True to its name, AMC’s The Walking Dead is a slow, lumbering beast that should’ve perished long ago. For some this may be a hard pill to swallow. The Walking Dead has always been one of my favorite shows. But you must admit that it is now a shadow of its former self. So what killed our beloved show?
The core of The Walking Dead has always been the dead. When I first watched the show, I was terrified. Still struggling to deal with the new world (dis)order, all of the characters were hopeless against the dead. You never knew when or if someone would die. One zombie was dangerous, two was worse, and a whole horde was impossible to survive. Every moment was a chance for the strong to prevail and the weak to die.
But now the dead are hardly a concern. Sure most of the weak characters have died off. Even so, the initial philosophy of the show was that anyone could die at anytime. One mistake could cost you your life or another’s. The Walking Dead has since strayed fro that line of thought. The main characters like Rick, Carol, Maggie, Michonne, and Daryl are immortal. No matter what happens, we know they will survive. There’s no fear anymore. And when someone actually dies from a walker, it only feels like a cheap trick the writers use when they want someone dead.
The Walking Dead isn’t even about the walking dead anymore. It’s about groups of crazy people fighting each other in a post-apocalyptic world that just so happens to include zombies in it. Viewers first joined The Walking Dead following to see people outwit and outlive an unstoppable army of countless corpses. The series has since strayed from its core concept. As a result, we feel cheated, disappointed, and even bored.
When someone dies, more often than not, we don’t care. First off, the person is almost always a minor character. We know almost nothing about them, and thus have no emotional attachments to them. When they’re gone, we shrug our shoulders and carry on like nothing happened. Sometimes the writers focus a whole episode on a character to create empathy before killing them off. But it’s too little and too late.
Case in point: Denise. Before her final episode, we knew little about Denise. All we knew was that she took over as town doctor and had a romantic relationship with Tara. The writers focused that episode on Denise’s quest to prove herself and her love for Tara by getting her orange soda. We get a glimpse of Denise’s personality only for her to be unceremoniously shot in the head during a serious speech. As surprising as the death was, I didn’t care. Until that episode, I had no connection with Denise. She was just another disposable person.
As for the death of major characters, The Walking Dead teases us all the time but never follows through. Glenn appeared to die when he and Nicholas fell into a group of walkers. For any other character, that should’ve been it. Heck, they even showed Glenn screaming as walkers appeared to rip out his entrails. But we come to find out that Glenn is alive and it was only Nicholas getting ripped apart.
A similar thing happened to Rick when he and Michonne explored an abandoned carnival. Rick fell off a ride into a crowd of dead. The fall alone could’ve killed him, but with all the zombies there to catch and kill him, Rick never could’ve survived. But he did. How can we ever take events like this seriously when we know the protagonists will survive anyways? Follow through or don’t tease any deaths at all.
Worse though, The Walking Dead treats the death of main characters as a joke. After Glenn incredibly survives a tumble into a zombie horde, he is killed just a few episodes later. First Negan bashes Abraham over the head. We deal with the trauma of that situation. Then in a random and unnecessary move, Negan kills Glenn as well. The manner of death is satisfyingly gruesome, but the death itself is a cruel prank after Glenn’s death was so recently teased.
If you’ve watched the series from start to finish, you should have noticed a trend by now. Every story arc is the same: the group runs from zombies, finds a safe place to stay, the safe place is destroyed by bad people, they kill the bad people, they run from zombies, and find another safe place to stay. First they stayed at Hershel’s farm, then at the prison, then at Alexandria, and now it seems Hilltop is the place to be.
By now we’ve learned that there is no safe place to stay. So how the hell do you end the series? Either everyone dies or you continue moving from place to place, again and again, losing people along the way. The Walking Dead has written itself into an endless cycle.
But seriously, how do you end the show? The most important thing is that the show end, and soon. There’s nothing worse than seeing your favorite show die a long, slow death. Right now, that’s where The Walking Dead is headed.
The only reason I still watch the show is Negan. Negan is THE antagonist of The Walking Dead. He is the Thanos to the Avengers, the Joker to the Batman. And Jeffrey Dean Morgan is the perfect casting pick. He provides the right amount of grit and charisma that a character like Negan demands. So at the moment, Negan is the beating heart of the show.
But dear God, when Negan is killed or defeated, end it. Some lady named Georgie just gave Maggie a manual to rebuild society with medieval technology. In my opinion, this is a chance to leave the show on a final happy note. It is a chance to progress beyond the apocalypse and return to normal life. Once Negan is dealt with, show the people of Hilltop smiling as they construct a new windmill. Show them flourishing from the wealth of their new technology. Then end it.
I want to look back fondly on this show. Fear the Walking Dead can be your new cash cow. Reviews for the last season were positive, and the next season is looking to be another great one. So please, don’t beat the dead horse.