The Walking Dead Has Become a Zombified Version of Itself

Monday, 05 December 2016 - 12:49PM
The Walking Dead
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Monday, 05 December 2016 - 12:49PM
The Walking Dead Has Become a Zombified Version of Itself
Negan said it best: "You know the deal, what's going to happen. It's going to be hard to watch." The Walking Dead has been spinning its wheels like nobody's business, and every week we think they might turn it around, and every week we're wrong. We were hoping the dynamic between Negan and Carl would inject fresh life into the quickly zombifying series, but we were sorely disappointed. 

A highlight of the comics is the relationship between Negan and Carl, which could have been used in the show to add some much-needed dimension to both characters. The scenes between Negan and Carl were interesting enough, but were too poorly executed for an entire episode to hinge on. Negan's supposed fascination with Carl comes from the fact that he's both a vulnerable child and a badass with a lot of nerve. The problem is that Carl isn't well-developed enough as a character to represent either of those things. Crying about his appearance in front of Negan didn't give Carl any added complexity, and instead seemed entirely inconsistent with his character. This is the same kid who grew up in the apocalypse, who shot his own mother's corpse in the head, who killed two Saviors on sight just 10 minutes before that scene. Being upset that his injury impairs him is one thing, but I doubt he would be overly concerned with his looks.

Speaking of Carl's inconsistent badassery, why didn't he try to kill Negan? Once he'd already killed two Saviors, it was odd that he hesitated just because Negan used another Savior as a human shield. Either our newly minted cold-blooded killer lost his nerve when he saw Negan, or it was just another contrivance so we can listen to Negan give a long-winded speech for the umpteenth time.
 
But Carl wasn't the only guilty party in all of this. Negan's efforts to convert Carl to the Dark Side fell flat, probably because he continues to be a fairly one-note bully of a villain. As a result, Negan's efforts came across a lot like a school PSA reminding kids not to buy drugs from smarmy sketchy guys in leather jackets. The episode tried to add some nuance to Negan by having him take a liking to Carl, to the point that he actually apologizes for teasing Carl about his empty eye socket. That being said, the sympathetic villain angle doesn't work when you're despicable enough to have a harem, burn the flesh off of people's faces, and (as we learned last week) ransack a village, killing every man and boy over ten years old. So why would it matter to Negan that Carl's "just a kid" when he's killed and brutalized many other teenagers?
 
Although I'd hoped for some character growth this week, Carl still hasn't learned the art of subtly when plotting against your enemies. His "nerve" amounted to sheer stupidity, bad judgment, and petty outbursts that resulted in leading Negan straight to Judith. (And let's not even talk about how stupidly Michonne and Rosita behaved this week.) Despite being one of the more interesting episodes of the season, "Sing me a Song" still managed to be almost as slow and painful as Mark getting half his face melted off. The Walking Dead desperately needs to liven things up, especially since their ratings have hit a four-year low, but it continues to do the opposite. For now, the show itself remains the ultimate zombie analogy, dragging its feet and continuing to fall apart long after it should have been pronounced dead.
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