By Chris Hutchings
Based on arguably one of the best/most diverse comics of all time, The Walking Dead is a name imprinted into the entertainment history, both for the right and wrong reasons. Love it or hate it, there’s just no avoiding it.
With the conclusion of its sixth season having aired on April 3rd of this year, the media explodes as it always does, with The Walking Dead never failing to provide a talking point. For many fans (like myself), “Last Day on Earth” was painstakingly harsh to watch through, as we were all waiting for that shocking moment that keeps us on the edge of our seats for half a year. And boy, did they do just that! Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) finally arrived and silenced the doubters with a stellar performance, intimidating the main protagonist Rick (Andrew Lincoln), right down to his very knees. The elongated, tense scene at the end where Negan looks down on our grovelling main characters, as the main man taunts each and every one of them, felt like a personal threat to the audience. After learning how much of an asshole he really is, he decides to go one step further and play a good game of ‘eenie-meenie-miney-dead’. Unfortunately, Rick’s motley crew of savages cannot beat Negan at his own game, and one of them gets to meet the wrath of Negan’s lady; Lucille (does the baseball bat actor have a name?). After witnessing a dark head bashing from a strange angle, the audience really do feel like they have been hit in the head, when the victim is unknown and the first name on the credits flashes on to their screams (not of delight). Poor Chris Hardwick (host of the after-show, Talking Dead) for having to be the first face that people see after such a stressful episode.
Real fans simply cannot wait without guessing who the victim was, and I myself have a pretty convincing theory. Though that is for another time. But apart from this final scene, I really HATED the episode. Not just because of the cliffhanger, but because of the media and the episode’s build up to *that* scene from the comics, and to have it cut to black without a definitive conclusion end to the story arc buggered me. Though Scott Gimple (showrunner of The Walking Dead) stated that “the kickback effects from that, what it makes everyone into, how people react, how the world changes for everyone, that’s the next part of the story”, it does feel like the fans have been cheated into coming back for more in some way, that being Season 7 (airing October 2016). However, I’m going to give you peeps a few solid reasons why not giving up on the TV series is a good idea.
1. Chances are, you’re already invested in the series.
If there’s an episode of a TV series that can completely make you lose interest in 6 seasons of decent content, it certainly wasn’t this one. Granted, it is the worst rated episode on iMDb (scoring 5.3/10), but it could’ve been much worse. It didn’t have anything so drastically different or obnoxious like aliens arriving on Earth, or Rick speaking in his native British accent (c’mon Rick, we all heard it in Season 5). If you’ve spent valuable time to follow the story, characters and the nature of the zombie apocalypse on The Walking Dead, you’d be over-reacting by abandoning it, because the chances are most people don’t have NFC. No matter how many people slander The Walking Dead for its slow episodes or its ability for characters to hide under wheelie bins (this one is you, Gimple), the series can be incredibly captivating as it shows the regression of characters from low points to their very lowest point, where many struggle to stand up again without getting shot in the head out of mercy. The Walking Dead can be so harsh and brutal, and while some of its content may be anti-climactic, there’s always decent episodes which revitalised your hope in the direction of the series, by either giving you a philosophical, borderline psychological episode (“Here’s Not Here”), an action packed episode (“No Way Out”) or a mish-mash of both (“The Same Boat”). Leaving now would give yourself a lack of closure to an ever-growing ensemble group of characters.
2. An epic story line is nearly upon us.
One thing the TV series has failed to do after 6 seasons is to present an audience with a long, ongoing conflict that has beckoned for your return to your couch week in-week out. Yes, we had that psychotic one-eyed, illegitimate time traveler (David Morrissey) – I don’t expect everyone to get that reference – who always had a presence of swaggering ubiquity in every episode of Season 3, but never a constant conflict that lead to a major war. Due to the show’s newly reinvigorated loyalty to the source material, a war is imminent, that will prove the new big bad to be much more than a one season wonder for The Walking Dead. The upcoming story arcs that the TV series are set to follow depict Alexandria and the other communities (Hilltop and those medieval-esque knights) in an all out war against the Saviors, which leads to the death of many characters. However, this arc also includes a dreadlocked man and his obedient tiger on Rick’s side, so there’s always doubts that the tiger won’t be so obedient on the TV series. Let’s hope Gimple is his first meal on set.
Excuse me for straying away from the point, but I found this point in the comics to be the most nail-biting, tense moments in the entire franchise, as there was a chance that ANYBODY could die. Don’t like the Negan character? Stick with the TV series and you’ll learn to love him and hate him, for the wickedly humourous things he does for your entertainment. From what I’ve seen so far, the cast and crew are set to bring justice to Negan and the All Out War arc that Robert Kirkman (creator and writer of The Walking Dead comics).
3. This TV series could last a whole lot more than 6 seasons.
Face it, The Walking Dead is an unstoppable force when it comes to ratings. Many of the other TV series simply cannot keep up with The Walking Dead’s media attention and ratings that it gets weekly over those 16 weeks. This means that The Walking Dead has been popularised so much, that the idea of it giving up on it’s legacy soon would seem a stupid decision for the network, in a business sense. However, I do think that some people might get bored by the projection of the series if it carries on how it has been doing since Season 4, and that second half that certified that the name The Walking Dead is justified. But, many fans have lived through rough spots in the TV series, and in a financial sense, it would be good business for AMC to keep getting The Walking Dead to produce episodes. The franchise is a money machine that is worth too many digits for its own good, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The quality of actors and realistic features in the walkers design/CGI would improve substantially if it has 20+ seasons under its belt. The writers want you to be along for the ride, and not having to judge whether you can watch another 42 minute episode week-in, week-out. For most TV fans, this shouldn’t be a problem for their favourite TV, which is something The Walking Dead needs to maintain.