Don't Be Too Hard on Dawn Lerner

If you, like my roommate, watched The Walking Dead for the first time last week, I apologize. It was a completely different show. Not that the AMC series hasn't done episodes that depart from the formula before. But most of this episode was low on Walkers and high on florescent light. The only regular character was Beth, until Carol showed up in Grady Memorial Hospital at the end. However, we were finally introduced to Officer Lerner, an original character and a very scary lady. She runs things at the hospital and takes out her frustrations by slapping the nearest human being. Is Dawn Lerner pure evil? I'm not sure.

It would be easy to dismiss her as such because, you know, indentured servitude. If you remember from history class, this practice is really just slavery with a fresh coat of paint. Also, knowingly beating Noah for Beth's crimes reminds me of the old practice of having a "whipping boy" to punish instead of your own child. It's all just gross and backwards over there at Grady Memorial.

However, at least Dawn is coming to us with a strong point of view. She is very firm in her belief and her system. My inner philosophy student was downright gleeful when Beth Green and Dawn basically started debating Utilitarianism versus Nihilism. Dawn believes she is doing what she does for the greater good. Beth believes that none of it matters. Is Dawn evil, or is she delusional to the point of moral depravity? As Sondheim's musical Into the Woods taught me at a young age, "nice is different than good." Dawn Lerner is certainly not nice. However, there may be some good in her yet.

She is loyal

To her detriment. Dawn Lerner defended Officer Gorman who tried to rape Beth. That was deplorable. That was not cool. However, she seems to find comfort in traditions and a sense of community or brotherhood. Is that manifesting in a twisted way? Yes. But it isn't the worst quality to have. If a lawless world has forced her to fall back onto the problematic pieces of the world that she knows best, that is at the very least understandable. She is a product of a system just as much as her "wards" are. However, the system she's in started well before the Walker outbreak.

She cares about saving lives

Again, to her character's detriment. She genuinely cares about saving the lives that come into her hospital, even if those lives become her property. That's something. She has Doctor Edwards amputate Joan's arm rather than let her die, as punishment for trying to escape the hospital. I personally wasn't too invested in that, because Joan's actress Keisha Castle-Hughes is going to Game of Thrones . However, I must say that I was impressed with how resourceful Beth was with Joan and Gorman later on.

She is seriously delusional

This is the number one reason that I think there could be hope for Dawn Lerner. She is so bent on being rescued that it has warped her entire being. If her tunnel vision broke, she might be able to see the error of her ways.

Remember a few episodes ago, when Rick Grimes was adorably baffled by Father Gabriel's assumed innocence in the entire apocalypse? Rick kept insisting that even if Gabriel never killed a Walker or a human by his own hands, he must have done something because they all had. This is what Dawn Lerner has done. And se's not eating people, so that's a plus as well.

Images: Gene Page(4)/AMC