I want to come back to the mortuary geography of the fictional post-apocalyptic world of The Walking Dead, considering the burial of a community leader. In a previous post, I discussed how the ‘wild’ – the woods – are perceived as the zone of the undead and those ‘excommunicated’ from the community: killers.
Deanna’s death takes a different dimension. Deanna was the leader of Alexandria, yet in the chaos of Alexandria’s undead invasion, on the back of the attack by The Wolves, Deanna is bitten. She is given an option to kill herself but instead, in defiance, she uses up the bullets killing the infected and her fate left is uncertain.
Spencer, her son, goes out afterwards into the woods, seeking her. He finds her together with Michonne and they ‘put her down’, burying her rather than burning her. Signifcantly, they inter her in the wild, rather than bringing her back for burial in Alexandria. They mark her grave with a ‘D’ carved on a nearby tree trunk. So a tree becomes her memorial, and the woods her grave.
Deanna’s death is both outside and inside the community of Alexandria. Her name also remains painted on the memorial wall inside, and facing into, but on the edge of, the walled community.
Deanna holds a powerful but liminal place in death: a loved one who becomes the undead. She therefore doesn’t get interred in the community cemetery, but is despatched and interred as one of its members and her name remains honoured by the living.
In short, Deanna’s death and burial holds a very special place in the simple stark burial geography of the fictional TV show.