Pardon our Chandler-Binging, but could the title of this episode be any more generic?
Is that an annoyingly picayune way to open a review? Yeah, sure. But it tends to sum up our thinking about this episode and about the direction of The Walking Dead in general. It’s perfunctory. It’s expected. It follows exactly the same beats, over and over again. And yet, despite the rigidly formulaic nature of the series, it is, in the worst and most ironic twist, teeth-gnashingly inconsistent. In short – and for the hundredth time – The Walking Dead has gotten really, really lazy.
We’re almost overcome with ennui over the whole thing, so we almost don’t even feel like listing the flaws (especially since we get an acute sense of deja vu when we do), but here goes:
Once again the show has nowhere to go dramatically due to an almost stubborn refusal to do any kind of story except one that upholds the show’s central (and we would argue only) theme: “People are stupid and they suck.” To combat this lack of direction and drama, a slaughter of the peripheral characters is undertaken. RIP, blonde lady and her two asshole sons. Unfortunately, you got Rick’d over. And speaking of…
Once again Rick does something so jaw-droppingly stupid that if any other character did it, they’d be dead in ten seconds. Worse, it makes no damn sense. Carl just got shot in the eye and as soon as he receives a second of medical attention, Rick leaves him and runs out to … what? Fight zombies like he’s Batman or something? Yes, in fact. That is exactly what he does. And because he’s Rick, not only does he not die under circumstances that the show has demonstrated over and over and over to be so dangerous as to be unthinkable to expose oneself to (we’ll get to that in a second), but he rallies the entire town of Alexandria, a town we’ve been told for a year now is full of soft people who have no idea how to fight or stand up for themselves, to rush headlong into the most dangerous possible situation one could face in this world and triumph. All through the power of Rick. And the power of the writers to stack the deck in his favor.
Suddenly, after six seasons and countless scenes depicting the exact opposite outcome, we learn that even relatively untrained people can simply run straight into a herd of hundreds of walkers and prevail against them by shoving them and using weapons no more sophisticated than steak knives. A dozen or so people against hundreds. Remind us again how there was ever an apocalypse in the first place? If a tiny bunch of untrained suburbanites with kitchen utensils can take out hundreds of walkers in one night, how exactly did all the world’s militaries not manage to do it? Even more maddening were the moments when people – in the middle of a huge herd of zombies – stop to have brief conversations or to quietly assess the situation. These are apparently very polite zombies who are happy to give you a moment to collect yourself before trying to eat you.
Oh, and once again Glen survives certain death. First, he was lucky enough to get totally swarmed by a strain of zombies who forget to actually sink their teeth into him, and then he apparently used his mind powers to ensure that the barrage of bullets leveled at the creatures who have completely surrounded him somehow turn intangible once they kill all of his attackers and pass harmlessly through him. Seriously, there was no possible way for anyone to shoot all those walkers without hitting him. The thing about hiding under the dumpster earlier in the season? Get used to it. This is the new normal for the show. Not only will people be arbitrarily killed left and right, but the more popular ones will be arbitrarily allowed to survive, even if it contradicts the show’s history or the laws of physics.
We know there are people who enjoyed the fist-pumping fuck-yeah moments – especially the really fan-servicey stuff with Daryl, who really is starting to become the ZA’s Batman character – but the entire thing left a giant “Feh” on the tips of our tongues. With all the logic thrown out the window, an insistence on never deviating from telling the same limited story over and over again, and super plot armor set aside for the more popular characters, we find it impossible to care anymore. There is not one character on the show whose death would upset us at this point. None of them really matter. They’re either cannon fodder or superheroes.
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