Hershel delivers perhaps the most instrumental line of the season as he and Rick are trying to pick up the pieces following the massacre on the farm. While I am a huge fan of placing a religious interpretation on anything and everything, here it actually seems applicable and brings light to some intriguing interpretations regarding the source of the zombie epidemic.
The group grew to feel safe and protected on the farm, and the Edenic beauty of the house and land provided a stark contrast to all surrounding areas. However, each member of the group committed some transgression during the time spent there. Whether it was a minor trespass or a full-blown sin, it seems that all of the survivors are guilty of something. Therefore, it is more than a coincidence that the zombie raid occurred when it did, as it draws striking parallels to the expulsion from Eden in the Genesis account. Adam and Eve partake in original sin, so God gets mad and kicks them out. Okay, maybe that explanation is a bit reductive, but it is what it is. On Hershel’s farm, everyone was getting too comfortable – comfortable with the lifestyle, but also comfortable with “sin.” Rick has murdered living men, Lori has committed adultery, they all are turning against each other to some degree or another. They have displeased the supreme force, God or otherwise, and now they must pay for it.
Hershel’s comment also puts a new spin on a Biblical standard. The idea that this is some sort of warped resurrection of the dead aligns the zombie apocalypse with, well, the apocalypse. The dead are roaming the earth, as Christ promised, which is Biblically speaking a sign meant to herald in the end of the world. This leads to a consideration of the book of Revelations. The dead are not scheduled to show up until after Satan has been “released…to deceive the nations” (Rev.20:3, 7-8). It is intriguing to consider if future episodes will pursue this line of thought – will there be (or is there already) a character that can be interpreted as the return of Satan? What has been done to “deceive the nations”? Will the show feature some version of Judgment Day? As I’ve mentioned, I tend to overanalyze on the religious front, but with an apocalyptic show it’s really difficult not to. Nevertheless, the fact that Hershel brought it up at all leaves future and past episodes up for interpretation.