That does it, I’m putting a bullet in this zombie of a series right now.
Sorry folks, but I’m out. After a lack-luster second half of season four, and a finale that has left my in awe (but not in the good way), I think I’m finally done. The Walking Dead was one of those shows that, at first, I wasn’t too sure about. I’ve never really been into the latest zombie/vampire/werewolf fad that has swept pop culture over the last few years. However, after some coaxing from my wife, I found myself truly intrigued with the series. It started off with great momentum (with the time spent on the farm providing some of the most memorable moments), and seemed to climb higher and higher.
But then things seemed to level off…followed by a steep and sudden nose dive into our current episodes.
Before I get to my personal reasons regarding why my DVR probably won’t be set for season five, I am willing to admit that I may be in the minority here. By all accounts, The Walking Dead is not only AMC’s biggest cash cow right now; it’s one of the biggest hits on television. In the category of “must-see,” it’s right at the top with the likes of Sons of Anarchy and Game of Thrones. In fact, Sunday’s finale set new records (as well as the after show). According a recent press release, it garnered “…15.7 million viewers and 10.2 million adults 18-49. The dramatic episode anchored a record-breaking night on AMC, with the live “Talking Dead” after show delivering a series record 7.3 million viewers and 4.7 million adults 18-49…Hosted by Chris Hardwick, the most-watched “Talking Dead” episode in series history featured Executive Producer and showrunner Scott Gimple and, for the first time on the show, Andrew Lincoln.” It reads.
While I believe in giving credit where credit is due (as the series certainly deserves its props), there’s a few key reasons why it’s just not doing it for me anymore.
WARNING: Walkers and season finale spoilers ahead…
I think it’s important to address an underlying problem with the series right from the jump. As with anything, things are typically only scary or intimidating when they’re new. The fear of the unknown is a powerful tool, as it can help easily build suspense. In the early days, Walkers were a serious threat that we’d never really seen before (at least not in a hit episodic television show). However, after a while, the cast started treating them as a mild-annoyance. From casually sticking a knife through a fence to avoiding them all together, the threat level in the audiences’ eyes simply dropped off after a while. The writers attempted to replace this threat with the human condition (making our fellow man the biggest danger), but I’ve never found this obstacle to be quite as captivating as the danger of the outbreak. Eventually, we found the same formula occurring every episode: go on a run, kill a Walker or two, make it back to camp…wash…rinse…repeat. While new plot twist were thrown in here or there (like the Governor or the epidemic at the prison), things seemed to follow the same script outline from show to show.
Season four started out differently. In fact, it was the second half (or what they called the “back eight”) that promised to really shake things up. Unfortunately, these episodes did little more than drag out unnecessary character arches (Daryl becomes friends with Beth, Carol admits to Tyrese she killed Karen, Maggie finally finds Glen, etc). I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt going into the finale, as I thought that perhaps the arrival at Terminus would blow things up in a big way (setting the stage for a great premiere later in the year).
But that didn’t happen. By the end of the episode, our entire cast is left locked in a train car with their thumbs up their butts. Rick’s final threat that “…they’ve screwed with the wrong people” is pretty silly, considering he has no gun, no way out and no control over what happens to them next. I found it to be pretty uninteresting. The suspense level was left at around 0.0 going into the lull of their next production period, which is appropriate as it perfectly mirrors the second half of season four we just saw. Nothing much happened there either.
I’m sure those who’ve already read the comics may be ready to explode in a rage, touting how the show is building to something great. “The train car conclusion was necessary,” you might say. Frankly, that may be true of the comics, but this is TV. In many ways, the mid-season break (where the Governor cuts off Herschel’s head) should have been last season’s conclusion. That way, the Terminus incident could have happened sooner (as what we’ve seen over the last few weeks would easily condense down into two or three episodes). It definitely would have helped move us along a little faster and not end on such a flat note.
Aside from Shane somehow dragging his big undead ass inside that train car, I don’t foresee much regaining my interest. The source of the outbreak was my last bastion of hope, but at this point, I’m not sure I care that much anymore.