The Corner

Culture

What I Loved and Hated About This Half-Season of The Walking Dead

In response to John O’Neill

Look, I know I’m the junior zombie-blogger in these parts, but I can’t let Jonah have all the fun. There was lots to love and hate about this half-season, so with the necessary spoiler warning, let’s proceed.

I know that I’m an outlier here, but I kinda loved all the stupidity, and there was much stupidity to love. Rick’s plan to lure the zombie herd from the quarry was suspect for all the reasons Jonah identified (though I’m less sanguine about the prospects of sealing them in). Morgan lurched from pacifism to recklessness by secretly locking a very live and very dangerous Wolf in a room. Glenn was crazy to give Nicholas a second chance. Daryl was too trusting. Abraham risked calamity in an idiotic close encounter with a walker. The list could go on. But I find all the human error to be the most realistic aspect of the show. People — especially an untrained gang of people thrown together in the most harrowing of circumstances — make a lot of mistakes. Yes, they get better with more experience (the Grimes Gang is a far more efficient survival machine than it was in the opening seasons), but people will still do the most spectacularly stupid things — especially when hungry, stressed, and tired. And spectacularly stupid things can make some great TV.

I loved the concept of focusing multiple episodes around a single event — the attempt to neutralize the zombie herd. At its best, the episodes expertly showed not just the “fog of war” — how everyone is forced to act on partial (and often incorrect) information — but also how the enemy always gets a vote. Random attacks, surprising ambushes, and inevitable zombie responses disrupted plans and spawned several good sub-plots. Focusing on one crucial fight is a great way to breathe life to a story arc that was devolving into an endless road march from one doomed refuge to another.

I love that Glenn’s alive. I know his escape was implausible to the point of impossibility, but I don’t care. Glenn’s family.

However, I hated the mid-season finale. Rarely has so little happened in one hour of heavily-hyped television. After multiple action-packed episodes — chronicling an entire fight against the Wolves, Daryl’s series of narrow escapes, Morgan’s path to peace – it was almost as if the showrunners were exhausted. For the finale, they basically said, “Screw it. Let’s kill off a minor character, let Glenn get a glimpse of Maggie, and leave everyone else in the same degree of danger they were in at the end of the last episode.” Episode seven ended with the tower falling and everyone about to die. Episode eight ended with the zombie herd in town and everyone about to die. Look, I get the need for a cliffhanger, but was watching Rick and friends walk out of house covered in zombie guts any better cliffhanger than watching the tower fall and the wall collapse?

Finally, I still hate the show for killing Shane. That’s a wound that will never heal. 

 

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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