The Walking Dead Needs to Stop Separating Its Main Characters

Monday, 21 November 2016 - 10:57AM
The Walking Dead
Reviews
Monday, 21 November 2016 - 10:57AM
The Walking Dead Needs to Stop Separating Its Main Characters
Last week, we said that TWD had reached a new low (again), but we're sorry to say we might have cried wolf. We were hopeful after the delightful introduction of Ezekiel and the Kingdom that the show would turn things around, but last night's episode was one of the most boring episodes in recent memory.

Right now, it feels like the show is spinning its wheels until all of the communities team up for All-Out War, which is par for the course for TWD at this point. For the past three years or so, every season has followed the same formula: deliver a huge emotional punch in the premiere, separate the main characters into smaller, more manageable groups, make the audience sit through five to seven filler episodes, including a couple of pseudo-artsy standalones, and then bring them all back together for the midseason finale. Then repeat this process for the second half of the season. 
 
The problem is, TWD doesn't have enough characters we genuinely care about for this formula to work. There will inevitably be several episodes about underwritten characters that the audience either actively hates or occasionally forgets about. Case in point: Carl and Sasha. Like most of the main characters on this show, Carl and Sasha are both gearing up for revenge plots against Negan. After sharing a first kiss with Enid (whatever), Carl decides to go after Negan by himself. Because of course he does. There is the potential for the Carl/Negan dynamic from the comics to develop, which could infuse some fresh energy into the show. But then again, Jesus ends up in the back of the same truck as Carl when Sasha brings him into her terrible revenge plan, so we could be looking at a Jesus/Carl dynamic instead. I could actually see that working pretty well, so it should be something to look forward to either way.
 
One thing this episode makes very clear is that if the characters succeed in an assassination attempt, the Saviors are threatening enough on their own to almost guarantee a war either way. Simon, in his "We are Negan" mentality, was a great stand-in for Negan this episode, and would likely be able to rally the Saviors if Negan was out of the picture. That being said, if any assassination attempts fail, Negan is going to make everyone else pay very, very dearly.  
 
Meanwhile Maggie, rather than focusing on ill-fated vengeance plots, is thinking like a leader and looking at the bigger picture. Maggie's destiny in the show looks like it'll follow the comics, and she might be taking on that leadership role sooner rather than later. Maggie punching Gregory in the face was by far the most satisfying moment of the episode. Hopefully, this means that his reign as the grumpy, racist leader of the Hilltop is almost at an end. One thing worth noting is that if Maggie takes charge, Negan will find out that Father Gabriel lied about her death. But if that ends up being the end of "creepy" Gabriel, it's doubtful he'll be missed.
 
This episode was completely lackluster, and illustrated that the show is at its weakest when its characters are stranded in their own undercooked subplots. Next week promises another long standalone special, which, unfortunately, probably won't be any better. Standalone episodes can be great when they truly develop a character or contribute to world-building, but TWD's standalone episodes haven't done either of those things in quite a while. The rebellion against Negan should serve to bring them all together right in time for the midseason finale, but in the meantime, the show is continuing to suffer by separating storylines that don't have enough substance on their own. 

Speaking of which, next week's episode follows Heath and Tara, whom we haven't seen since last season's finale (and neither of whom are very well-developed characters to begin with). Given that they aren't aware that Negan's forces are still at large, it could be an interesting episode, but we probably can't expect much in the way of excitement until All-Out War.



Best Lines and Stray comments:

 
Sasha: "He's an idiot." Maggie: "He's a coward. They're more dangerous."
 
"Honey, I'm talking to Jesus."
 
"Not Marsha, not dear, not honey. Maggie. Maggie Rhee."
 
*What are the chances that Carl would find roller skates in a suitcase by the side of the road? Who, when fleeing their home during a zombie apocalypse, would decide to use up half of the room in their bag by packing two pairs of roller skates? No wonder they didn't survive long.
Science Fiction
Sci-Fi TV Shows
The Walking Dead
Reviews