Episode 345: A Show of Force

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Zombie Cliche Lookout: A Gentle Reminder

So, why did the convicts shoot up the van in the previous episode? Wasting bullets? Attracting zombies? Possibly; they do seem the reckless type. The actual reason was primarily for intimidation. They were showing everyone that, not only did they have the guns, but also the ammo and the wherewithal to use them. That, of course, had a couple added benefits, primarily making the vehicle unusable and making sure no one was hiding inside (although opening the door probably would have worked just as well).

This is just one of those things bad guys like to do. And it’s not just limited to bad guys in fiction. Real life monsters can use similar tactics. Take the 9/11 hijackers, for instance. To show the passengers how serious they were, they brutally executed someone. It was horrifying and shocking, and helped dissuade people from immediate action. Thankfully, the bad guys in zombie movies tend to be more dramatic, threatening to feed people to the zeds and whatnot.

About this Episode:

Okay, you guys wanted bullet holes, so I gave you bullet holes. With the way they were blasting into the van, I probably should have used a few more, but I didn’t want to get too excessive.

Besides, this van is going to be in the background for a couple more episodes; I don’t want to spend my every waking hour drawing bullet holes all over the thing in Photoshop.

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Discussion Question: Be the Bad Guy

For this scenario, you’re the villain. How do you take control of the situation and remind those wimpy good guys that you’re willing to do all sorts of nasty stuff to get your way? Assume you have the upper hand here.

26 thoughts on “Episode 345: A Show of Force”

  1. After a long absence of illness and whathaveyou, I have returned!

    As for me being an evil villain, please keep in mind that while I have no trouble coming up with ways to hurt people, I have a hard time telling girls I don’t like that I really honestly do not want to date them…

    Anywho, back to the fun stuff: Is there a pregnant woman I can shoot in the belly and leave to die present? Failing that, tossing someone, such as any handy children, to the zombies is always good. Say, throw them off a building, or alternatively apply pointy object to eyes first, smash fingers with hammer, then cut off each individual “packet” of bone fragments (tie the wrists off first so they don’t bleed out obviously), etc, etc.

    Note: It is not enough to do these things, you have to have a good attitude as well. Try to gauge the group, determine what will be most effective at scaring them. For example, say I do the above crippling procedures. I would probably try to maintain a cheerful attitude, perhaps babbling inanely about something else entirely, as if I really don’t care too much about the task at hand.

    “Oh, you know all this raw meat and blood here reminds me of how my dad used to cook his steaks. Damn could that guy grill stuff. You know what the secret to steaks is? A lot of people… hey, could you shut up a minute, I’m trying to talk here… Anyway, what I was saying, guess I’ll have to talk louder, is that a lot of people want to spice it up, but you really just want salt and pepper, nothing else.

    Alrighty then, I think we’re done here. Here, let me help you up. Now this is just like walking a blind man across the street. Watch it, the floor’s slippery. Alright, and we’re at the edge here. Don’t worry, we’re less than a story up, you’ll hardly feel the fall.” *Push*

    “OK, that’s it, get back on your feet. Come on, faster, the zombies are coming! You’ve got one on your right… No, don’t back up… Damn, that was over quickly. Too bad, I was rooting for him too.”

    *Turns back to group*

    “Next time we’ll have to figure some way to keep it going a little longer, that was just too quick for my taste…”

    • If they haven’t figured out I’m bad news by that point…

      • Hah, yeah I definitely got that. Way to take the spirit of the discussion question and run with it!

      • Bob… you have issues. lol

    • Well aren’t you a big ball of fun and rainbows.

      • That he is.

    • Ah, going for the “I’m so evil that I went insane” route. I can respect that answer. It makes you completely unpredictable.

      • That it does, Kim.

    • Heath Ledger as the Joker all the way…

  2. Interesting. Let me say right off the bat that I dont agree with the prisinors actions at this point. This isn’t surprising, most people in prison are there because they have a tendency to make bad decisions and I think that the writing here is consistent with the charachters. Of course they shot Gene, he was armed with a pistol and presented a threat. But they seemed to want to take the rest of the group alive. That implies that they feel that these people might be of some value to them. OK, fine, but then they shoot up the van with the idea that someone might be hiding inside. Three scenarios I can envision where there might have been someone inside the van. 1. Someone who is too weak or sick to be of any help in the situation. 2. The baddest and most heavily armed member of the group being held in reserve in case things get really ugly (in which case he should have deployed when Gene got shot) 3. Someone too valuable to the group to be risked in this action and therefore someone who would have probably been very valuable to the prisoners as well. Not to mention the waste of ammo and a vehicle. So basically shooting up the van was a display of strength and power, but a pointless, stupid, and brutal one. If I have learned anything from history its that mindless brutality only gets you so far when it comes to intimidating people. At some point, people without hope become peop0le without fear and become willing to take any desperate risk to escape what they have come to believe is certain death. Stupid brutality and sadistic violence work to a point because of the shock factor, but after that I think people get desensitized. I much prefer bad guys in the cold, calculating style (Think Hans Grueber in Die Hard) Basically, you are alive because you may have some value to me, if I find that that’s not the case they I will either dispatch you or toss you to the zeds, It would be in your best interest to behave at this point.

    • “So basically shooting up the van was a display of strength and power, but a pointless, stupid, and brutal one.”

      Yes! This exactly.

      • Like I said Dave, their actions are consistent with the characters you are trying to develop. It does make me wonder though, if there is a prisoner we haven’t met yet. I know Stewart only saw 3 in the house and that they are all accounted for outside at the moment, but it seems unlikely that they left their hostages unguarded in the house. (unless they are already dead, which would be pointless from a storytelling point of view) Besides, to me “Smiley” seems more like the “brutal right-hand man” than the “guy in charge”.

        • This is the same group we saw way earlier in the comic. There were three then too. Could there be another, ringleader character? Certainly, but I always think think that’s cheap to introduce surprise characters like that.

        • Point noted for future reference.

  3. In answer to this episodes discussion point,I love THW recent approach with there newest bad guy neegan. Tell them one of them has to die, then eeny meeny miny moe and bang. Shows you don’t care and will randomly kill at will, so don’t cross me.

    On the comic front, I look forward to seeing the bullet holes in precisely the same position every time Dave!!!

    • They aren’t even in the same position from frame to frame here (although I did put a bullet hole in the middle of the 9 every time).

  4. I have a gun, they don’t. I guess it’s shoot someone and force the others to come or they’ll get the same.

    Nurse Rached doesn’t look happy.

    • Short and sweet. Works for me.

  5. I can’t ever see myself as the bad guy in this situation so I have no idea; my thought processes just don’t work like that.
    The closest I can see myself to being one of the bad guys is pretending to be part of their group with the intent of undermining and weakening them from the inside and gathering intel so that the rest of the good guys will have an easier time defeating them later on.

    • That definitely works Darg; I like that approach.

  6. Bob alluded to this above, but how you do things is far more intimidating than what you do. The mark of a good sociopath is the complete lack of emotions. Walk straight up to the leader of the group and calmly, cruelly put a single bullet in their head. Do the same for a poor, defenseless group member (sob, the child?). Then, very quietly suggest what you would like for the group to do next for you. Repeat until you get your way. Only what you want matters.

    • Well said here. I like how cold and methodical this is. There’s no appealing to emotion. You can either give in or fight back. There’s simply no middle ground.

  7. Mind you, bad guys never think they are bad guys.

    If I was the ‘bad’ guy in the situation? Try to recruit them.. Threatening is not the way to gain strength & power.

    • “Mind you, bad guys never think they are bad guys. ”

      This is a really interesting idea, but I think there’s some wiggle room here. I think people often consciously do the wrong thing to get what they want. They know they’re being unethical, but they justify it because the ends make it worthwhile, at least to them.

      I think this merits a separate discussion question. Thank you, sir!

  8. I guess I am wondering what is it they want to do with their captives. Slave labor, sex slaves, could even want to eat them since they are uncontaminated fresh meat rich in protein (BTW are all livestock now zombies too?) If I were needing captives to do evil I think wounding one (ie knee cap them) only creates a burden to deal with and since the hospital is off limits they will probabily die slow from blood poisoning or somthing. Killing one to shock others has immediate effective results but now your down a captive and the others might be too shocked. On the other hand they are kind of used to people they know being eaten. I think on the scale of evil using violence against a weaker person to punish a stronger person for their resistance would be most effective. You keep their strength for being your work horse and they capitulate sooner as they dont want the weaker person to suffer. Mind games. Hmm you need a guide on “How to Induces Stockholm syndrome on captives in a Zombie world”. Fear of unknown brutality always wins. Don’t think these criminal have that level of intelligence – need a ring leader who hasn’t appeared yet to be head MR Evil.

  9. Question:
    I kind of have a bad time casting myself as the bad guy in some ways, since they are often characterised by pointless violence, and while I can see myself using violence, it would only be for a purpose. How to best take control of people with no real RoE? Well, first line them up and evaluate them. Establish dominance through presence first. Figure out who the alpha is, then give him an order. Doesn’t really matter what it is, simply walking somewhere is a good option because the only real reason not to is pure defiance. If they refuse, shoot them in the foot and repeat the order to move. If they still refuse, shoot them in the head. You can’t afford someone that defiant with them. Move on to the next person and repeat. The most important thing, though, is to treat them well if they cooperate. You can only push people so far, and if you keep abusing them even when they obey you, you’ll break them before long and that’s unpredictable. They might just accept everything you say, or they might snap and go berserk. It’s not worth the risk.

    Let’s cast me in the position of the prisoners here, maybe? I would probably still have shot poor Gene there, since he was armed and obviously planning to attack us. Once I had them all disarmed though, I’d let them tend to Gene. Just because I’m a bad guy doesn’t mean I’m a monster. And, practically, Gene is a liability to them at this point. They aren’t going to run away with him wounded. And they are more likely to resist if I make them leave him to die. Bringing him inside and looking after him would keep them too busy to try anything. The only real reason not to let them help him is if one of my men needed medical attention and I didn’t want Barb tending to Gene over him. Even then, she’s more likely to cooperate if I let her look after her friend too.

    One thing remains constant though: warning shots are for the movies; if you try anything funny, we’ll be shooting to kill.