'The Walking Dead' Didn't Need This Rape Plot

It's probably kind of strange to gripe about The Walking Dead going too far with anything. This is a show that has surpassed every gory boundary conceivable and then some. Hell, two weeks ago, we watched the most handsome evil cannibal to ever hit television (damn you, Andrew J. West) munch on Bob's leg. But blood and machete-style violence is kind of what we signed up for here. What we didn't sign up for is excessive sexual violence like the Grady Hospital officer who rapes patients/indentured servants.

Sure, we finally found where Beth has been this whole time, but at a price. And personally, I'm kind of sick of seeing that price being set at sexual violence against women. Yes, sexual violence against women is a thing that happens in real life, and it make sense that the villains in The Walking Dead universe would sometimes commit on of the worst sins imaginable, but there are humans writing these stories. We don't have to go there.

For those who missed the signs, Beth leads us through her new prison: Grady Memorial Hospital, where Officer Dawn Lerner is running a ship built on servitude (Beth and her co-inmates must work to pay off the debt of being saved, but food adds to the debt, and without food they can't work off the debt). Dawn's second in command is a leering, awful police officer who's basically a pillar of human slime from the moment he steps onscreen. When a nurse whom this officer calls "his" is bitten by a walker, she'd rather die than have her arm cut off for the chance to live. When Beth asks what happened to her, the nurse says it doesn't matter. It's not totally plain to see, but it seems that Officer Creepy has been adding non-consensual sexual activity to the nurse's workload.

The officer's sexual deviance is basically confirmed when he forces a lollipop into Beth's mouth in a blatantly sexual motion and later flat out tells her he's going to have sex with her as he begins to force himself on her.

And while this all added drama and intrigue to a somewhat boring episode full of characters we had almost no information about — it does seem that the douchebag might have helped create a level of jealousy in Dawn that leads her to make Beth's life awful — but it wasn't really necessary. There doesn't need to be a rape plot to establish jealousy between the two women (not that I love a jealousy plot either). There doesn't need to be a rape plot to make Dawn irrational or unreasonable. She can be that way all on her own.

Plus, there are a million other ways the problems in this hospital could have manifested themselves, and yet, here we are, with a salacious non-consent plot that could have just as easily been ripped from Law & Order: SVU. I know that life as a Walking Dead fan is a life occasional crushing disappointment, but after last season's questionable moment with Carl and his attacker, I was hoping The Walking Dead had cleansed its hands of unnecessary sexual violence. Apparently, I was wrong.

Image: Gene Page/AMC (2)