As far as zombie apocalypse dramas go, The Walking Dead does paint a pretty grim picture of what life would be like in such circumstances. Season 8 has been by far the bleakest view of this world, where the real enemy is that of people, not “walkers”. Although many have suggested the real enemy is ACTUALLY the showrunners, in particular, Gimple, who has been accused of ruining a once great show.
The Negan storyline has not captured all fans. Many believe the story has dragged out for too long and Negan did not translate well onto the screen as he did in the comics. It is a problem the showrunners need to address because the show, like Carl, is slowly dying.
The endless battle continues from the season finale a few months ago. At first, the battle seemed exciting, the crew we all loved were fighting back and they were winning! However, episode after episode after episode after episode of the same thing, it was getting tedious. Then the ridiculous storylines. Negan somehow managed to not only escape a horde of walkers but also managed to summon all his people, about 40 cars, find some weapons, and formulate and execute a plan that had multiple people in multiple venues all at the same time, in perfect harmony. I know it is a science fiction show, but come on, no one is buying that.
On top of the interminable battle, is a decision that has left fans baffled – killing off a major character Carl Grimes. A surprising decision because it has been a long-held fan theory that Carl is the narrator of the story, that it is his life story, growing up in the apocalypse and the lessons he learns from his father, will make him a future leader, or as Negan put it, future serial killer. Carl also features very heavily in the comics in upcoming storylines, including saving Negan and befriending him while he is in the jail in Alexandria. This will now not happen, as Alexandria has been torched and Carl will be no longer.
Of course, the creators have tried defending their position. Gimple, the center of this controversy justifies his decision “This [next episode] sets very important ideas for the rest of the season,” he said, “very important motivations, and it re-contextualizes everything that’s been going on and gives it a perspective that just can’t be denied. It scrambles some things. But Carl’s presence is felt very deeply in the story, throughout the story. It’s a critical aspect of the season.” Gimple has had great success with the show, some of the best episodes were created by him. However, has he lost his touch? Instead of casting a critical eye, there are too many involved who are self-congratulating. New blood that is not infected needs to be brought in or the show is finished.
The creators of The Walking Dead have not won fans over in quite some time. Some controversial decisions have led to quite a lot of backlash, starting from the “cliff-hanger” of who did Negan “Lucille?” Having a cliff-hanger when there is so much social media is near impossible and everyone knew who was killed because surprisingly they did not appear to be filming anymore. People did not care. When Glenn had his fake-out death, people were really sad, devastated. When Glenn died by Lucille it was all a bit ho-hum, there were more memes than tears. We all saw it coming -cliff-hanger gimmick failed. The Negan storyline has not lived up to expectations. It has taken too many repetitive episodes to convey that Negan is a bad guy (a really bad guy, I mean so super bad, so bad he has to bend his back when he talks and he kills people indiscriminately, really, really, really bad) The Negan storyline has failed, people are bored and definitely not impressed.
The failed storylines have led to a dramatic fall in the ratings, with viewership at an all-time low. The Season 8 mid-season finale was the worst ratings for a finale since the show began. So what do the creators do to desperately claw back ratings? Let us kill off a major character – Carl Grimes. I have a feeling that gimmick will fail, even if there is a little boost in the ratings as people want to see how this character goes, people are mad enough not to watch after that. You should not kill the heart of the show so lightly. It has whiffs of “jumping the shark”, surely we are not that desperate yet.
The showrunners need to go back to what made this series unmissable, binge-worthy drama. It was in the relationships people had with each other (that is the humanity they showed) with a few gross zombie deaths (the squishier the better) and of course the conflicts as well. Conversation, pathos, sublime music selection and real heart. This is what made the show great. Let us hope that The Walking Dead is not slowly dying like Carl. The cure is there, the showrunners need to find it.
Written by Sophstar
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All photos from AMC website
Comic photo combination from The Walking Dead Skybound