Is the Walking Dead, dead?
I think so.
Call me out for calling it early, that’s fine. And I really wish this wasn’t where my intuition was leading me. But I have a strong gut feeling. Stronger than the odds that Carl kills Rick in Oedipus-style fashion. Stronger than some of the best makeup artistry ever displayed on television. A feeling that’s lasted throughout season 4.
I’d love to see this show continue to surprise and captivate me in a hypothetical undead post-apocalyptic realm, but my viscera is telling me that the opposite is beginning to ring true.
Here are my 6 unfortunate justifications:
The Conflicts have become too Interpersonal
It is definitely hard and possibly boring to have the only issue in the Walking Dead world be a zombie invasion, but the drawn-out battle with the “Governor” and other conflicts within the camps have driven this show beyond its climax. We first thought it was peaking during its build-up in season 3, only to have the Governor return in season 4, and only to kill him off in a repeat attack on the prison during the mid-season finale. It was full of action, but the storyline became rote. Making the mid-season finale eventfully uneventful.
Subpar Acting Can Only Take You so Far
Although I’m amazed that two English actors (Andrew Lincoln, David Morrisey) and an English actress (Lauren Cohan) can craft such convincing Southern accents, they just don’t seem to have the skills to carry the show beyond the substance of its story. Namely, Rick is the problem. He’s been pushed on us as the super-protagonist while at the same time being the worst actor among the leads. He’s like a coach with a spectacular regular season record, but no championships. Rick kickstarted the Walking Dead beautifully, but can’t seem to get the show over the hump and into transcendence.
They Killed off the Best Character
IMO, Shane was the most interesting character on the show — outside of maybe a “I’m tired of being pushed around” Milton, and the “let me acrobatically retrieve that picture of you and your mother” Michonne, or even the “let me off myself to classic Rock” Merle — Shane was the best source of conflict, even better than the Governor, and the best at going against the “apocalypse status quo.” This is what originally made Walking Dead a great story. Making all of the interpersonal conflicts mentioned above seem synthetic at best. And even though he may have been killed off so John Bernthal could pursue other acting opportunities, his absence has revealed a lot of inadequacies in the show. Not to mention opening the aperture for objectively viewing Andrew Lincoln’s acting ability.
The Zombie Trend is Over
Zombies in 2014 just don’t grip the overground like they did at their peak in 2011. Three years ago everyone wanted in on it. Now, and just like any other trend, we have moved on to other things inducing our captivation. The ultimate way to capitalize on an emerging market, is to also know when to sell. That’s what Breaking Bad did. And that’s the crossroads where the Walking Dead currently resides.
The Characters are Wasting Away
It’s been a long time since the characters haven’t looked like the “walking homeless,” and it seems to be dragging down the psyche of the show. There have been a few moments of delight, but not enough to make the eventual demise of characters (barring a cure) seem anything more than both predictable and inevitable. So unless they reveal patient zero, figure out a cure, or have something truly unprecedented happen, this show will just keep dragging its feet just like the zombies that never seem to thin in numbers. And if they do reveal a cure, the show would probably be over, which proves my point via catch-22.
We’ve Been Desensitized
Perhaps the Walking Dead over-traumatized us. Maybe the intense action and repeated emotional anguish has worn us down to an emotionless nub. Desensitized to anything that’s about to happen. The shock value is gone to the point that our attitude has changed as we attempt to consciously follow the show. We’ve become like Beth Greene, if not the walkers themselves, following the tide of the show, and embracing the mantra “whatever happens just… happens.”
But maybe the Walking Dead is taking its time explaining itself. Or has little left to explain…
Or maybe Sergeant Abraham Ford is the new Officer Friendly.