The Walking Dead: Now

Posted on November 09, 2015

merrit wever

Merritt Weaver in AMC’s “The Walking Dead.”

 

We have this image of a bunch of The Walking Dead writers sitting around and hashing out the season and the plans for Alexandria when one of them sat up and asked, “Wait a minute. Who are these people, anyway?” As if it suddenly occurred to them that they’d been asking the audience since last season to form opinions and come to conclusions regarding a group of people (always collectively referred to as “Alexandria”) about which they know practically nothing. Ninety percent of what we know about the population of Alexandria up until this point has largely been told to us by the main characters. They’re soft. They’re unprepared. They’re in denial. And before last night’s episode, we couldn’t name more than two or three of them. Hell, we still can’t, even after an entire episode was spent on their lives, their fears, their foibles and their philosophy. So, after spending a rather dull hour on them, what do we now know about the Alexandrians that we didn’t know before?

They’re soft. They’re unprepared, They’re in denial. BUT THEY WANT TO LIVE.

Oh, okay then. And how do you prop–

WE NEED YOU, RICK. YOU’RE ALWAYS RIGHT, RICK.

In other words, we spent an entire episode doing a deep dive on the Alexandrians and got absolutely nothing new out of it. This was probably inevitable. There was no way to do an episode like this one without it being just a little boring. Okay, a lot boring, but our point is this: the Alexandrians needed to be defined and at some point this season, some time was going to need to be spent on these characters. After all, this being TWD, some of them will wind up integrated semi-permanently into the group while the rest will be given attempts at poignancy when they die and we struggle to remember what their names were. Maybe it’s not possible to do an episode like this without the result being at least a little bit dull, but we tend to think they could have cut the speechifying by at least half and the episode would’ve been better for it. Or better yet, they could have found more interesting storylines than “Doctor lady researches things, stresses out, and then saves patient-person” or “Teenage boys are self-centered assholes” or “People steal canned goods” or “Little boy doesn’t want cookies.” This is the best you could do in terms of defining this community?

It almost feels pointless complaining about it, because this is and always has been what The Walking Dead is about. It’s horror and action broken up by deadly dull characterizations with occasionally deep (but more often than not pretentious) insights into the human condition. It was ever thus and to be honest, we’re not even all that annoyed by it. Some of these characters are going to make great additions to the group and some of the others are probably going to have great death scenes, so we have some faith that at least some of the work being done with this episode will pay off down the line.

But there’s no denying this was the dullest hour of the season.

And while we weren’t annoyed by the revelations about hope and wanting to live and learning to be a bit harder, we were more than a bit annoyed by Deanna’s “THEY NEED YOU” to Rick. Despite the feeble dialogue attempts to make it seem so (“Sure, a lot of people died, but if not for Rick, A LOT MORE would have died!”), Rick’s plan still looks like an abject failure to us. More importantly, it should, by rights, look like one to the people of Alexandria, who were fairly skeptical of the plan working to begin with. So Rick convinces them all to go with his plan, even though there are some reservations about it working, mass death occurs, and everyone’s going to elect Rick their leader? This is our main problem with the “RICK IS ALWAYS RIGHT” motif. The deck is constantly stacked so that anyone who questions Rick’s way usually dies and the people who wind up coming around to his point of view don’t ever seem to have any reason to. Rick is just always right. Accept it or die. Meanwhile, the number of people who have died following Rick’s advice or after encountering Rick’s group is astronomical at this point, which is a huge reason why we, as audience members, find it so hard to accept.

Ah, well. This is a long way of saying it’s more of the same with The Walking Dead. Accept it or die.

Oh and congratulations to Glenn. If you’re still dead after Maggie’s little journey of faith, then it would be the dumbest death in the history of fiction. No, like Jon Snow’s, Glenn’s return seems all but inevitable at this point.

 

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