‘The Walking Dead’ isn’t what it used to be



Opinion: Since the pendulum swing around season 6/7, ‘The Walking Dead’ just hasn’t been the same.

Don’t get me wrong, I have been with The Walking Dead since that Halloween night in 2010 and loved almost every second of it. I consistently argued that this show was the greatest show on cable television maybe ever, and critics agreed! I appreciated when the walkers stopped being the sole focus of the plot and it veered toward the characters and their development and relationships.

The pendulum swing of TWD sucking began with the Season 6 finale/Season 7 premiere when our beloved (*sniff*) Abraham and Glenn left us. Not that us comic-junkies weren’t expecting it, but… waiting six months to reveal who it is? It’s a great cliffhanger, and I admit to being disappointed that they deviated from canon to kill Abraham, but swiftly turning morbidly giddy when Glenn’s head became brain-guacamole.

The introduction of Negan is not necessarily what I’m talking about when I mention the pendulum swing. Though the Governor will always hold a near and dear place in my heart, Negan is the ultimate badass of TWD. However, in my humbly honest opinion, Robert Kirkman milked that storyline a little too much. (Two seasons, really?)

Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s portrayal of our favorite slugger-wielding murderer is a saving grace. He has Eugene-level one-liners that always make me smile or chuckle, and JDM definitely upped the ante when it came to, ahem, Negan’s physical charm. None of us are sad that Negan doesn’t have that lovely, slicked-back look he dons in the comics. I loved JDM in Supernatural and loved him even more in TWD.

Throughout Seasons 7 and 8, I found myself constantly staring at my screen at 9 p.m. every Sunday like, “Wait, what just happened?” I understand that not every episode can be an “I’ll find you, Maggie” episode, but come on. Most episodes were just Rick arguing with some main character we love and failed plans to defeat Negan.

Let’s talk about Carl.

When it gets to the point that your original, main characters/actors are jumping ship (Andrew Lincoln, Lauren Cohan, Chandler Riggs), then maybe it’s time to re-evaluate what your show has become. I understand wanting to do something different with their lives, and good for them for moving on; I’m just upset that the story dragged so much that they had to up and leave. We only got a taste of Carl and Negan’s relationship and have to be happy with our still breathing characters talking about the one-eyed wonder posthumously. I know most viewers have a love-hate relationship with Carl, given that he always annoyingly wandered off — despite clear instructions from his father — then, surprise, he found himself in mortal danger.

Carl’s death is that of poor writing. Though Kirkman had fire under his feet to boot Carl off the show to coincide with the end of Riggs’s contract, a walker-bite to the abdomen? Yes, very Carl-esque way to go, given his track record with close-calls, but seriously? It just seemed cheap to me. Maybe my readers and editor disagree. Maybe it’s just because I was excited to see our Carl-Negan exchanges and sad they would never see the light of day. Maybe Carl was just starting to grow on me as a strong character. Who knows with this show any more.

Alright… Rick.

(Spoilers for the latest episode ahead!)

We all knew it was coming, we’d all accepted it (at least I did), and we all hated that it had to happen in the first place. The day finally came that we had to say goodbye to Rick Grimes… except we… didn’t?

The entire episode was fantastic up until the end. The creative leeway Angela Kang and company took was beautiful. Seeing all our favorites come back to the show one last time (except Shane) was refreshing. I would have liked to see Lori and Carl in the montage of Rick’s hallucinogenic dreams, but apparently there was a reason for that. The entire episode was emotional and full of nostalgia, right down to the ‘Don’t Open Dead Inside’ door that started it all.

Also, “Space Junk” making its comeback from the pilot was a nice touch.

Rick blowing himself up for the greater good of the group seemed like Rick way to go. Realistically, I don’t really know how he didn’t die from blood loss before that, given that it was highly likely that an organ or two were severely damaged. (But I don’t get paid to write for TWD so whatever.) The acting from all of Lincoln’s counterparts were powerful, especially those of Danai Gurira and Norman Reedus. Personally, I never cry so much over the actual death of the character, but the reaction of their loved ones. I’m actually surprised that Lauren Cohan didn’t get me this time, because she’s the winner for most tear-jerking reactions because literally everyone she loves is dead.

My tears, however, were shed in vain as a somehow-alive Rick washes up conveniently next to Jadis, who also conveniently has her helicopter friends right there. Yet again, a character survives a literally impossible situation. What was the point of hyping up Rick’s death with endless marketing for it only to rip the rug from under us and say, “Just kidding!” AMC really likes the deus ex machina strategy for their shows (see every Breaking Bad episode ever).

Also, what is going through Lincoln’s head? “I don’t want to star in my show any more, a production that has spent the last near-decade developing my character, but hell yeah, let’s do three movies furthering my story.”

If you’re going to kill someone off, kill them off! I was very pleased with Rick’s demise up until the point where he didn’t actually die.

Then we get to the time-jump. Six years. Little Asskicker is still ass-kicking and blowing the heads off walkers. I’m here for it. However… you’re telling me that Rick survives, and in those six years, he doesn’t pull an Atlanta and goes to the ends of the earth to find his family again? Literally find them, not figuratively in blood-loss-induced dreams. He didn’t even know where they were in Season 1, yet still found them. He actually knows where they are now, and he’s not there? Give me a break.

Again, it’s just poor writing. The actors are still doing their jobs with the scripts they’re given, it’s just a shame that it’s come to this. What was once my favorite show in the entire world is now just a, “Eh, I’ve been watching it for this long, might as well stick it out.”

I’m excited for what’s to come because hopefully it will bring this show back from the dead (pun intended). I wish Rick was there to see ‘what comes after’ but we all have to move on at some point. This transition will bring us The Whisperers and hopefully Alpha and Beta (Type A and B people?).