From late 2010, right up until earlier this year, I was a Walking Dead fan. But not anymore.
Season eight was the final nail in the coffin (season seven contributing nicely), along with Andrew Lincoln announcing his departure. And to quote every parent that’s ever existed:
I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed.
Season one received a 90% certified fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes with this review:
“Blood-spattered, emotionally resonant, and white-knuckle intense, The Walking Dead puts an intelligent spin on the overcrowded zombie subgenre.”
Fast forward eight years later and season eight gets a 69% rotten consensus with this review:
“The Walking Dead’s eighth season energizes its characters with some much-needed angst and action, though it’s still occasionally choppy and lacking forward-moving plot progression.”
And honestly, most would deem this pretty generous. Viewers were basically done by the end of episode 16.
So, unlike the show itself, I’ll try to keep this interesting – what went wrong with The Walking Dead?
The same old storyline
It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment Walking Dead began to crumble. Some will argue the repetitive narrative established early on was the start. To refresh your memory, the basis of each Walking Dead season is:
Search for a new base – run into a group of angry people – destroy said people – take over their base – be attacked by another group of angry people.
From the Greene family farm to a high security prison, the group move from one expendable location to another with no end in sight. After eight seasons this gets predictable – why aren’t they venturing to another state or country?
What happened to finding a cure?
Way back when, Dr Jenner confessed to Rick that everyone is infected – the disease that turns people into zombies is airborne. Yikes.
Dr Jenner, defeated after not finding a cure, decides to kill himself and a few others that have simply lost hope. Before his death Dr Jenner shows Rick some of his research. It’s pretty impressive.
This suggests that with enough of the right people, a cure could be discovered. As it stands, at the end of season eight, the gang consists of a junior doctor, a few nurses, a police sheriff and Eugene – a walking, talking encyclopedia.
Couldn’t this merry band of misfits put their heads together?
Why aren’t the gang travelling to Washington DC?
When we’re first introduced to Eugene, Rosita and Abraham, we learn they’re on their way to Washington DC. Rosita and Abraham are glorified bodyguards, transporting scientist, Eugene, to try and reverse the effects of the apocalypse. Rick and the rest of his gang agree this is the best idea too and DC seems to be the final destination for everyone.
Of course, we find out Eugene was lying the whole time – he’s not a scientist. He’s super clever but also super pathetic and just needed a way to survive.
We still don’t know what Eugene did pre-apocalypse, he might not know how to prevent the disease right now, but who says he wouldn’t be able to with the right kit and material? Travelling to a city – especially the capital of the country – is surely a good idea?
This idea has been parked ever since, instead the team opt for hiding and fighting in Alexandria to the disappointment of every viewer ever. How cool would the White House or Lincoln Memorial look against a backdrop of herds of zombies? Very cool.
Nullifying (or killing) female characters
An easy way to lose your following? Make your female characters:
- only a wife, girlfriend or mistress
- a combination of the above
The only female character that’s been lucky enough to develop, grow and be genuinely interesting is Carol, but we need more characters like her. The Walking Dead creators seem to think because one female character is strong, clever and interesting they’ve ticked a box. But it’s not good enough.
And if you happen to be gay or not white, forget about lasting longer than a season.
Here’s just a few examples of the female characters that deserved better.
Lori: wife, mother, adulterer, dead.
Sophia: depicted as scared and hysterical, is killed a few episodes later.
Denise: brutally killed.
Deanna: lasted a season, died a leader.
Sasha: a rare, great character, takes her own life.
The female characters that aren’t dead yet are void of all meaning. Since becoming romantically involved with Rick, Michonne is irrelevant – with little to no dialogue. Rosita is only utilised near the end of season eight and Maggie is defined just by her pregnancy.
We’re to estimate (by the ages of the children), the group have been in the post-apocalyptic world for a good few years now.
Most, if not all, should know how it works by now. Yet, things happen that have us screaming at the TV.
For example, are we supposed to believe Carl, the poster boy of the apocalypse, would die from a zombie bite?
Are we supposed to believe Rick, a sheriff in pre-zombie world has the worst aim imaginable? It’s like he’s never held a gun before – please just kill Negan!
Are we supposed to believe Aaron just convinced the all-female community, after being asked multiple times to join the fight?
Plus, in the latter zombie fights of the season, the gang are struggling to kill the pesky walkers. Aim for the head! You know this by now! Why are people grappling with the dead?
It’s lazy and just plain insulting to those of us who’ve been here since the start.
Are you still a Walking Dead fan? Why? What’s still keeping you watching? Let’s talk about it.
by Shannon Watson
Shannon is a creative writing and film & television graduate. She loves lists (take a look at her Letterboxd profile), cats, Cillian Murphy and going to the cinema. When she’s not watching films, she’s writing about them on her website or over on Twitter @shazzzzakhan.