Walking Dead Season 3: Could Hershel and Milton Have Brought Peace?

Hershel and Milton (AMC's The Walking Dead)
Hershel and Milton (AMC's The Walking Dead) /

When Rick and the Governor negotiated in Walking Dead 313, there was a stalemate. Could things have gone differently under Hershel and Milton?

The Background

Before discussing Hershel and Milton, let’s look at the main episode in question (Arrow on the Doorpost), and why I applaud it for taking risks. Although the Walking Dead is fictional, some stories develop in irresistible ways. They can all but write themselves, as weird as that sounds. Now, I don’t know if the Walking Dead writers experience this phenomenon, but there are signs of it in this episode.

In my view, an extended negotiation scene is risky. There’s no guarantee every viewer will be highly interested, even if it’s well done. Still, I believe the writers felt this episode to be absolutely essential, as a way to explore the characters in-depth, and to show what really motivates them. It’s one thing to have a bunch of action sequences and snarling zombies, but there’s more to a zombie apocalypse than action. Negotiation would most certainly exist!

The Gun Under the Table

Though both men initially disarm, the Governor has a gun taped beneath the table. I’m tempted to say it showcases his villainy, but it may be simpler than that. In fact, it’s something many (if not most) leaders would do under the circumstances. It’s almost a logical extension of having people waiting outside, on standby. Of course, there is the fact that it’s deceitful, and potentially violent. Still, regardless of how wicked the Governor may be, the justifications are there. It’s about options.

What Milton and Hershel Could Have Been

Part One: Skilled, Peace-Seeking Negotiators

This episode shows the strength of Dallas Roberts’ acting, and what could have been of his character Milton. In fact, in a saner alternate Walking Dead reality, the negotiation would have occurred between Milton and Hershel — or people very much like them. Frankly, they were both intellectually and morally superior to the Governor, and even Rick. Why weren’t they the ones to negotiate?

Well, in my estimation, it’s a case of art imitating life. In life, like in soup, the proverbial “scum” often rises to the top. The theory is that, because certain people are more assertive (or downright aggressive) they intimidate and bully others into following them. Unfortunately, this is quite often true, so the intellectual and moral centers of a given group are often not centers at all — they’re more off to the sides.

The bummer is, Milton and Hershel would have most certainly avoided future conflict. Still, a lack of foresight and common sense often plagues society, and we tend to put warmongers in charge and consider peacemakers weak and ineffective (which they are because they’re rarely listened to, like a self-fulfilling prophecy).

Part Two: Checking Out Hershel’s Leg

No, I’m not suggesting Milton was attracted to Hershel — though Hershel jokes about it when Milton asks to see his leg. Instead, I view it as another missed opportunity for the two groups to join together. Yes, I really do believe that, had Milton asserted himself more as a scientific mind, he could have provided inspiration for both groups to cool their jets. It just so happens that, thus far in the series, Hershel’s leg could have been just such an opportunity.

As strange as it sounds, I could imagine Milton urging the Governor — or especially the folks at Woodbury — to consider Hershel’s amputation treatment as a sign of hope against infection. There could have been an expressed need for further examination.  It could have hypothetically led to peace (or at least delayed war)!

Seriously, the urgent need for medical treatment and possible cures could have overridden hostilities. Unfortunately, though, there was no “Milton on a soapbox” moment. No one heard from him about this, or anything much like this. He was relegated to the sidelines. Not to gripe, but it wasted potential for a greater scientific basis of the Walking Dead television universe.

In fact, both Hershel and Milton were under-utilized characters, in a way. Much like in real life, the true potential of our best, most humane and logical thinkers goes unheeded, or  totally unnoticed. It’s still a good episode, but a bit of a shame. Such is life!

Next: Undead Walking is looking for new writers

How about you? Do you think Milton and Hershel could have negotiated a lasting peace? Let us know in the comments!