I’m frustrated with The Walking Dead.
It’s an overall frustration, born not only of the episodes run thus far but with how one character in particular is being portrayed in this seventh season.
The Episode Problem
The premiere (“The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be” ) was an overlong bloodbath tainted with a virulent case of “too much” of everything: Too over the top, too gruesome, too much Negan. Episode 2 (“The Well”), while enjoyable because of Carol and Morgan, was rather cheesy in its introduction of King Ezekiel and The Kingdom, far from TWD’s finest moment. The Daryl story of the third chapter of the season (“The Cell”) was the only episode I really got into, despite its depressing, difficult-to-watch subject matter. And that led to “Service,” a dreary exercise in excess not only in story but in length.
Well before the end of “Service” I was asking myself what The Powers That Be at TWD were thinking in prolonging the installment to a 90 minute drudge-fest instead of a usual 60 minute airing. There was exactly zero reason for extending the amount of time to tell its story.
And, at the conclusion of “Service” was precisely the time my thoughts really kicked in about the disgruntlement I was feeling well into the seventh season of the show.
“THAT was the episode they thought should be 1.5 hours?” one of my good friends asked. That sentiment rang true with several other folks I’ve talked with about that particular episode, too. I found lots of common ground in such thinking I discovered over the course of days following its airing, justifying my uneasiness about where TWD was headed.
Add to that TWD’s jumping around to the various characters’ stories and locales and it’s hard to get a grip on where things are leading, something that’s often tough when you’re trying to hold someone’s attention. (In this case, that of the fans.) Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Currently, five episodes in, it’s verging on the irritating. If it keeps on this same course, people are really going to gnash their teeth at the fracturedness of it all.
Still, I’m a big fan of the show, through thick and thin. (Note: The “thin” is really coming across right now.)
The Character Problem
Another big problem is something everyone was so excited about seeing: Negan. Finally getting a goodly amount of him in all his grandeur both in actual screen time and through word of mouth from his lackeys, it turns out he’s not “all that” after all. His character is equal parts clownish, grotesque and difficult to read wrapped up in a facade that doesn’t translate well.
Which is a glaring point in need of mention right here: Plain and simple, the Negan of The Walking Dead comics simply isn’t translating well as a television character. What worked on the printed page very well is stumbling and stutter-stepping as a fleshed-out characterization on our television screens. And he’s not doing the other characters any favors when he interacts with them, either. Yes, Negan was as over the top in his comic arc as he is depicted on AMC right now. But something is lost in the interpretation from page to screen. It’s a different vibe in color and action than it is in static black and white. And it’s something difficult to describe if you haven’t read the stories the show is based on. It’s a true and conscious understanding fans of both mediums will understand; watchers of the show only don’t have a point of reference.
As the sadistic, laughable Bozo Nose (and I use that term sarcastically) currently unfolding episode to episode without shame week to week, you’re either in the camp of Negan Love or Negan Hate on some level or another. I don’t love the character but I don’t out and out hate him, either. I dislike him … and not for what he represents. For the way in which The Walking Dead is depicting him, for the reasons I’ve mentioned here and in past posts.
So Where Do We Go From Here?
The nice thing about the show is there are eleven more episodes remaining until its main hiatus. And, as anyone who follows it knows, anything can happen. That’s part of the beauty of The Walking Dead.
If you have the wherewithal to hold out over this rough patch, the reward good be worth the wait.
- “Go Getters” was a bit of a breath of fresh air in light of what has come before. Yes, we jumped yet again to another locale – this time the Hilltop Colony – but it was familiar ground with interesting twists. Those twists included some key characters.
- Maggie is just as badass as Carol at times. More so given the precarious nature of her injury. I had to laugh at her sucker punch to Gregory.
- Gregory is a weaselly, whining, cowardly opportunist. And he’ll make for some nifty upcoming drama.
- Jesus, good soldier that he is, picked a good time to step up in the scheme of things. It wasn’t much but it was the right time to advance the story of other characters … especially Maggie.
- Enid, and even Carl for that matter, were actually likable on this latest episode. Their roller skating “date” verged on the cheesy as did their kiss but it was nice little side step to all the pervasive doom and gloom the show fosters.
- Over the top though it might have been (though less so than Jeffery Dean Morgan’s Negan) I enjoyed Steven Ogg strutting his stuff and showing off his tail feathers as Simon in the episode.
On the next episode of The Walking Dead
What do you think of the season thus far? Has the show completely jumped the shark? Tell us in the comments below. We want to hear from you!