be looked at for much longer.

On the surface, it was just a creepy opening. And if that’s all it was designed to be, it succeeded. But this is The Walking Dead!  We can find hidden meaning everywhere. Even if it wasn’t done intentionally.


Cookie ants. The Walking Dead. AMC
Cookie with ants. The Walking Dead. AMC /

Ants are tiny walkers. They are drawn by food. They become little herds that file in toward the prize. They are not distracted by anything in their path. Once they reach food they clump on top of each other and share in the feast. We can’t do anything that will draw them. Poor Sam Anderson left his cookie to draw the tiny walkers in the beginning foreshadowing his voice as the cookie that may draw the big walkers at the end of the episode.

Record Player

Record player. The Walking Dead. AMC
Record player. The Walking Dead. AMC /

Record players remind us of a time long gone. Nostalgia. A more innocent time. Alexandria has been thrown back into this time of innocence. They’ve been fortunate enough to have been protected from the walkers by the quarry. This gave them the illusion of safety.

They started planning civilization prematurely. But even their civilization had a nostalgic feel to it because of the lack of technology. Everything was an illusion, just like nostalgia itself. Nostalgia is all about remembering the positive feelings from the past.

Sam’s Room

Photo Credit: The Walking Dead season 6 trailer/AMC
Photo Credit: The Walking Dead season 6 trailer/AMC /

Sam locking himself in his room is just Sam doing what he’s been taught to do since before the apocalypse. He grew up with an abusive alcoholic father. The way he was taught to deal with it as the youngest sibling was to lock himself in a closet and not come out until it was all over.

When he was in the street and got scared, he hid in the closet of Carol. By holding onto her until it was all over, he made it through that incident. He’s never had to face the monsters. Now all of a sudden at the end of the he’s being forced to come out of the closet before everything  is okay.

Tiptoe Through the Tulips

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When you grow up with an abusive, alcoholic father, you’re used to tiptoe-ing around everything. You want everything to stay pretty. You want a happy family. But you know that one stomp in the wrong place will smash those pretty tulips. One wrong word or action will set off your father and then things won’t be pretty anymore. In order to survive, Sam needed to tiptoe.

The walkers aren’t pretty anymore. They once were beautiful human beings. But something happened to them. One stomp in the wrong place created monsters out of them. And now, the still living beautiful human beings have to tiptoe through fields of monster tulips so they can survive.

Sam’s Drawing

Major Dodson as Sam Anderson, The Walking Dead -- AMC
Major Dodson as Sam Anderson, The Walking Dead — AMC /

“You’ll be outside the walls, far far away, tied to a tree and you’ll scream and scream because you’ll be so afraid, no one will come to help because no one will hear you. The monsters will come… You want to be able to run away and when they come for you, they will tear you up and eat you up while you’re still alive, while you can still feel it. Then afterwards, no one will ever know what happened to you.”

Carol told this to Sam when he saw her stealing guns. Now he’s drawing this scenario. Does he feel helpless? Does he feel afraid? Does he want to tell his mom things but now he’s afraid that will backfire? Carol told him he needs to kill to stop him from becoming a monster. Is that the question he’s going to ask his mom?  What does this drawing tell us?

Great Opening Scene

Taking everything into consideration, this was a fantastic way to open the midseason finale. It was calm and creepy. It had nostalgic music and beautiful imagery. It had foreshadowing and irony. As much as the apocalypse is about survival and violence, the walkers have created a world where surviving means to tiptoe through the tulips with each other.