The most recent episode of “The Walking Dead,” “Something They Need” featured an operation conducted by Rick and his friends to prepare for the final assault on Negan and the Saviors. Fans of the show are debating the ethics of what happened. Some spoilers follow.

The Oceanside community consists of women and girls whose men have been slaughtered by various dangers in the zombie apocalypse world, especially Negan’s saviors. The all-female community thinks that isolation and an arsenal which, inexplicably, they keep under Lock And Key will keep them safe.

Rick and a force of fighters disabuse them of this notion with a quick, well executed pyrotechnic display that herds the Oceansiders into a confined space so that they can be captured without firing a shot. Then they drive the lesson home by fighting off an attack by mainly gross zombies who come out of the ocean, covered in kelp with barnacles attached to them, attracted by the explosions. At no time do the Oceansiders break out their weapons to fight off anyone.

Rick announces that they are taking the Oceansider guns to fight Negan.

The women are invited to join in on the coming war of liberation. The community’s leader argues against it, believing that any effort against Negan is bound to fail. Some of the women at Oceanside are reevaluating the strategy of cowering in fear, however.

Some have argued that Rick and his people are acting unethically by taking the guns and leaving Oceanside defenseless. But it can be argued that the community, for all of its firearms, was defenseless anyway.

Weapons that are kept under lock and key are pretty much useless in the zombie apocalypse world. They need to be in the hands of alert sentries who can sound an alarm and start fighting until the rest of the community is alerted and can stand to arms. Oceanside’s attitude toward guns was that having them was enough without being prepared to use them.

In effect, Rick and his people were doing Oceanside a favor by forcing the community to confront the vulnerability of their situation.

Had Negan and the Saviors had shown up, they would not have been as gentle. Rick’s group has given the Oceanside people a chance to create a world without Negan, with communities bound together in mutual self-defense. No other option exists besides death and eventual submission to Negan.

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