The Walking Dead
6) Pamela Milton
Call me a cynic, but I’ve always had a certain level of contempt for politicians. Generally, I don’t trust them because, so often, I can tell when they’re lying, hear the attempts to manipulate the public, and see the moments when they’re screwing us over. The worst, though, is the specific politicians that I’ve come to realize are so self-serving, so downright Machiavellian, that they will do or say anything to achieve power, even if it’s demonstrably contradictory to things they’ve already said or done, even in the recent past.
Because of the nature of the world in which The Walking Dead exists, we’d never really seen much in the way of politicians in the show. We had The Governor sort of acting as one, but he wasn’t an actual politician. There was Deanna, a congresswoman who was placed in charge of Alexandria, but, with the nature of how Alexandria was established — Basically cobbled together by the army with little political infrastructure to speak of, with little in the way of population, and in the middle of the zombie outbreak — Deanna had to buckle down and do the hard work of making the community run properly. So, realistically, Pamela is the only actual politician playing political games that we’ve seen in The Walking Dead, and you want to know something? If Pamela is any indication of what a politician would be like in an actual zombie apocalypse, they would be among the biggest scumbags you’d ever see in it.
When we first meet Pamela, she comes off as quite nice, happily administering her community, trying to make things as normal for her citizens as possible, and providing a safe haven for survivors weary of life in the wilderness.
However, as the season progressed and we spent more time in the Commonwealth, we began to see that things weren’t all they were cracked up to be. The outburst by former trooper Tyler Davis made it evident that some people were below the radar of the Commonwealth’s beloved leader, and their concerns fell through the cracks.
For a minute, it seemed like these were the worst of Pamela’s flaws, as she spent much of the second part of the season overshadowed by the machinations of her Director of Operations, Lance Hornsby, which, conveniently seemed to confirm the idea that some things simply passed beneath her gaze.
But there was just something off. When Connie ran an article accusing Pamela’s son, Sebastian, of trying to organize a heist that got a dozen Commonwealth citizens killed, she made a radio address, saying that whoever was behind the heist would be brought to justice, but also said that people responsible for the “vicious lies” against her son would be brought to justice. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like punishing legitimate whistleblowers for informing the public of shady things powerful people have done. That doesn’t sound very benevolent to me…
Things would seem even less benevolent as time wore on. While talking to Max, Sebastian revealed that everything about the Commonwealth, the ideals it promoted, the “opportunities” it gave, all of it, was phony, an illusion crafted by his mother to keep her and her cronies in money and power. Hell, even the community’s lottery was rigged by Pamela.
As bad as these things were, though, the worst was yet to come, as the death of Sebastian pulled back the veneer completely, revealing just how adept of a politician she was and how little she really cared about her constituents.
I don’t even know where to begin here. I suppose I’ll start with the most recent and work my way backward because I think the further back we go, the more repugnant the picture actually becomes.
Firstly, as a massive horde of smart walkers converges on the rich district of the community, a crowd of ordinary civilians arrives at the gates, demanding to be let inside to shelter themselves from the oncoming wave of the dead. Pamela refused. Of course, this makes perfect sense, as she had previously ordered the troopers to funnel the dead into the poorer parts of the Commonwealth as a means of distracting them (Did she not realize that that strategy would have created more walkers?).
Of course, that wouldn’t have been needed had she not instructed the troopers to lure the herd into the Commonwealth as an excuse to initiate a lockdown specifically to cause the heat building up against her to cool down. That would not have happened had her government not attempted to use Eugene as a scapegoat for Sebastian’s death, including getting up on the stand with crocodile tears in her eyes, claiming that Eugene had somehow altered the recording of Sebastian laying bare just how corrupt his mother’s system had been!
Now, the reason I did this in reverse chronological order is that each layer you pull back reveals just how much worse the thing that succeeded was. She not only didn’t give a rat’s ass about the Commonwealth citizens but actively ordered the troopers to lure the walkers into the community and funnel them into the poorer parts of town. If this weren’t bad enough, these were walkers she had lured into the city to make the citizens forget about why they were angry at her in the first place! …I guess she would have seen it as “killing two birds with one stone”.
Then, there was her lie. While under questioning by Yumiko, Pamela brazenly lied to everyone in the Commonwealth (Be it live or over the radio), claiming Eugene did something which he simply didn’t have the means to do.
Why do this, though? When it was so obviously a lie? And why does it bother me so much?
Because what Pamela’s lie demonstrated was her belief that A) People would believe her, B) Even if they didn’t, it wouldn’t matter because she was going to get away with it, regardless, because she was in charge and could do whatever she wanted. This is what makes Pamela so despicable, the fact that she believed because she was the governor of the Commonwealth, and the daughter of the president of the United States, that she was entitled to do whatever she wanted and that everyone was, come Hell or high water, going to bend to her will.
That is why she wanted to railroad Eugene, to send a message to the rest of the Commonwealth about what would happen to those who challenged her. That is why she manufactured the walker attacks (By literally having the herds led to the Commonwealth’s gates), to force the public into doing what she told them. And that is why, when her plan blew up in her face, she insisted the herd be funneled to the lower wards to teach the people who lived there a lesson, to punish them for failing to know their place.
A wise man once said: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The governorship of the Commonwealth was a position of absolute power, and Pamela was corrupt. Absolutely.