The Walking Dead: The Problem With Perspectives Video Essay by Deffinition
After watching the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead, I am still dumbfounded as to why this remains one of TV’s most popular shows. Now I’m not going to overly bash it, or fill my discussion with puns like ‘The Boring Dead,’ do you see what I did there? But it has to be said that it certainly feels that a show centred around walking has run out of road.
Off To A Brisk Pace
Having been a fan from the start I was overwhelmed with how good the first season was. It perfectly depicted a post-apocalyptic world overrun by the undead and possessed a human side within that few shows have managed to match. Like many fans, I became enthralled in the storyline and fell in love with its characters and even though it struggled to maintain it’s quality I stood by it like a parent who knows the marriage isn’t working but hangs around for the kid. Basically Lori in Season Two.
Featuring a lacklustre set of seasons such as Four, Five and Six, many viewers decided to jump back on board with Season Seven after it heralded the introduction of Negan. The new cold blooded killer with a bigger boner for The Bat than the Joker. Legendary in the comics, he was here to shake up the show and alter the stale dynamics, potentially knocking it out of the park…I’ll try and stop it with the puns. However, after critical panning and outcry from fans it seems that the show is struggling to recapture the love that many viewers like myself once had.
I believe this is down to the episode formula of depicting an event and then showing every character’s perspective of it over the course of six to eight episode no matter how eventful or interesting it is.
Upon the opening of Season Six we saw the episode structure break the mould and focus around the group escorting Zombies away from their home in order to remain safe. Each episode followed a different character’s view of the events and it helped to build tension around the fate of Glenn. A beloved character that had mysteriously disappeared during the outbreak. Working expertly it teased his fate and became the Schrodinger’s cat of reddit fan theories on ‘is he/isn’t he alive?’
I absolutely loved this aesthetic and the writers carried it off in such a way that it kept viewers coming back time and time again, seeking the answer to his end. Obviously when something is this sucessful, creators and studios want to replicate it and like many TV shows, the Walking Dead has become a victim of it’s own success.
Flash forward to now and we get the same episode structure but there is about as much going on as one of Gabriel’s Sunday Services.
Slowed to a crawl
What annoyed me most about Season 8 was the fact that it had been billed as ‘All Out War‘, however, when you look at the overarching events, very little has happened. Once again focusing on a specific day from multiple perspectives, we are stuck reliving the same moments over and over with very little added to the overall narrative. The show has become Groundhog day.
What was so great about those initial seasons is that the pace was so fast they should have called it ‘The Running dea….’ ok I’ll shutup now. We went from major event to major event with no idea who would make it and who wouldn’t. Time passed in the blink of an eye and before we knew it the Survivors were shadows of their former selves, altered by the new world, they became machiavellian villains who would move heaven and earth to live another day. Time within this world allowed them to grow quicker than Carol’s hair and the show was better for it.
By Season Eight, we see the same day from different perspectives and whilst many could argue that this actually helps the audience intertwine with the characters on a personal level, I believe it does the opposite. Stunting them within a single moment, the characters are unable to really break free and evolve. Seeing Rick attack Negan’s followers one episode and Carol do the same the next at a different camp does nothing overall for the story and just adds repetitive beats that become less exciting the more frequently they happen. I don’t need to know what is going on with Maggie as an attack is being launched, she is not witness to it, I don’t need to know about Ezekiel’s forces being wiped out, they are not people I care about. The show is pitted as the battle between Negan and Rick and that should be its focus, not the battle before it told in seven slightly different ways.
The fact of the matter is, the last two seasons could have been summed up in Eight Episodes, Glenn Dies, The Group Become Slaves, They Break Free, Negan goes down. That’s it!
Just Put It Out Of Its Misery
In Season One and Two the tension between Rick and Shane was far more palpable than anything that has happened in Season Eight and similar to this essay, the show seems to dot around the diatribe rather than getting to the point.
I would love the show to go back to a single, unified group, living the event together as one, growing as a team. It would allow us to not only have a brisker story it would also avoid the repetitiveness of seeing the same moment from a different angle. Imagine if there was a movie, you watched it, enjoyed it and took everything that you could. Would it not be a waste of time to rewatch that movie shot from a different camera angle with the same beats and storyline? That is what The Walking Dead has become and why I no longer enjoy it.
I struggle to see how this show will end with a satisfying conclusion and if it continues on this path then it’s Walking it’s way to a Dead end….do you see what I….nevermind.
So in conclusion, please writers show us one event, move on. That’s all I ask, for my sanity and the sake of the show, please don’t let us have a rotten corpse as one of the most popular shows on television. Bring it back to life if you want it to survive.
Yeah, I’m not proud of myself.