This article is an interesting read. Worth discussing I think. Symbolism is rife among the zombie genre. Romero used it to great effect with his Dead series. Our gluttonous consumerism, greed, selfishness and sense of self-preservation comes to play during these and other zombie flicks/shows. The Walking Dead apparently is no exception. Kirkman recognizes the undertones of the whole survival affair.
These examples are directly from the article but I have my own thoughts. Love to see what others think as well.
1. Rick plants seeds: Get it? Seeds? He was putting down roots, actual roots, in the hopes of his small seeds sprouting into something bigger: A peaceful civilization behind the prison walls. Hey, Carl even started raising pigs for food. This is going great!
The metaphor of seeds is widely spread throughout literature and does promise new growth, hope and life. Hershel working to get Rick to understand and appreciate that (evident from the flashbacks at the season finale).
2. Rick kills the pigs: Oof. The pigs were part of Rick's grand plan for creating a new, autonomous society. But Rick and friends also discovered one of the drawbacks of close quarters when a virus swept through the prison. Rick blames the pigs, and has to kill them, one at a time, sullenly.Because he is also killing his dream.
Graduates of Mr. Bland's ninth-grade English class at Dodson Junior High — hi, Mr. Bland! — will recall that killing the pig in “Lord of the Flies” represented a descent into savagery. For Rick, it's a little more complicated. The pig-killing is part of a one-step-up, two-steps-back attempt to climb out of savage desperation.
This (and other) point(s) makes me wonder if the author actually watched the show. The pigs are symbolic in the representation of the health of the community. It also is a metaphor for wealth. However when the walkers were "storming the fences" Rick had realized that sacrificing the pigs by wounding them so that they'll draw the walkers away from the fence, giving them enough time to effect repairs or shoring the fence up. Yes, they were likely the cause of the flu but it wasn't THE reason for Rick killing them, only part of the reason.
This likely is a catalyst for Rick's descent back into savagery (remember Tomas). At least he's a (self) controlled savage and still holds on to his morality... to an extent.
3. Rick finds bullets in the garden. Violence will also intrude on domesticity in the world of “The Walking Dead.” This was probably the most subtly effective scene of the season.
This is another point that makes me wonder if the author had watched the show as closely as authors of these types of articles should. After the Governor's (first) attack, is when Rick went full out farmer and was hoeing the ground to plant new seeds. He discovered a GUN (a 1911 .45 cal. The same one that he switched out his Python for at the finale), not bullets. Perhaps there were bullets IN the gun but not apart from them. Or maybe I need to watch it again. But I definitely recall the mud/dirt encrusted gun.
4. Rick shows Carl how to set a trap. This was another case of very nice, effective foreshadowing. Rick shows Carl how to catch a rabbit for meat. Later in the episode, the Terminus gang uses almost exactly the same technique on Rick and Carl, along with almost everyone else in the cast.
Yeah that symbolism wasn't lost on anyone I think. But hopefully it'll teach Carl how to do the same thing with marauders, hunters and groups like Joe's.
5. Rick bites Claimer Joe in the neck. Rick borrows a page of the zombies to protect his son and Michonne. Mr. Bland would have loved this one: Man's inhumanity to man, descent into savagery, the living become the dead, etc. This was the most very heavy-handed symbolism of the season, but it worked.
Thus the infamous comic quote: (spoiler??) "We are the walking dead!"
It goes on to ask what other meaningful symbols the show has represented. I can only think of a couple at this moment but I'm sure others (here) would be able to point out some subtle and glaring points.
Killing Lizzy I think brings Carol full circle with the loss of her daughter Sophia. Her self-percieved idea that she failed to protect Sophia from harm and then with Mika's murder and now executing Lizzy which constitutes another failure on her part as a mother.