Should Season 8 be The End for The Walking Dead?
Atlanta To Alexandria
For nearly a decade, Sunday nights in front of the television has been my sanctuary.
Among my other Sunday night comforts- The Walking Dead has always been there like an old familiar friend. The well crafting writing juxtaposed with chaos- an hour packed with blockbuster level gore framed with the someone from the groups backstory of what got them to this point where they are in the story. The Walking Dead is a story of ragtag misfits that united to save the world from the un-dead and now the added threats of the what remains of humanity after the collapse of polite society.
I've hung on every second from Rick waking from his coma to find a world in chaos and go on to lead and unite his group, defeat The Governor, and take Alexandria. I've drooled every week over Norman Reedus and his portrayal of social outcast turned hero, Daryl to the point where my coworkers actually printed every Daryl picture they could and push pinned the image to the walls around my desk.
I never thought that I would be over the familiarity that came from my weekly hour of zombie brain bashing and heart warming story...
So what has changed on the show that is steadily dropping the ratings since the deaths of Glenn and Abraham last season?
Why doesn't the show feel the same anymore?
Many fans reportedly dropped off since the deaths of Glenn and Abraham last season
A Whole New World
Brave in its storytelling, The Walking Dead has never shied away from the death of a beloved of character- if it was used to enhance the plot or bring the group into a new head space that would propel their mission and drive to survive the zombie filled world.
Fans of the comic series already knew what would happen in the cases of most character deaths, though they were often creatively teased out to be dramatized for the television show or one of the characters created for onscreen; often a composite of several comic characters that didn't make the cut for live action; the scandal around the departure of Abraham and Glenn was the drop off point for many fans. It wasn't, such as in the case of my husband, that they could't be believe the show actually killed these characters, it was how the whole break between season The Walking Dead did a "Who Shot Mr. Burns," a la The Simpsons playing up the mystery of to who Negan actually had killed when we know exactly who it was going to be from how it was teased up the previous season with Abraham's necklace being found, and the Glenn death fake out weeks before when he conveniently hid under a dumpster from walkers.
Dumpster Gate complete with memes, was the pivotal "Jumping the Shark" point for many fans who never rejoined for Season 8.
I could get over that Maggie still doesn't look pregnant even though its been an unspoken amount of time since the events of Glenn's death. I can even forgive how most of Season 7 was akin to watching Seinfeld and was mostly about nothing. Sure we finally met The Kingdom, Maggie is now at Hilltop- but the whole "Hey we found more people!" could have been teased out in about three or four episodes.
This whole dragging it out for nothing was a waste of a season with the big promise "Next Season there will be so much action!"
Enter Season 8 where there is nothing but action...but maybe three lines of dialogue an entire episode.
Season 7, draining and draggy still wasn't as painful as a re-watch of Season2-4 where nothing happens...Nothing happens on a farm, then nothing much happens in a prison...then nothing much happens separately to members of the group.
Running and Shooting
Season 8 of The Walking Dead seems to be the response of all the fans that felt Season 7 delivered nothing but a few miserable episodes of meeting new people, finding out that those people were all depressed over those they had lost to Negan and The Saviors as well, and trying to convince each other they should do something about that.
Half the season was wasted on the kidnapping of Daryl which was extremely out of character that arguably the strongest male on the show could be broken and not try to escape his captors. We went on a strange walkabout with Tara where she came across a society of women who had lost their husbands and sons to Negan who were only kept in the plot when they needed to go back to a cache of guns, and the group that lives at the garbage dump that never added much to the comics plot either.
Season 7 was buried in filler but we finally had The King and his tiger.
Season 8, making a turnabout to include as much fighting as possible where Season 7 had a lot of cowering- has been nothing just running and shooting for the sake of running and shooting. Unable to tell who is Us VS Them, our heroes appear to be doing a live action Call of Duty larp and have used the first few episodes waste a tremendous amount of amo without much of a plan.
The great story telling of the comic for the war is not there. The great acting we have come to expect from The Walking Dead is overshadowed by too much going on that my brain feels like I have ADHD and I can't take in who is US, who is Them.
Adding to the confusion is the quick combat conversation is the only dialogue to push the story along. The confrontation between Morgan, Jesus, and Tara over if those Saviors that surrendered should be executed and King Ezekiel losing his tiger were the only times I've been allowed to feel anything this season and even that feels cheap.
The conflict between Jesus, Morgan, and Tara along with The King losing his tiger are the only times I've been allowed to feel anything this season between the gunshots.
Playing It Too Safe
In a series like The Walking Dead, which had no earlier qualms about killing off essential characters when the cast got "too big" or it was a pivotal point from the comics translated to the television screen, we have come to know that certain characters are untouchable and that hurts the credibility of the Season 8.
Just like Daryl's Season 7 capture, it is understood any mess that Carol, Rick, Maggie, Daryl, and apparently even Carl who they strangely used an being shot two different times instead of the just the loss of the eye in the comics- any time this group has a member in danger I don't even bother worrying if they will walk away unscathed.
Of course those left from Atlanta will always be fine because these are the beloved stars that we wait in long lines at conventions to snap a photo with. Where I was among the "If Daryl dies, we riot," I find a little hard to believe that he is untouchable.
Claiming Rick Grimes has to be the last man standing in The Walking Dead because he is the first character we meet doesn't seem logical.
Becoming predictable an boring over the years, the writers have fallen off telling a great story among the decaying of the bigger world.
I stopped caring what is happening to these people along the way and spend more time yelling at the TV to "Get on with it," where I used to hate to watch an episode end. Somewhere along the way of Beth being kept by the police woman at the hospital, the writers forgot its the connections to these characters that keep us tuned in weekly- not the new locations.
I never cared for the writing on spin off Fear The Walking Dead where the writers never bothered to develop any sort of personalities for the characters and the actors fit into neatly checked boxes of "husband", "wife", "children," "older couple" and not much was ever known about who these people were actually until they were slowly killed off. With producers stating at some point Fear and The Walking Dead will marry into one big train wreck, I don't think I want to be on board.
I have so much love for most of the last seasons and the concept of the show that I feel Season 8 is trying too hard after being so tame that a chunk of the viewership dropped off.
It all has to end somewhere, and maybe in the 9th season.
Could it ever go to happily ever after like Rick's hallucinations? Maybe.
After the defeat of Negan and The Saviors, could the remaining people go back to whatever town they want to live in and continue to be trade partners and maybe eventually rebuild a society? Sure.
Do I want to see that? Undecided,
Am I still bored with the new format of all action but no plot of Season 8? Defiantly and that is a statement I thought I would never make about such a well constructed show.