As my fourth post regarding the AMC television show The Walking Dead season 9, I wish to reflect briefly on Alexandria’s cemetery. Time has moved on and the graves that comprised the focus of mourning and commemoration in Season 8 have been transformed (see also a discussion of this cemetery in Season 6).
While at Hilltop the graves are marked by kerbs and small mounds of pebbles, Alexandria has replaced its wooden markers with a lawn cemetery.
In this scenario, with wooden markers removed and no stones replacing them, it is offerings of flowers and the placing of personal effects that denote individual graves. In one brief close-up, we see a pair of boots on one grave, a trophy, a figurine and a lantern on others.
This is also undifferentiated, as well as counter-monumental, cemetery space. This si because there are no paths, benches or borders. Indeed, following the Saviour’s attack, both the houses and the graves might have been destroyed: the new Alexandria appears much more open and spacious.
Although not forgotten, the inhumed dead are being subsumed into the settlement space but brought to mind through personal items, akin to the fashion that they were hung from crosses at the Prison and other locations where Rick’s group resided.
Once more, the show pays careful attention to creating a distinctive post-apocalyptic mortuary culture for the communities, with inhumation valorised but being shown to take different manifestations between communities and evolving over time. This is a revealing and fascinating example of the popular culture of mortuary practice and commemoration, speculating about what choices might be made following the collapse of a consumer society and its attendant funerary industry. We are shown an imagined ‘return’ to a more simple, modest, quiet dignity in death without gawdy displays: a frontier society with burial close to dwellings.