The Walking Dead is a show that has reached highs and lows, and largely bases itself around a strict formula
The Walking Dead, perhaps more than any other series currently in its sixth season, has truly had its ups and downs. So much so, that one website, theverge.com, reviews each episode according to their likeliness to quit the series. It is fair enough. Audiences who have stuck with the show have had to go through half-seasons of watching characters try to build something, before coming up against a formidable opponent in the season finale, failing, travelling, and then repeating. In recent years, The Walking Dead has struggled in the wake of shows, such as Game of Thrones, which do something that The Walking Dead has only done a few times within its last few seasons. Take risks.
As part of its repetitive format, The Walking Dead is now expected to kill off a major character every season finale. The season six finale does this, but doesn’t show you who, making it seem like the show runners merely couldn’t decide who to kill off thanks to contract disputes. Within the show’s first few seasons, this could have been got away with, but now, six seasons in, even me, someone who has gritted his teeth through each and every one of the show’s 83 episodes, is not happy.
But can you really not expect a tired format from a show that relies on the survival of its main characters? Neither Rick nor Carl Grimes (played respectively by Andrew Lincoln and Chandler Riggs) are ever going to be killed off, and several other characters, for example Michonne (played by Danai Gurira), are being added to that safe list. Something that the show’s competitors, again for example Game of Thrones, thrive off not having.
As well as this, there are moments in the second half of season six of The Walking Dead where we see our main characters living, instead of surviving. We see them having a lie-in or listening to music. Although the show runners have inserted these moments into the season in order to try to trick the audience into thinking that perhaps this is ‘happily ever after’ for our characters, these moments instead reminded me of the tired format that The Walking Dead is suffering from. The inclusion of Negan and his group of Saviors into this, although true to the comic, is testament to such.
So what can save me, and seemingly several other audiences, from giving up on The Walking Dead? What the show really needed in its finale was the grand unveiling of Negan as this truly evil, ominous, yet also hilarious character who was going to brutally kill a main character with Lucille. But instead, what we got was a character with his cards close to his chest, and a mere thud of an unnamed bat with barbed wire coiled around it to end the season.
I don’t know if I’ll be back for season seven, but I’m praying that The Walking Dead’s younger spin-off sibling, Fear The Walking Dead, can quench my thirst for apocalyptic survival in the face of zombies, and other humans.