Over seven seasons, The Walking Dead has forced viewers to consider a lot of important questions. What does humanity look like in the face of unspeakable disaster? How do you rebuild a society? How do you maintain your essence as a person when circumstances demand evolution in order to survive? But for all the big themes and ideas they’ve pushed to the forefront, the AMC drama is, at heart, a soap whose pleasures often teeter on the edge of guilty. Sometimes it’s the wobbly characterization (see: Carol, Andrea, Beth, Carl and Dr. Oatmeal). Sometimes it’s the plot points that, even in a series that features hordes of zombies, border on the absurd (I’m looking at you, Season Five). And sometimes it’s just the little things that they will never, ever show us on screen. Here are the mysteries we’re guessing The Walking Dead will never explain.
Is menstruation a thing in the apocalypse? Not only would mopping up blood and dealing with cramps be inconvenient while dealing with the undead, one assumes that eventually all Atlanta-area drug stores would be looted for tampons, leaving survivors to improvise with any matter of leaf, fabric or sponge they could get their hands on. (Note: Do not try this at home.)
Then again, given the extreme conditions survivors are subjected to, coupled with a questionable diet (Negan’s lackeys aren’t the only ones wondering how Alexandra will survive with such an empty pantry), chances are many are simply giving the whole ovulation thing a miss. As noted by Web MD (a hypochondria-inducing resource none of us will mourn in the end times), emotional stress, weight loss, poor nutrition and increased exercise can all result in missed periods. Unless, of course, your name is Maggie Greene, in which case you’re in danger of conceiving a plot-point baby.
We’re only two(ish) years into life post-walker outbreak, and everyone’s artfully distressed capsule wardrobes are starting to look a bit like the sale rack at Urban Outfitters. But what happens when their clothes actively start falling apart? (Do zombie guts stain?) I, for one, welcome the montage in which the curtains of Alexandria are repurposed, Gone With the Wind style. But then what? Are any of these settlements big enough to include a textile factory? You’d better hope a professional seamstress survived—I spent the majority of my adolescence in 4-H (the cool Girl Scouts) and weaving is a handicraft I couldn’t even dream of mastering.
Maybe the clothing thing isn’t the biggest issue facing survivors. (At least until winter—which, as in Game of Thrones, is taking forever to come.) How do they still have enough gas to do regular runs between the Kingdom, The Hilltop and Alexandria—and still have enough left over to garrote a horde of zombies Mad Max-style? I can’t even buy gas during a blackout. I suppose the answer here is Eugene, since he is the show’s de facto character for scientific exposition. But even though he can make a bullet, he can’t change the fact that the team probably doesn’t have the means to drill for oil. (But hey, if he wants to make himself useful and start retrofitting cars to be electric, be our guest.)
Obviously, there can’t be walking dead animals. At the end of the day, this is a TV show—and the only thing likely to upset views more than Glenn taking a bat to the side of the head is watching the family golden retriever take a beating. But why has the virus evolved in such a way that humans are targets, but pigs can eat their fill of the dead and the survivors can hunt without fear of contamination? It’s widely assumed that The Walking Dead world began crumbling due to a virus. In that case, things could change —recent examples being both MERS and SARS. (If you’re interested in the actual science of virus mutation, this episode of Radiolab explains in great detail how the HIV virus jumped from monkey to man.)
How did Alexandria luck out with the (relatively) stable Rick—and Deanna (RIP) before him— while the Kingdom got a man strutting around with a tiger speaking bastardized Elizabethan English and the Saviors got a dude with a baseball bat and a fetish for the royal we? I’m willing to give King Ezekiel a bit of a pass, just as in the wild world of internet dating one must accept eccentricities in one’s leaders in order to survive the apocalypse. And even though his polices seem likely to lead to the demise of his Kingdom, his heart being in the right place has to count for something… right? But I’ll echo Josh Jackson and Shane Ryan’s astute observation: Why hasn’t anyone killed Negan yet? The man wanders into enemy territory, hands Lucille to a man who just watched him use it to bash in the heads of two of his friends, and it occurs to no one that now might be a good time to take him out? What about his own people? Surely someone other than his wives has said, “Yes, we have a sociopathic leader, and yes, he has made sure we haven’t starved to death, but I’m sick of this ‘Girl has no name/we are Negan’ crap.”
We’ve established that walkers can’t swim, climb, or walk any faster than a lurch. So where are all these hordes of undead coming from? Given the square mileage (less than a day’s drive) between all the camps we’ve met so far, one would assume there are more survivors in the area still kicking undead ass—as they have been for the last two years. At this point, even if the vast majority of the population was infected, even if some of the survivors joined their ranks, and even if everyone still alive collectively decided “Screw killing the undead, I’mma take a brief staycation and finally read Gravity’s Rainbow,” that still wouldn’t account for the hordes of zombies that seem to pop up like so many unresolved plot points. (Wanna see some impressive math? Check out Dave Stopera’s thoughts on the matter.) Where are they all coming from? Are the Saviors trucking walkers in by the busload? (If so, I refer you to point three.) Is there some new virus strain that’s allowing the undead to run, jump and climb their way into the metro area with the vigor of a sugared-up pre-teen? We demand answers.
Seriously, in what universe where animated corpses are the norm does anyone choose to say walkers, biters, cold bodies, creeper, dead ones, floaters, geek, lamebrains, lurkers, roamers, rotters? JUST CALL THEM ZOMBIES ALREADY.
The season finale of The Walking Dead airs Sunday, April 2 at 9 p.m. on AMC. Read our episodic reviews here.
Laura Studarus is a Los Angeles-based pop culture writer. She hopes the zombie apocalypse hits when she’s in Iceland.