It’s become fashionable to threaten to stop watching The Walking Dead. I just watched the Season 8 finale, Episode 8.16 “Wrath.” And, now, I’m done. The show is coming back for a ninth season next year, but I won’t be watching.
Let me tell you why. It’s not all bad stuff.
In fact, the season finale felt like a series finale in many ways to me. The brave new world envisioned by the late Carl Grimes is about to be built. The citizens of Oceanside have finally ignored their own isolationist policies. Negan is defeated, even if Rick didn’t kill him as he promised to. It looks like the surviving Survivors will be folded into this new, enlightened world as neighbors instead of enemies.
Oh, there’s trouble ahead. You’d have to be more blind than Father Gabriel not to see it. Maggie, Jesus and Daryl are whispering behind the backs of Rick and Michonne, and it looks like a civil war will probably be brewing just because Negan isn’t dead. And, let’s talk about that, shall we? Negan isn’t dead. Which means that he will also be a future threat. Like the scorpion told the frog just before he drowned in the river, it’s just in his nature.
So, there’s plenty of fodder for future conflict. There’s mysteries that still haven’t been solved to my satisfaction. What about that helicopter? And just who is this Georgie person in her Hillary Clinton pantsuit and her new Bible that will save human society? Where’s Morgan going, and why is he suddenly appearing in the promos for that TWD spinoff that I stopped watching during its second season?
None of this matters. I’ve accepted this season finale as the conclusion to the story I began watching eight seasons ago. Most of the characters I started out with are dead and gone. The ones who are still alive are no longer as interesting to me. This season didn’t even suck, taken as a whole. I was entertained through most of it, even if the pace did seem unnecessarily slow at times. It certainly wasn’t as bad as the sixth season, which was somewhat redeemed by the seventh. This season was better than the seventh, even, but it just wasn’t enough.
Pulling the plug on the series now, for me, is a mercy killing. I don’t think I need to be on board for what comes next. The story I was watching is over. Of course, as always, I reserve the right to watch any future episodes at a later date. Maybe after the series ends, for real.
I’m not quitting the series because Carl died. Or because Negan didn’t receive the villain’s death he deserved. Nor am I leaving because of the many subplots that were never fully fleshed out. At least not in a satisfying way. Let’s not even talk about Dwight and Gabriel, or even Simon, who I genuinely miss. Carol, who is probably the toughest character out there, seemed relegated to the second string during the season as well.
Sure, Eugene came through at the end by sabotaging the ammunition the Survivors were going to use to wipe out Rick’s group, but even this was problematic. No way did I accept that a control-freak such as Negan wouldn’t test rounds besides the ones Eugene handed him to test fire. Just wouldn’t happen. The man-to-man combat between Negan and Rick throughout the season also seemed to get tired and pointless. The ending that might have kept me watching next season would have been the mutual deaths of both Negan and Rick, with the surviving members of both opposing groups left to rebuild not in either man’s image. Sadly, that didn’t happen.
Until the finale, I was still on the fence about bailing on the show. No longer. I don’t make idle threats: I’m out.
The Walking Dead has truly been one of the greatest series ever, and I regret none of the time I’ve spent watching it over the years. All good things . . .