The Walking Dead and I have a tumultuous relationship that I think plenty of other viewers will relate to. There must be something good about it. Why else would I watch hour upon hour of people either walking somewhere or chatting shit?
Over the years a definitive pattern has emerged. Great openings leading to a period of inactivity. Just as everyone gets bored the mid-season finale kicks things up a notch. We then get the same again for the back end of the season. It’s like the show is testing us and knows how far to push us.
That style may have run its course if the US viewing figures are anything to go by, with millions fewer tuning in each week.
So how is Season 7 looking at the midway point? Actually, is it really midway? There are more than eight episodes after Christmas aren’t there? I digress…
Muddled is the best word I can come up with.
Overall I’ve liked it but there are some big problems.
Extra length episodes? Complete waste of time. Rather than give us more time to explore characters or make sense of things they just seem to pad out the running time so another commercial break can be added in. Think back to every longer episode this season. They could all have been standard length and not lost anything.
This is compounded by episodes that concentrated on one character. The shining example is Tara. I like her; she’s funny and seems to be one of the more realistic characters in the show. But does she have enough about her to hold up 60 minutes? I’d probably struggle to just watch Rick for that long so no she does not.
The mid-season finale itself shows us that TWD can still juggle multiple threads in one episode, providing a greater feeling of activity. It’s still very talky but at least something feels like it’s happening.
We’re now left in a position where (and I can’t really avoid spoilers so be aware), where the main gang is back together and there should be a big push to gather up the communities and provide a united front to the Saviours. On one hand would the finale have had the same emotional and somewhat cathartic response if we hadn’t had the slow build up with Negan and the struggles surrounding the scattered group? Rather than complaining about things taking too long would we be saying it was rushed? Maybe. A bit less greed and some tighter focus on the story at hand would have been better either way.
I was wondering why the group were all trying to find their own ways of dealing with Negan but then I realised that they were fractured both physically and mentally. The events of the mid-season finale served to bring them all onto the same path. That was the episode’s biggest strength and something that made the preceding episodes make a lot more sense.
For all its problems this has been one of the stronger openings for me. A lot of that is down to Negan and the challenge he provides. The main selling point of the show is watching Rick and Co surmount the challenges they find. They’ve had a very hard time of it in this first half so fingers crossed watching them rally will be exciting and not exercise in dealing with tedium. I’ve had enough of castrated Rick and now it looks like we’re back to bad ass Rick. Wooo!
Am I just a glutton for punishment? Perhaps.
But I’m not walking away from The Walking Dead just yet.