I came to this party late. Very late. I abstained from watching The Walking Dead until last year. I’ve never been into the zombie genre. It always seemed so one-dimensional. Zombies attack, everyone runs, and ultimately no one escapes. The story ends in the inevitable pig pile of death. So, for a very long time, I assumed The Walking Dead would follow the same arc. I had even watched Season One: Episode One a few years ago, and concluded that the show would be exactly what I thought it was going to be. So I judged it unworthy of my time, and forgot about it.
It turned out that I was wrong. After years of hearing others call the show “the best on TV,” my wife and I reluctantly gave the show another chance. Our reasoning, if for nothing else, was that we needed to find out why everyone was hooked on The Walking Dead. We needed the mania to at least make sense. Season one of the show is still utterly boring in my opinion, but about halfway through season two, we were hooked. The story was certainly not one-dimensional; in fact, it was going places I didn’t think a television show ever would. We were binge watching on Netflix, night after night, loving the character building, the shocking deaths, and finding ourselves admitting we were wrong about The Walking Dead. It wasn’t just a show about zombies. It was a show about people, survival, and finding hope against seemingly insurmountable odds.
We caught up to the show just after Rick Grimes and his group found themselves behind the walls of Alexandria. At this point we were hooked. At this point we were Walking Dead fans.
But that’s where everything changed for me. In my opinion, the show has devolved into something lesser since that point. The characters had been sufficiently built, but in Alexandria we are forced to watch them stagnate. Carol is no longer bad-ass, and Daryl’s crossbow never seems to get enough of the spotlight. The plotline has fits and starts, and the show has lost the ability to make me believe they just might kill off anyone. The Walking Dead had never been boring, but now it felt like it was becoming so. It all came to a head with last night’s season finale, as I watched Rick and his group held hostage, on their knees, waiting for the next blow to come, and it never came. Not for the audience anyway. As the screen went black, the credits rolled, and the realization that I had just wasted another 90 minutes of my life washed over me. A much more sobering epiphany struck.
This is when I realized that as an audience, we were just like the characters of the show. We were hostages, on our knees, waiting for something to happen so we can stand back up… but nothing really happened.
Ask yourself this: what are the enduring images of last night’s episode? You will certainly see Negan with his baseball bat, Lucille, but think past that, what else do you remember? What stands prominently in your mind? For me it’s the repeated ads pushing us to watch Better Call Saul, or Fear The Walking Dead. Ask yourself why last might needed 90 minutes to tell a story that went nowhere instead of 60. Ask yourself why, when you hear the echoes of last night in your mind, you hear “AMC’s The Walking Dead.” I’ve never felt like I was watching HBO’s Game of Thrones, or USA’s Mr. Robot, but it’s definitely AMC’s The Walking Dead.
And this is why, when after 90 minutes of watching filler and commercials just to see who Negan was going to kill–because let’s be honest with ourselves, that’s all last night was–and then not be told who got that baseball bat to the head, I’m absolutely done watching this show. Last night was my series finale.
I will endure advertising for a good story, but I refuse to be strung along like some mindless fool, hooked up to the advertising machine, allowing myself to be shown ad, after ad, after ad, and be given nothing in return. We received no quality entertainment, no story, no resolution, and this has been happening since the walls of Alexandria appeared on the horizon. We’re all just kneeling in the mud, and watching commercials.
AMC’s Negan was exactly right, and it felt like he was speaking to AMC’s audience.
“Give me your shit or I will kill you. Today was career day. We invested a lot, and you know who I am, and what I can do. You work for me now. You have shit; you give it to me. That’s your job. Now I know that is a mighty big, nasty pill to swallow, but swallow it you most certainly will.”
Nah. I’m good. I’m not giving AMC half my shit anymore.
You really want to know who AMC’s The Walking Dead killed off last night?
I am a Continuum fan. I never expected much from the show when I first gave it a chance on Netflix. I love good science fiction, but I rarely seem to find good science fiction. Most of the time, science fiction fans are fed the same tired storylines that fail to hold interest. Or often, the ideas are interesting, but the entertainment money machine knows it won’t be able to effectively market to a slack-witted populace, so the project ultimately fails due to poor acting and poor funding. The latter of those two options is what I expected, at best, from Continuum.
I found myself pleasantly surprised.
The acting is good, and the writing buoys it. The series has allowed for character building in ways that you don’t usually find in science fiction. The characters stay indelibly human, and it makes them relatable amid a storyline that couldn’t possibly relate to anyone. (I think). Suspended disbelief is an understatement in any storyline that deals with time travel, but Continuum pulls it off wonderfully and leaves you wanting to watch each character’s progress.
The show also dares to walk amid the gray fog that stands between right and wrong, which is always a theme that interests me. In a world where the future can be changed, the ethics of exacting that change is a daily conundrum for the characters. I know it may not be a popular feeling, but I greatly enjoy stories that make me think more deeply about my own world and my own life. A “question everything” credo has always been a guilty pleasure I won’t relinquish.
So, needless to say, when the third season concluded and there was no contract for a fourth, I was upset. I wanted this show to finish. Not just because of the human need for closure in any situation, or because I liked the show, but because this show had done something different, and it deserved to be able to continue its story. Success for Continuum could mean success for other shows that make you think as much as they make you feel, while still entertaining.
After months of wondering and waiting, Showcase, the Canadian channel that has rights to Continuum, released all Continuum fans from their self-imposed purgatory.
The show would be renewed. (Cheers come from the crowd.) For a fourth and final season. (Hmm. Really?) That will consist of six episodes. (Shit.)
Great news, that turned into just good news, that eventually settled on a giant cloud of impending doom. If you’ve never watched the show, or even if you haven’t watched the first three seasons, you may not understand why I would react that way. However, for those who have watched the first three seasons, the immediate question is:
How in the world are they going to tie this story up in six episodes without completely destroying everything that was good about Continuum?
I am dubious… insanely dubious.
For fans of the show, you know that the end of the third season was almost akin to a sucker punch, but in a good way. (What? You’ve never been punched and liked it?) It was one of those moments in a storyline that tells you “everything you know is wrong.” Continuum had taken you off in one direction for three seasons, for the shear purpose of building you up to tear you down. It was the kind of breaking point that left you saying, “wow, this is going to get so good. They’re going to have to keep this going for another four seasons, at least.”
Nope… six episodes.
Simon Barry is a great writer, but six episodes?
If he can pull it off I’ll be amazed, and honestly, I’m really pulling for him. Continuum is a show I recommend, and a show I can’t wait to watch again. The SyFy Channel gets the right to broadcast it to us in the States, and when the fourth season premieres, I’ll be watching it full of hope.
But I’ll be watching it in the way I watch a basketball team, down ten points, with one minute to play. I’m pulling for you, but you’re going to have to pull off a miracle to win this one.