Saturday, April 9, 2016

The Walking Dead Season 6

The Walking Dead continues to be an amazing show and I will continue to watch, but so many things bother me about this show. I usually wait until September Zombies to post this, but I couldn't wait this time. Here are my spoilery thoughts about this past season.

The Good

* The Season starts with a bang

There are more zombies than I have every seen before on screen and the inhabitants of Alexandria try to move them along before the whole horde comes bashing down their door. The first couple of episodes are amazing and fast paced. First you think everything is going well and then something goes terribly wrong. The danger isn't only from the zombies, but also the Wolves that attack in the middle of this zombie horde situation when Alexandria is vulnerable. The scenes are tragic, exciting, and emotional. Solid beginning.

* Carol

Carol always a delight to watch. I remember hating her first season, but she's grown so much since then that it's crazy. When they want to, the writers can actually develop their characters when they aren't writing manipulative bullshit. Carol goes into kill mode when the Wolves attack, even disguising herself as a Wolf to get around unnoticed. It takes an emotional toll on her and it's clear that she doesn't enjoy killing but will do so to survive. She goes through a whole crisis and tries to take the high road by leaving her enemies alive, but time and time again, she is forced to kill for the wellbeing of herself and her loved ones. There's a scene when the Saviors capture her and she starts to freak out. I thought it was an act to make them think she's more vulnerable than she is, but she was really panicked thinking about being forced to kill them. That episode was pretty meh except for Melissa McBride's amazing performance. Her folly in separating herself from the group leads to the discovery of another hopefully not insane settlement that have horses and armor.

* Morgan

I don't like Morgan's opinions and I think he's incredibly naive, but I respect him a lot. He is willing to disagree with Rick when everyone else kind of blindly follows him. Even when it's ignored, he voices his opinion on what is right. I think he's completely wrong and it's been shown over and over again throughout the course of the show that when you leave enemies alive, they will come back with a vengeance. Morgan is sincere and kind, even in the face of great opposition. It's nice to have a foil to Rick and someone to be the voice of reason and humanity. It's just sad that it's not plausible or realistic in practice.

* Sam and his family's death

In No Way Out, Sam has a panic attack in the middle of a horde of zombies (after seeing a zombie about his age) and is graphically eaten by zombies. Then his mother and brother are also eaten due to emotion and stupid actions. I personally had no issue with Sam's death. It was a bit gratuitous and it was the first time a child had been killed in full view of the camera, but it was realistic. He was abused and lived through a zombie apocalypse. It gets to anyone at any age, but if you act thoughtlessly as he did, you die.

Children's death in fiction seems to hit people in a vulnerable place and it causes them to overreact over fictional children dying. It essentially acts as censorship because of the huge outcry. Even now, very few films and TV shows will include children's deaths because of people's reactions even though they die just like everyone else. The characters are finding out time and time again that when they decide to spare instead of kill, those people come back to kill them. It's a game of survival that they simply won't win with mercy.

* Rick

Rick is always an interesting character. My favorite Rick scene is when he just killed the wannabe assassin at the Hilltop; he's covered in blood, looks at the horrified Hilltop people and says "What?: like it's totally normal to slaughter someone in front of their loved ones. His evolution from badass at the beginning to scared shitless at the end was amazing. I know a lot of people complained about their whole road trip encountering larger and more elaborate Savior blockades as they go, but I found it effective. It shows just how much power, people, and resources Negan has and completely destroyed Rick mentally before he even saw Negan. I'm eager to see his reaction next season.

* More moral quandaries

The episode Not Tomorrow Yet has Rick and his group being the aggressors for the first time in the series. The Saviors have butted heads with them a couple of times, but not escalated as much as Rick's decision to kill them while they sleep. Although it's obviously squicky to kill defenseless people, it's a good plan. I've seen fans act as if they are suddenly attacking unprovoked, but Daryl and a few others almost died when they were confronted on the road by Saviors. They also stole Daryl's bike, weapons, and supplies. They are extorting half of what a whole settlement makes to not kill them and they hold some hostage and murder a few people whenever it suits them. These are obviously bad guys, so it may be distasteful, but it's necessary if they want to secure victory.

* Negan

Jeffrey Dean Morgan is amazing. Whether he's a tragic patient on Grey's Anatomy or a morally grey superhero in Watchmen or a delightfully evil mastermind in The Walking Dead, he always manages to be somehow likeable and he commands attention whenever he's onscreen. Unfortunately, the anger around the season final cliffhanger obscured the fact that the whole season build up to Negan lives up to the hype. In the 5 or so minutes he's onscreen, he (accurately) pegs Carl as a future serial killer and takes his sweet time getting to his point. He shows he has all the power. He can kill every single one of them right now if he wants, but he won't because he wants them to work for him. This one death plus the road block tango shows how extensive his influence and resources are. Negan does it all with a smile and completely at ease. I look forward to seeing more of Negan in the next season. Hopefully we'll see how he is when things aren't going his way.

The Bad

* Denise's death

It is pretty despicable to kill this fairly innocuous lesbian character to give Darryl guilt. She hadn't been super present, but in terms of a minor characters had a pretty decent storyline. I get and even agree that anyone can die, but this is just dumb. Two characters (Denise and Eugene) who have very little skill and experience killing zombies just suddenly want to prove themselves and put themselves in danger for not very good reason despite never having an interest in it before. If Eugene died, no one would have really cared. Denise only died because she has a relationship with Tara and she isn't a major character. The comic books are all about how anyone can die, but the show makes it clear that Rick, Michonne, Daryl, and Maggie are all pretty safe. Denise was specifically killed to make that audience feel like Daryl is in danger without actually killing him off and pissing off a bunch of fans. It's a shit reason to kill off a character and a disservice to Denise and her development. It's only a small step forward from the writer's trick last season where a mostly absent character that no one cared about would get one episode of development right before they died just to make it hurt the audience more.

* Cliffhangers

I usually don't mind a good cliffhanger, but the way The Walking Dead does it is horrible. Glenn's fate was unclear at the end of episode 3. We see him surrounded by walkers with gore spurting everywhere with no indication that it's from him. I figured he wasn't dead, but his fate wasn't confirmed until episode 7. That's ridiculous. It went on so long that I didn't care that much anymore. That jumbo episode with Morgan was so annoying and pointless as a result because at that point everyone cared way more about Glenn and his fate. That sucks for Morgan and it sucks for the audience.

Then the season finale was complete bullshit as well. After a bloated episode that had way more commercials than interesting moments, there was no resolution for the audience. The comic book set up the perfect scene to end on (pictured below): Negan walking away from beaten to death Glenn and saying "Ta Ta" while everyone screamed and cried. Perfect. What we got was some unknown person dying that we won't know about until October. It's disingenuous to the audience and seems to be a ploy to keep viewers. It's one of the biggest shows on TV. It probably lost more viewers with this ending than if they just showing who died. The team has also been hyping this scene all season and it isn't even complete. Now the writers have the opportunity to change the victim if Glenn's death isn't seen favorably or maybe unfavorably enough. Gimple, one of the smug writers, stated on Talking Dead that it doesn't matter who died; what matters is that someone died. It does matter. No one will care if Aaron or Eugene dies quite honestly and the whole season build up and 6 month wait will be an even bigger let down than this season finale. For all of this to be worth it, a major character has to die or it's worthless. The whole thing is incredibly manipulative and the audience deserves better.

I hope the writers learn something from this season and actually give the audience more. If this goes on, I might just stop watching again, but I like a lot of the season despite the flaws. The show has gotten loads better since I stopped watching the first time (right in the middle of the Governor's second season), but if the writers don't wise up, their audience might not be quite so vast in future seasons.

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