I fell in love with the Walking Dead when it came out back in 2010. I had read the comic book and while it wasn’t my favorite series, it was intriguing enough for me to check the television adaption out and I was glad I did. It quickly became a favorite. The thing I admired was the uncompromising vision it presented on screen – the first scene of the series was a police officer shooting a little girl zombie in the head with a revolver for crying out loud! From that point forward, I knew the show was going to bleak and I was hooked.
Nowadays, I wonder if I going to continue watching?
It has become fashionable lately to doubt the Walking Dead and I feel that it is entirely deserved. Unlike most, I wasn’t put out by the premiere last Sunday. The violence is why I watch the show – what else do you think the end of the civilization is going to look like? I found Jefferey Dean Morgan’s Negan to be mesmerizing – I loved this actor since seeing him play the Comedian in Watchmen and I think he captures the character well. I thought the final scene of last season, the buildup and then the single extended shot of him at the end of the finale to be one of the better TWD moments in memory.
I’m turning against the Walking Dead because it has become boring.
First, rather than an adaption, TWD has faithfully stuck to the narrative presented in the comic books. Sure, there are some sequencing changes, some new characters (Daryl wasn’t in the comic book), and some characters have been changed and deaths happened at different times. That being said, all of the major plot points (‘The Farm’, ‘The Governor’, ‘Hilltop’, ‘Alexandria) from the comic have occurred on the show. The problem is that the comic book isn’t very good. There was a point in the beginning where it was solid entertainment but the quality has decreased markedly as the series has progressed and the story lines have become increasingly boring – oh look, another hidden threat of the horizon, wash repeat. Just like the show unfortunately!
The other major problem are the main characters themselves have grown as much as they are going too. Daryl has been redeemed from his bad boy background and is now a responsible citizen, hooray! Michonne is no longer a loner with a sword, she has found happiness in Rick. As far as Rick is concerned, he is caught in a rut narratively. He thinks he is a good guy – he is brought low and must be cruel – he hates himself for being cruel – he pulls back and becomes a good guy again – repeat cycle. The premiere would have you believe he has been brought low by Negan but totally not buying it. He will be ‘low’ until the story brings him back up again, just like it has before.
Hell, Carl is more interesting than Rick at this point!
Where does the story go from here? Well for one, it can focus on the three most interesting characters it has left. Carol and Morgan are the ideological centers of the show now – Carol is the stone-cold killer who is barely holding on to enough morality to prevent herself from becoming a serial killer. She hates what she has become but knows the necessity of it. Morgan understands Carol because he has been there and realizes that his muscular pacifist code is the only way to retain humanity in a world bereft of it. In many ways, the show has become about them and their competing views – they happen to be the only characters left who aren’t static in their journey. Add into it Negan’s fascist counterpoint to their contest and you have the recipe to making TWD great again.
I will continue to watch for now but the Walking Dead is on notice in my household. Start being interesting again or be eaten by the better shows out there.