I have a friend, a former co-worker who lives in Minnesota now, but whose Facebook posts I still receive and read, who recently said he was done with The Walking Dead and probably wouldn’t watch anymore.
For the first time, I think I really understand this point-of-view. Oh, I’ve heard others say something similar in previous seasons. But, I was never completely sympathetic to their viewpoints. Now, for the first time in seven-and-a-half seasons, I just may be. Sympathetic, I mean. Perhaps, just a little, in agreement.
In other words, The Walking Dead is close to losing me as a viewer.
This is from someone who’s been on board since the beginning. Back when the show was engaging, dramatic, and shocking. Events of Season 7 had me in tears, even. There’s not much on television these days that can elicit that kind of emotion from an old Vulcan like me, but the first episode of the seventh season managed to do just that.
And now the show is beginning to suck.
I know, that’s not a professional reviewer’s term. “To suck.” I’m not a professional.
I have to wonder about my own mindset. I reached the same impasse with several of my former-favorite series lately. Okay, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow may never have actually ever been a favorite, but it lost me last season. I still haven’t watched most of this season of the show. During the current season, both Arrow and Gotham have disappointed me, and I’ve written about it. The Blacklist remains on the bubble.
It’s not me, though. I’m still a booster for Supergirl and Flash. I still like most things. I’m basically a wide-eyed Pollyanna here. I want to like everything. That’s what makes it so bad when I don’t. Especially when I’m beginning to have a bad opinion of a show that I’ve loved and recommended so often before now. It’s a lot like telling everyone to watch the series Lost but to skip the finale episode. Either all of it’s great, or it’s not great.
I want to make it clear that this has nothing to do with Carl’s revelation that he was bitten by a walker in the midseason finale, which is, as all TWD fans know, a death sentence. I expect that Carl will die a tragic death when the show returns from hiatus. Carl’s impending demise is a symptom of what’s been going wrong with the series, of course, but, to tell the truth, Glenn’s Lucille-to-the-head death was probably more traumatic for me and didn’t make me want to stop watching the show. In fact, Glenn’s death (which was true to the comic book at least), made me more interested in the series. Carl’s presumed upcoming death is a symptom of this show’s loss of heart. Did we really need Rick Grimes to suffer another huge personal loss? What kind of spiral will Carl’s death send him into? Will he be on conference calls with both Carl and Lori at the same time, on that telephone to the netherworld? Enough already.
Who’s next? Judith? Michonne? Never Rick, of course. Unless they do kill off Rick to prevent Andrew Lincoln from renegotiating his contract. Maybe Daryl will be killed off during the season finale. Why not?
The Walking Dead drew me in at the start with its characters, whom I’ve grown to love. The story was a steady progression with a set objective that continued to change during the course of the series, as it should. Then we met Negan, who was an agent of chaos suddenly introduced to the relatively stable world of Rick Grimes and his companions. Something about Negan put this show into permanent slow-motion. Everything is being telescoped. There are too many artistic closeups and slo-motion camera pans in bad lighting. I love Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan, but the show seems to working too hard to keep him relevant. And . . . the. . .pace. . .has. . .been. . .excruciatingly. . .slow.
The story this season has been disjointed and confusing to me. I don’t understand how Negan and the Saviors managed to gain the upper hand again after being so soundly defeated by Rick’s coordinated attack. I also don’t understand what Eugene has done to make the Saviors’ resurgence possible, or why he let the doctor leave at the end of the episode. Why did Rick go alone to try to rally the traitorous Junkyard Gang back to his cause, almost getting killed for his troubles? Now that I’m talking about it, why did Simon let Maggie and her people return to Hilltop after killing off a character we just met seconds ago? I know, the Hilltop community is meant to produce. I get that. But, Maggie still has a few dozen Savior prisoners at Hilltop. Why didn’t anyone want them released? She kills one of them in retaliation when she returns to Hilltop, but there’s still a lot more. It doesn’t make sense that the Saviors wouldn’t free them.
Parts of the finale episode made me feel like I’d dozed off somewhere in the middle of the story. I didn’t understand what characters were doing, or why. I’m still not sure how our heroes managed to turn a decisive victory into this new threat of defeat.
What’s worse, I’m beginning not to care.
Oh, I’ll be here when the show comes back. You knew that already. I’ll watch the last half of the season before I decide to leap off this long-running bandwagon. But, I’ll tell you now that I’m leaning in that direction.
This series doesn’t suck yet, but it’s beginning to suck. You can quote me on that.