Death is everywhere. Lurking around every corner, through every door, and down every stairwell, it is seen, heard, felt, smelled, and even tasted—it is inside everyone. The Grimes Gang has been put through the wringer (to put it ever so delicately), and somehow they’re always kicked when they’re already down. But, as they run through the tunnel of murky darkness of uncertainty and despair, and decay of a life that once was and hopelessness of ever returning to it, a glimmer of light, born through death itself, is there to greet them—a baby—a baby? A baby! The baby.
I’m going to take a leap of faith here and refer to the li’l whipper snapper as Baby Grimes, because, well, as Lori told Shane in season 2′s “Pretty Much Dead Already,” “Even if it’s yours it’s not going to be yours.” So, until DNA is submitted to Maury Povich for testing and the baby is scientifically proven to be a Grimes or a Walsh, Rick, you are the father.
Baby-daddy conflict aside, this child certainly has the cards stacked against her. She was conceived during an outbreak of an unknown infectious disease that turns dead human beings into fiends whose only mission is to eat you, aka the zombie apocalypse. The Four Horsemen could have rode into town, but her parents clearly weren’t thinking about that. After nature took its course and Lori discovered she was with child, she panicked and tried to terminate the pregnancy by popping and then spitting out a handful of morning-after pills. By that time, Baby Grimes was already locked and loaded, and was impervious to the effects of such drugs. Over the next several months, the unborn baby’s host was subjected to daily emotional and physical stress, and possible (more like probable) malnutrition, which, in a normal, walker-free environment, would be grounds for miscarriage. Combined with a lack of prenatal medical care—sorry, Hershel, your offscreen examinations just didn’t cut the mustard; Carol’s postmortem version of the game Operation was entertaining, but, alas—this kid’s chances of survival weren’t looking so good. But, Baby Grimes somehow managed to endure—to survive—just like her parents, her brother, and the family she was about to be born into.
In near darkness, on the floor of a boiler room in a prison, with death shuffling past the unlocked door, sparing those behind it, Baby Grimes was born shortly after her mother drew her last breath. Lori’s hope for her children, and the strength and fearlessness she showed as she lay dying were passed on to her daughter. A symbol of love, hope, purity, forgiveness, and strength, Baby Grimes represents everything the group needs so they don’t lose sight of what it means to be human—living, civilized, good people. Although she is also the group’s greatest obstacle, she is meant to be.
Emerging from death, surrounded by death, the baby not only survived her environment, but appears to have thrived in it. The cherub-like infant seems to be healthy, and after crying for only what seemed like a moment, she was quiet as the walkers passed by—it’s almost like she knew to make herself invisible. Sadly, she was also invisible to the one person who should have embraced her—Rick. He was naturally and understandably overcome by the grief of losing Lori, but he didn’t even acknowledge his new daughter. He had some other matters to attend to. Mr. Grimes, you have a telephone call at the front desk.
Like Lori, Rick probably had a different vision for the birth of this child. He and the group had been through so much and worked so hard to move into and to secure the prison so Lori could have as comfortable—and safe—of a delivery as possible. Since the day he met the group on the rooftop in Atlanta, he took responsibility for their safety, often putting himself and his own family at risk. Although their relationship was extremely strained, the prison was Rick’s chance to prove to Lori that he had his family’s best interest in mind—and to escape the ghost of Shane by starting fresh with a clean slate. The baby was going to help them repair their marriage. However, Rick’s decision to let Andrew test his luck with the walkers ultimately led to the group’s safety being compromised, including T-Dog’s death and Carol’s disappearance—but was it really to blame for Lori’s death? Rick seemed to think so. Lori could have hemorrhaged to death while sitting on a lawn chair, drinking a glass of lemonade, watching Carl throw rocks at the walkers on the fence, and the outcome could have been the same. Regardless, Lori is dead, along with Rick’s hope for a fresh start and a chance of returning to normalcy. From that perspective, how could he possibly deal with a newborn, much less come to terms with the fact that she even exists?
Deny it. Immerse yourself in guilt, and have telephone conversations with dead people. Check on your son and the rest of the group, but completely ignore your daughter…until you speak with your dead wife on the phone and realize that you need to get off the phone, deal with your issues instead of running from them, and hold your daughter for the first time. Perhaps Rick needs this baby as much as she needs him. He might secretly question whether she is biologically his, but one thing he knows is that beyond a shadow of a doubt, Lori was her mother—and part of her will live through their daughter. Now that Rick can accept Lori’s death and has closure, can he now see the light at the end of the tunnel? Is his hope restored? Can this kid finally be named?!
Naturally, raising a child in this environment will be challenging. Hell, raising a child in a pre-apocalyptic environment can be difficult. It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child—this couldn’t be any truer for Baby Grimes. So many challenges already face the group—how will they deal with the added stress of raising and protecting a baby? During Rick’s literal parental leave, the group embraced the baby, and without reluctance, complaint, or even a sigh, Daryl and Maggie immediately left to search for formula. The group has been as selfless in caring for the baby as Rick has been in leading them.
Although the baby has found her way into the hearts of the Grimes Gang, it appears that Daryl in particular has a real soft spot for her. Upon returning from the daycare center, Daryl, of all people, held the baby and soothed her as her first bottle was prepared. He was the first to feed her. He was the first to discuss naming her. He was the first to really bond with her. It’s clear that he truly cares for this baby. Is she the new hope for Daryl? Is she his second chance? Is she another child for him to protect? Is she the one he won’t fail? Will she give him a chance to forgive himself? When will he take the baby on her first squirrel hunt? I hear he’s working on a papoose.
What kind of life will Baby Grimes have? This new world that the survivors hope is temporary could be the only world she ever knows. If she lives to see at least her 5th birthday, will she have grown to be a soulless, cold, killing machine? Will she ever have a chance to be a kid? Will she ever have the chance to experience the life her brother did? Will she ever have the chance to be happy?
The Grimes Gang is determined to return to a life that is as close to normal as possible. Most people wouldn’t be too pleased with the term “life in prison” describing their lives, but since fleeing Hershel’s farm, and being on the run for several months, the prospect of the safety and security of a prison sounds pretty damn good. Every new home can use a good cleaning, and the prison is no different—once the walkers are eliminated, the group can begin its renaissance…with the sound of a baby’s laughter echoing throughout. Normal. Happy. Safe. Death may be everywhere, but so is life—and it always goes on.
Even with the Governor just around the corner.
Will Baby Grimes survive this season?