Do not read on unless you have already seen the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead and are up to date on plot developments in the comic. If you are up to date or don’t mind spoilers, read on.
This week has seen the broadcast of The Walking Dead’s Season 8 mid-season finale and it has pissed off the online fan community and fans of the comic book alike and for very good reason. I have had my doubts about The Walking Dead for a few seasons now. I have been a fan of the show and watched it without fail since its inception but it has become painfully obvious of late that the show is running embarrassingly low on both steam and purpose, relying heavily on shocks and fan-baiting red herrings to keep its waning viewing figures out of the red.
The standard of writing on the show has dipped dramatically in recent years featuring massive jumps in logic, just plain dumb narrative moves and excess padding to keep the show plodding along and fill out the season. Every year I tell myself it’s building up to something good, something special, last years introduction of Negan was admittedly brilliant and harrowing in equal measure but then it just slipped right back into lazy plot devices and filler, little to no character development, particularly in the case of new additions of which I’d regularly find myself asking “And you are?!”. I kept telling myself to have faith, stick with it because when Walking Dead is good, it’s really good. Unfortunately the flip side of that coin is, when Walking Dead is bad, it’s embarrassingly bad.
The latest in a growing line of questionable narrative choices came in this seasons halfway point when they revealed that Carl Grimes, a character who has been in the show from the beginning and is still a major part of The Walking Dead comics had been apparently bitten by a Walker at some point in an already jumbled, directionless and far too busy episode, possibly prior on a episode a few weeks ago when Carl was set upon by Walkers in the woods? It’s possible this could be set over the course of 24hrs or so but it’s frankly terribly edited and more than a little ill-conceived.
My initial feelings were, here we go another “shock”, which is all well and good if the decision makes sense narratively and wasn’t such a humongous divergence from the comic. Carl in the comics survives the ‘All Out War’ narrative playing an instigating role in the introduction of new antagonists The Whisperers. He’s a key character in major plot developments, not expendable in the slightest. The decision to kill Carl in the show feels like it’s for gratuitous shock value and nothing more as it’s so completely non-sensual to the plot lines moving forward. Now, I may be wrong, in a few months I could be eating humble pie here but I severely doubt that to be the case in what appears to be an overly cynical ploy to rescue the show from its rapidly depleting viewing figures with cheap gratuitous plot twists.
I feel with this latest move The Walking Dead may have finally ‘jumped the shark’, a term coined from a late episode of Happy Days where The Fonz jumps a shark on his motorcycle, basically a term for a long running show, possibly too long running, making a stupid and quite possibly, massively damaging narrative choice that signals it’s decline, it feels like The Walking Dead may finally be at this point in its run. A part of me hopes I am proven wrong, it makes its bold gambit and it pays off in new surprising and daring ways to step defiantly back from the brink of disaster, I unfortunately serious doubt this to be the case and fear The Walking Dead may not be much longer for this world as its rotting limbs fall off one by one as it shuffles toward an ignominious end.