Their love for each other is matched only by their drive to survive. While both Lori and Carl lack the survival, weapons and hunting training of those around them, they remain locked in a fierce battle against the zombiepocalypse to protect that which matters most—the human family.
Who are Lori and Carl Grimes? They are characters from The Walking Dead—a series of graphic novels by Robert Kirkman turned into one of the world’s hottest cable television shows by AMC and an insanely talented production crew. They have created cast of characters I have expressed a great deal of love for:
- the tormented former lawman Shane Walsh,
- a squirrel-tossing badass Daryl Dixon,
- the honorable Glenn,
- an elder statesman, Dale,
- a woman on the hunt, Andrea,
- the man with a mission, former lawman Rick Grimes,
- the odd couple, Merle Dixon and Theodore “T-Dog” Douglas,
- a nurturing mother with a survivor’s heart, Carol Peletier, and
- the hardy farming family of Hershel and Maggie Greene.
Lori and Carl are the core of a family unit traumatized by the realities of a zombified world, wife and son to a man tasked by circumstance with leading a soul-weary band of survivors through the horrors as safely as he can. Lori is determined to protect her child at any cost, but may not have the kind of constitution to survive a prolonged zombie onslaught, and all the emotional baggage it carries with it. Carl finds himself literally growing up in the zombiepocalypse, traversing his developmental years to the background of flying body parts and weapons instruction.
[***WARNING: Spoilers ahead***]
Lori and Carl are tasked with protecting humanity’s most valuable asset—the family. While water, food and ammunition are integral to physical survival, the presence of loved ones bound by blood and affection grounds and lifts the spirit. The Grimes family is not the only familial unit in and around the main survivor group, but with Rick Grimes as the survivor band’s leader, the Grimes clan is—whether they like it or not—the “first family” of the zombiepocalypse.
Ever since viewers first met Lori—played by Sarah Wayne Callies—she has been coping with severe emotional trauma and struggling to balance her own needs with what she believes to be right and/or necessary. Lori is not a bad woman. She is a good mother, who loves her child and would, I have no doubt, die to protect him. She is loyal, …yes, loyal, and will stick behind those she loves when she believes them to be right.
But Lori is struggling to manage the consequences of choices she’s made—sometimes she’s wrong for the right reasons, other times she’s right for the wrong ones. I mean, let’s be real here, she believed her husband was dead. Shane helped her and Carl survive, was someone she trusted and could feel safe with in the midst of a world gone mad. Taking a lover when surrounded by nothing but death is a good way to remind yourself that you are indeed alive.
She has been coping with the guilt of her decision to enter a sexual relationship with Shane ever since Rick returned from the dead…and all of the other complications that accompany it. She’s angry and hurt. Yes, Shane may have believed Rick was dead, but he wasn’t…and so Shane (who is just not helping his own case) is the target for all the mixed-up rage, guilt and fear that Lori harbors.
Lori is Rick’s rock, his most vocal defender after Shane. And where Shane, Rick’s best friend, will argue with him to get to a decision that creates more pent-up frustration between the two buddies, Lori is most-often content to back Rick’s decisions even if she doesn’t like them because she know his heart is true. But I do have to wonder if this isn’t part of the reason she was doubting their marriage before the zombiepocalypse hit…just sayin’. Lori is quick to point out to others when they are being selfish or projecting their own emotions onto Rick who—as she rightly points—continues to do for the group what no other would. I just wish she could so readily take stock of her own interactions and self-correct when she is projecting.
Carl—brought to life by Chandler Riggs—is growing up before viewers’ eyes. Between season one and the trauma of season two the young man has evolved from a whimpering, fearful child into an eager, increasingly capable young man. Carl wants to emulate what he sees both Rick and Shane doing to save everyone and make a tangible contribution to the group’s survival. He throws himself with great passion into learning the skill he will need—how to properly catch and clean fish, set up an alarm system around camp…fire a gun.
He is still a child, clinging to the pure hope and innate optimism that most youngsters have, but there is little doubt Carl is determined to become a zombie hunter extraordinaire. ..even if he does not yet truly understand the emotional consequences of such an undertaking.
Both Lori and Carl face serious emotional and physical challenges ahead. Lori is aware of hers, and we see her struggling to find a balance between protecting the family members she has, and adding to the mix with a baby. Carl, despite everything he has seen and experienced, is likely to encounter a crisis of conscience or two as strives to become the man he thinks he should be.
But can they survive? Can they keep the Grimes family unit together and alive? One thing is for sure…they will fight to the death to make it happen.
With special thanks to R.C. Murphy