Well…things excalated quickly. This week’s The Walking Dead episode has been quite an eventful one, and while no new character has been introduced, there’s an old one we never talked about (I started covering the series from Season 3) who appears. In Bury Me Here, we have Morgan experience quite a trauma, that makes him have some flashbacks about his wife, who’s only mentioned but never seen in the comics, and his son, Duane. The boy only appeared in Season 1, in Days Gone Bye, where he’s the one who finds a delirious Rick and mistakes him for a walker. We left him in his barricaded house, but we learnt that, after some time, he tried to put down his undead mother, but couldn’t do it, with the result of her slaughtering him and turning him into a walker. It’s unknown if Morgan put him down or let him “live” as a walker. In the comics, his story is equally tragic: let’s see together.
Duane Jones was born in Cynthiana, Kentucky, the son of Morgan and Jenny Jones. Duane lived a perfectly normal life, albeit not for long: he attended primary school, he had friends, a nice house, two loving parents…then the world ended when he was still a kid. The Outbreak, the event that released a virus that turned people into ravenous monsters after their death, put an end to everything, With the dead invading the streets and eating people alive, Duane and his family started moving from an abandoned house to the other, never settling for too long in the same place, trying to be safe…but that wasn’t enough, as Jenny was bitten and died from a fever soon after, turning into a walker herself. Duane was alone with his father, and the two of them kept moving in the effort of staying alive. One day, while covering his father who was entering a new house, Duane spotted a walker roaming nearby: he hid himself and hit him in the face with a shovel. Morgan heard the noise and came checking…only to realise that the man Duane had knocked out wasn’t a walker, but a living person. The two Joneses took the man in the house they were staying at the moment, and nurtured him back to health: they learnt his incredible story, as he had just awoken from a coma and found the world upside down; his name was Rick. While Morgan explained to Rick what had happened while he was in the hospital, Duane played with a gameboy his father had found for him, leaving all the talks to the adults. The day after, Rick wanted to move to Atlanta, hoping to find his family, but he wanted to repay his debt to Morgan, so he brought both him and Duane to the police station he used to work in. Once there, Rick took some supplies, and left to the Joneses a car and some guns, wishing them good luck and leaving immediately after. With a car, father and son didn’t have to move in Cynthiana only, and they could find other shelters. Plus, Morgan could now teach Duane how to use a gun, as there would have surely needed it.
Duane travelled with his father in and out Cynthiana, looking for safer shelters in certain times of the year, and coming back to the city when looters or herds had moved away from it; once, around the same time Rick and his group arrived to the prison, they celebrated Christmas together on an unspecified snowy mountain. Duane had learnt how to defend himself in the meanwhile, thanks to Morgan’s teachings…but that wasn’t enough to grant him survival in the post-apocalyptic world. During an unspecified occasion, back in Cynthiana, Duane and his father got separated while fighting a group of walkers, and Duane was bitten and killed by them. Obviously, he reanimated…but Morgan didn’t have the courage to kill him, and clinged to what remained of his son, even if it was just an empty shell. The zombified Duane was chained in the back of the house Morgan lived in, where he would have starved…if it wasn’t for his father. Duane fed on what Morgan brought to him, the first meal being a couple of dogs hanging around the neighborhood, the other something much tastier: humans. Four men, looters, visited Morgan’s house and threatened him, and the man killed them in self defense (or so he said), later giving their bodies to Duane to eat them. Months later, Rick came back to Cynthiana, this time accompanied by his son Carl and his friend Abraham: the trio found a deranged Morgan, as well as the zombified Duane. Rick tried to convince Morgan to kill the monster that now was his son, but didn’t manage to: when Morgan finally agreed to join Rick’s group, he went to the back of the house with his gun, and shot…but not to Duane, rather to the chain that was holding him. Now free to move and to feed on his own, Duane joined the thousands of walkers infesting Cynthiana, a mindless beast among many others like him, just the obscene parody of the boy he was.
Duane Jones is a gentle and sometimes naive boy, a loving son who tries to live his childhood and pre-teen years in a world crumbling down. His self-defense skills are good, but still the ones of a twelve-years old, and he mostly relies on his father’s protection. Now a mindless zombie who only craves for living flesh, Duane’s very existence reminds Morgan of his greatest failure…