I’m retiring from The Walking Dead.
I did’t want to say quitting because it’s not that simple, but I have been pushed past a line I had hoped to avoid with this show, but given recent events I find it inevitable to refrain from every investing any more time or effort into it ever again.
TWD has now become a show that has officially squandered what could’ve been one of the most iconic moments in its six season history into something that resembles a cop-out resulting in a delay of time in a sad attempt to syphon off some of the national conversation that took place after Jon Snow’s death in the Game of Throne’s fifth season finale(spoiler. Sorry. Not sorry.) that has carried on right up until its season premiere in several weeks into the equivalent of this show. TWD tried duplicating that same strategy by choosing not to reveal who Negan killed with Lucille, his spiked baseball bat, and instead leaving us to wait six months in order to find out who met their untimely death with the hopes that viewers/fans/bloggers/etc. will pour over every frame for the next six months hoping to discover who died. There will be some that actually do this and I can completely understand why, however, whatever strategy the writers and producers had in mind for this will easily be cheapened once filming begins on this next season and spies on set will reveal who is not showing up for shooting. It’s just simply not going to work the way they want it to and frankly, I’m glad. I hope it blows up and backfires right in their faces.
For some time now TWD‘s storytelling has progressively become worse each season. Viewers/fans have been placated by the knowledge that something bigger is always over the horizon and if you just wait for that moment to come then you will be treated to an amazing ride with these characters you’ve invested so much time into and it will all be worth it. Of course, this is just a tactic to buy more time, to develop more stories and allow for more things to occur within the world that you see onscreen, but the truth is that the writers and producers of this show have now created too many spinning plates and have tempted fate and the fans’ patience too many times to deliver a truly deserving payoff that would justify everything that has happened up until this past Sunday’s finale.
Ever since his name was even hinted at being a possibility to manifest onscreen two seasons ago the tension has been building for his character to cross paths with Rick & Co. From then, it has just been a game of, “You think this villain is bad, just wait until Negan arrives…it’s gonna get crazy!” I have even uttered this line myself to people that were on the fence about whether or not to stay with the show, all the while truly believing that if we as fans can just make it to that point in time all past transgressions will be forgiven:
The Prison Sickness
Watered-down, wimpy Governor
The Hunters too brief encounter
Getting lost in the woods
Splitting up time and time again
Talking and Talking and Talking with the people of Alexandria
Yes, allllll of that would be forgiven once Negan, no, Lucille was on our television screens. We, the fans, had become the very thing we watched each week; blood hungry consumers ready and waiting for someone to die in Rick’s camp in order for one of the baddest comic villains to finally be a real and tangible entity.
This season was always building towards Him which made the waiting and filler stories bearable because as stated earlier, if we just waited it out, it would all be worth it in the end. The season even started out as all the previous ones have; a strong season premiere, less action in the following episodes and a huge cliff-hanger before the winter break. When the show returned, that’s where it really went wrong for TWD.
I don’t mind people in Rick’s camp dying. In fact, more often than not, I’m rooting for them to, however, what I can’t stand is a poorly written cliff-hanger where the Executive producer goes on live television afterwards and gives the whole “I dunno. You’ll have to wait and see what happens…” type of speech to the nation. Making matters worse, the proposed death was with a major character that died a tremendously different way in the comics. I’m referring to such a different and monumental way that the writers dare not even attempt to change the death from the comics…and yet, what do they do…tease us with the possibility of them doing that exact thing, which is such a cheap way to kill off a major character. Please understand that I am all for major players dying. It would feel cheap and stunted if only minor characters were killed off and we never had any real sense of loss in their world because all of the main actors got to stay on the show.
I applaud Robert Kirman’s writing with The Walking Dead graphic novels because he creates such tension that at any moment any one of them could die and knowing that while reading their story keeps you on a constant edge. The show has failed to do this repeatedly, which is why I understand their wanting to make the viewers second guess if Glen really did die amongst that zombie horde because it’s something that the comics never did and it is attempting to keep the fans guessing on what comes next. In my opinion, that’s what the created characters that aren’t in the comics should be made for. They are expendable and serve as a utility tool because you can create a sense of loyalty with them and fans, cultivate that relationship and dramatically change it by killing them off or altering their paths in some way and the viewers will not see it coming because they have nothing to reference. After experiencing both the highs and lows from this occurring I can say it still weighs heavily on a fan if someone that isn’t originally in the comics yet is still a favorite dies. Those feelings, mixed with the characters that the actual comic has created make for a potent combination of the expected and unexpected that create an amazing experience week to week…or at least it did. I also get the need to do things different from the comics in order to establish yourself as a similar but different vehicle for telling the story, but too much teasing with not enough payoff, too many diversions from character development only to introduce even more new characters can greatly diminish any anticipation that builds as a season reaches a climax and then tries to progress into the next.
Which brings me to the finale.
As everyone knew, Negan was coming. We knew he was going to make an appearance towards the end of the hour and a half episode which all of this happened to perfection, but let’s be honest, the finale did not need to be that long. In fact, at one point I clocked the actual scenes were only six minutes long with three minute commercials in between for most of the middle part of the episode. SIX MINUTES!!! There was no reason for that.
In the actual episode, there was little to nothing that actually happened that couldn’t have taken place in the usual weekly timeframe. I think the argument could be made that if the episode were only an hour it would’ve only heightened the tension that was created as Rick’s group kept getting diverted by The Saviors. Those were tense moments but because they were stretched too thin by the long runtime and horrible B-story involving a neutered Carol the tension was completely lost each time they cut away. The impending fear that was on the faces of the RV crew was terrifying as you knew what it was building towards. Each encounter with The Saviors became more and more heightened as you could clearly see they were being slowly boxed in to going exactly where The Saviors wanted them. That was a great example of writing but like I stated earlier, the Carol debacle only took you out of that dread by slowing things down to almost a crawl in an already overly-long episode.
Let’s talk about Carol for a moment.
Kirkman has already gone on record as stating Carol is the one character that is practically untouchable or unkillable on the show which is why I’m sure the writers thought that if she wasn’t going anywhere then they probably had to explore some sort of new avenue for her in order to keep her moving forward and not just to become a stale afterthought who’s always being left in Alexandria while the others go outside the walls. But her regression from being a ruthless, cold but necessary killer to a shadow of her former self in season one was so steep and so swift that it felt off from the very first time we saw her have a conflict of conscience. I had my reservations when they started her down this path not because it wasn’t interesting but more because the timing felt off from the very beginning. I can come to terms with the cost of taking a life weighing differently on various people, but at the time when it hits her the hardest the group needs her the most is hard to swallow. I’m sure the writers thought that this was a great move on their part due to how Carol’s story was traveling in the opposite direction from Rick & Co. and creating this inner tension with different faction within the group adds more drama into the mix, but it just didn’t work the way they had intended.
All of this culminated in me officially retiring from The Walking Dead. I just can’t invest my time in this show week to week. It’s exhausting, frustrating and disappointing to say the least. I’m tired of being treated like a fan that is stupid or some sort of sheep that will follow this show with blind loyalty no matter what story they tell (good/bad) with the hopes that it will eventually hit the right note to where it can be satisfying. In the beginning, I was loyal. Nothing like this genre had ever been successfully accomplished on network television, especially with a network such as AMC, however, the cracks in the pavement were there. Signs all pointed to them eventually wearing out their welcome to the point where fans would be fatigued and just not return or do like I will and wait until hit hits Netflix that way as I progress through whatever is next for this show and I for some reason do not like it I have options; skip, delete or move on entirely. I think I’m looking most forward to that feeling of freedom with TWD because I’m just tired of them over-promising and under-delivering.
After what they did to Glen, we should’ve seen this coming as fans. They attempted to explain it away so that we would come back and at that point we always were going to give them another chance because in the back of our minds we could imagine the whack of Negan’s bat on someone’s head and we couldn’t wait to get there. But TWD has grown too powerful to the point where they are becoming greedy and taking their fans for granted in thinking they will always be around. They won’t. In the age of too much television and with so many options, if you don’t keep me engaged in a positive manner, I’m done. It’s that simple.
The Walking Dead used to be good and often times flirt with greatness, but then they stumbled into Hershel’s farm and something was left there that really made the show stand out from anything else we had ever witnessed on TV. With this in mind, Negan is a breath of fresh air, a much needed breath and there is no doubt in my mind that the show needs to hold onto him for as long as they can, but ever since the finale aired this past Sunday and the show bungled Negan’s entry, there is no amount of explaining away or justifying what they lacked to do that can save this show from fans that have six months to let their anger stew. TWD will no longer be a part of my weekly routine. I have just ceased to care for it any longer and the saving grace to all of this is knowing that they have created such a problem with the way the finale was handled that there is literally a no-win situation that has been born out of it for them. From this moment forward, shows that make similar mistakes will always been compared to THIS moment. This will appear on blogs and lists, etc for years to come at how bad a moment for TV this was.
Which is why I’m looking forward to my retirement. The days of TWD having a place in my weekly routine is long gone and quite frankly it’s a wonderful feeling. I’m sure those “true fans” will try to justify what the show is doing until October rolls around and with that I say, Godspeed. I just can’t waste any more time on a show that takes me for granted.