'The Walking Dead' Examines Faith in Zombie-Infested World

AMC's hit television series “The Walking Dead” deals as much with human nature as it does zombies, and in season two the show tackles issues of faith in a world that seems hopelessly lost.

At the end of season one, a band of people who have frequently survived attacks from both the undead and their own tempers are left devastated when the Center for Disease Control, which they traveled to in hopes that scientists had found a cure for the zombie virus, went up in flames.

In the opening scene of season two, in an episode called “What Lies Ahead?” Sheriff Rick Grimes (played by Andrew Lincoln) is seen talking into a hand-held radio with the hopes that a friend he left behind, Morgan (Lennie James), will hear him. He talks about how it was difficult to keep the others in his caravan safe, and how the CDC was a “dead end” and they are planning to travel to a military base 125 miles away to try and find help.

“We're facing a long, hard journey ... That's what lies ahead, and I'm trying hard not to lose faith. I can't, if I do the others – my family, my wife, my son ... there's just a few of us now,” says Rick, revealing thoughts in fragments. “So we've got to stick together.”

The faith of his group's members is further tested when Sophia (Madison Lintz), the young daughter of Carol (Melissa McBride), is chased through the woods by a zombie and as a result becomes disconnected from the group. They don't find Sophia's body, however, giving them hope that she is still alive.

At one point, while the group searches for the girl, they hear church bells ringing in the distance. They follow the sound and find a small Southern Baptist Church, where they hope to also find Sophie. On the church's sign is a Bible reference, Revelation 16:17, which in the New International Version 1984 reads, “The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, 'It is done!'”

When they arrive at the church Sophie is nowhere to be found. Instead they find that the church bells were set on a timer, and inside the building are a handful of zombies still sitting in the pews. As the zombies attack, and they are struck down by the men in the group, a crucifix stands clearly in the background.

Carol, overwhelmed that they still hadn't found her daughter, prays in front of the likeness of Jesus on the cross, asking God to forgive her for wishing death upon her abusive husband (who was bitten and killed in season one). She feels like Sophie's loss is God's judgment on her for thinking such a thing.

Before the group leaves the church, Rick also prays and asks God for a sign that he is leading the group in the right direction, but what he gets isn't what he expected. At the end of the episode his son, Carl (Chandler Riggs), is shot by a hunter when Carl gets too close to a deer that was being eyed by a hunter looking to kill it for food.

Fortunately, in the next episode, viewers found out the hunter lives on a farm owned by an old veterinarian named Herschel (Scott Wilson), who was able to treat Carl and save his life. The rest of the group joins their new acquaintances on the farm, which has been relatively untouched by zombies, and are given some time to plan their next move and continue their search for Sophie.

In the most recent episode, “Cherokee Rose,” things settle down a little on the farm and Herschel, an openly religious man, talks with Rick about the area's geography and where Sophie may have gone. During their conversation, Herschel tells Rick to take a moment to admire the wilderness – some mountains, fir trees and a winding river – which can be seen from their vantage point.

“It's good to pause for an occasional reminder,” says Herschel.

“Of what?” replies Rick, who has grown increasingly pessimistic up to this point.

“Whatever comes to mind. For me it's often God.” He looks at Rick after a moment and says, “No thoughts on that?”

"Last time I asked for a favor ... my son got shot,” he said in reply. “I try not to mix it up with the Almighty anymore. Best we stay out of each other’s way."

Herschel tells him that Rick's wife Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) shared Rick's story during their time on the farm, and tries to show him he has been blessed even though it may not seem like it. Rick was shot in the line of duty, went into a coma, woke up from the coma to find himself surrounded by zombies, found his wife and child against all odds and Carl, though hurt, survived a gunshot as well.

“That tells you nothing?” asks Herschell.

“It tells me God's got a strange sense of humor,” Rick says, before he walks away.

According to TV by the Numbers, The Walking Dead was the second most-viewed basic cable show with 6.3 million viewers for the week ending on Nov. 6, coming second only to Monday Night Football on ESPN. The show was also recently nominated for a 2012 People's Choice Award for Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy Show.

It is still unclear just how far the show will take the theme of religion and faith, as there are several loose ends in the story that could take it in any number of directions, although taking a closer look at faith would certainly be appropriate, considering the circumstance the characters find themselves in.

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