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?