First off, let me just say that I’m sorry for the radio silence around here. I was super sick for the past several days, but it’s all good now!
Back to the matter at hand! Fandom! Geekery! Zombies!
You may have noticed that I didn’t post a Walking Dead recap this week. Unfortunately, because of huge amounts of scheduling conflicts, I’m not going to be able to recap The Walking Dead at The Mary Sue anymore. It’s a bummer, and I’m so sad to have to miss out. However, I am going to be so incredibly busy in the next few months and I just won’t be able to do a good job for TMS recapping. I don’t know who is going to be taking up the helm, but I’m sure they’ll be great so check ’em out. And don’t worry, I’ll still be live-tweeting the show when I can and writing about the show here when I can.
I was able to watch the mid-season premiere of The Walking Dead, and I had All the Thoughts. So before I jump in, all those not caught up on The Walking Dead be warned:
My thoughts on the premiere? Overall it was a fun episode. It had lots of zombie gore and Daryl saved the day with a rocket launcher twice. Even so, I didn’t fully agree when I tuned in to Talking Dead and Chris Hardwick called it one of the best episodes ever. Why? There was drama. We watched Rick lose Jessie, a woman he was starting to allow himself to fall in love with. We saw Carl get shot, and then Rick got a great monologue where he told Carl he wanted to show Carl the “new world”. Dr. Denise and her Wolf captor had a lot of great character development, but I didn’t think it was the best because it didn’t exactly live up to the expectations I had.
After all, they were calling this premiere one of the bloodiest in a while, and touting how “everyone will NOT survive”. That’s the thing with The Walking Dead. The show always preaches about how “no one is safe” and that every single character could die at any moment. For a while, we all believed them. The early seasons brought us Carol’s husband’s death, Andrea’s sister’s death, T-Dog, Sophia, Dale, Andrea, Herschel, Lori, Tyrese, Beth, Noah, and Shane. All major characters whose deaths were shocking, but since Noah died last season, we haven’t had any big character deaths. You could maybe count Deanna in that, but since we were only just getting to know her, I’d say she wasn’t quite yet to the level of Glenn, Maggie, Michonne, Carol, Rick, or Carl. Instead of a major character death, we get situations like this:
In case you can’t tell, in the center of that horde (in front of the magic dumpster) is Glenn Rhee. He survived this by simply scooting and camping out underneath that dumpster. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled that Glenn is alive, but as more episodes go by without major character deaths and the show runners keep saying, “No one is safe!” it makes me wonder. Is that even really true anymore? Do I even want it to be true?
Over the past several seasons, they’ve seriously culled the herd of major characters. Now we’re down to a pretty small member of “main characters”–I’d say that’s Rick, Carl, Carol, Daryl, Glenn, Maggie, and Michonne. They all feel almost vital to the show. I can’t imagine The Walking Dead any one of those characters, but still, watching the show knowing that anyone who isn’t in the main bunch (or even the secondary main bunch like Sasha, Abraham, and Eugene) is essentially a Red Shirt really lowers the stakes for me. The Walking Dead is often likened to Game of Thrones, another show notorious for killing off its main characters. That show has killed off loads of highly popular, main characters, and it keeps on killing it in the ratings. It’s kind of awesome to watch a show not knowing exactly who will live and who will die. For a while, that was The Walking Dead, but I fear that they’re moving away from those crazy high stakes that we’ve come to love. Sure, it’s rad to know that our main characters will be safe more often than they’re endangered, but after a while doesn’t that start to remove the urgency of a zombie-ridden, post-apocalyptic world? In the mid-season premiere, there were loads of times where the survivors wiggled away from a near death experience, and by the end of the episode, I almost felt like rolling my eyes.
No, I don’t want any of my walker-fighting babies to die, but part of what I love about TWD is how brutal the world is. If it’s only brutal to Red Shirts, that urgency and moral questioning is gone. Of course, this all could be lulling us into a false sense of security. If you know the story of Negan from the comics–don’t worry, not spoilers here–you know that he will be bringing some serious craziness into the safe lives of our survivors. So it could be that the stakes are just about to get higher.
Ultimately, it’s a fine line to balance, making sure there are enough characters for us to get involved in the show without losing the show’s edge. I don’t want to lose any of my faves, but I also am really concerned that The Walking Dead could potentially be losing its edge by giving in to fan pressure. Of course, only time will tell.
What do you guys think? Is The Walking Dead losing its edge by keeping so many of the core group alive for so long–even in crazy circumstances like Glenn and the dumpster–or is it simply taking time to develop characters before they launch into the next, gut-wrenching story line? Let me know what you think in the comments!