This post contains many spoilers of The Walking Dead. Govern yourselves accordingly.
And now, today’s installment of Coffee with Laura Leigh:
Oh The Walking Dead. TWD. My dear, sweet, walker-skull crushing television show. Why have you forsaken me? Remember when we first met? You captured my heart with those words, “Don’t Open, Dead Inside.” What a fond moment that was.
We’ve had our struggles over the years. I still don’t understand why character after character never saves a bullet for themselves. Walkers are closing in, there is literally no escape, and yet for some reason being chewed up and ripped apart is always the better option. And those walls around Alexandria. What brain trust puts up protective walls with reinforcements on the outside? Oh and that church on the outside? Even without the truck crashing into it, it was half burned down. Could no one foresee its eventual collapse? Why wouldn’t you tear it down? Deanna so proudly told Rick that her husband, a former professor of architecture, designed those walls. A former professor of architecture. Really, Deanna? Did you marry Mike Brady? Because that was some piss-poor designing. And I could seriously write an entire post about Carl and that hat.
Sigh. It’s so silly, isn’t it? These things that annoy me as being unrealistic about a television show centered around a zombie apocalypse? Yeah.
Anyway, this is all stuff I could easily overlook because everything else was so great. Amazing characters and great story telling always kept me coming back for more. But then season 6 happened. And I don’t know. I just don’t know if I can come back for season 7.
There was no definitive death (or fake death) during season 6 that resulted in the sting of betrayal. No particular event or episode. It was simply the culmination of an entire season fraught with inconsistencies. The pacing was off, the characters behaved in bizarre manners, and the constant hype of each episode with little to no delivery of what was promised. These were the things that began to wobble the pedestal.
This show has had pacing issues in the past. A lot of fans didn’t like how long our group was on the Greene farm in season 2. And I can see why people got bored. There wasn’t a great deal of walker killing that season. I love a good walker-tearing-in-half-in-a-well scene as much as the next person, but the slower pace of season 2 worked for me. We were still getting to know a lot of the characters and the group not having to constantly fight off biters allowed for that. I grew to either love most of them or really, really dislike a few of them.
But the pacing in season 6 just got weird. They started out strong. The first three episodes were the fast paced, action packed type that The Walking Dead is so great at delivering. I knew that leading thousands of walkers out of the quarry was going to go awry at some point and the build up to that in the first episode was good. We found out in the very next episode where the horn was coming from and what was happening back in Alexandria. And it all lead up nicely to the big fake out of Glenn’s death at the end of episode 3. Of course we didn’t know at the time it was a fake out. But all in all, a kick ass start to the season.
And then we got the slow down episode. The one where we take a break from the constant nail biting, edge of your seat action to recover from the trauma the previous episodes inflicted upon us. But what they gave us this time just didn’t work. “Here Not Here” wasn’t the breather episode I’m used to from this series. It was excruciatingly slow. I love Morgan. He’s one of my favorites. I like how he’s going to try to make it through this world without killing another human. It’s an interesting angle. But his journey to becoming a Jedi did not necessitate an entire episode. It was information that could have easily been covered in a few flashbacks. In the end, this felt like nothing but filler.
I watched again the following week believing I would get some kind of resolution on Glenn. But no. Nothing. In fact, we had to wait three more episodes (three!) before finding out if Glenn was dead or under the dumpster. And at that point, I didn’t care anymore. They waited too long. Plus, I still don’t buy that whole scenario completely. He really didn’t even get a scratch? Come on.
During the in between time, we got to watch the Alexandrians finally come face to face with walkers. And many of them got eaten. Thankfully. Yeah I know. That sounds horrible. But I really didn’t like many in that group. Except for Aaron and Denise, the rest of them were nothing but walker bait for me. I think it’s because we got to know Aaron before the others were introduced. We got to see him in action against walkers and interacting with our core group. And Denise actually had some depth. Of course that meant she had to die later. But I liked that even though she was riddled with anxiety, she was able to start pulling her shit together to save people. Because once again it was needed for Carl.
Oh, Carl. This was a moment that had been anticipated by many of the graphic novel readers. I was happy it was in Greg Nicotero’s capable hands. This is where he shines. The man knows how to pace an episode. He starts off with that slow build, like you’re creeping up the first hill of a roller coaster. Your heart is pounding, you’re nervous as hell. There are literally walkers everywhere and you can try to anticipate what’s about to happen, but you’re just not sure. And then as you crest the hill, there’s that brief moment when time seems to slow down. When Carl raises his head and there’s a hole where his eye used to be and it’s dripping with blood and you just say “oh shit.” Then time speeds up and you’re racing toward the earth as Rick is once again desperately trying to get his wounded son to safety. And Michonne is slicing and dicing her way through walkers to clear a path! Yeah!
That’s just total bad assery right there. And it’s all it took to draw me back in.
I was excited for the next episode. Even though I figured it would be another breather episode, I felt like it was needed. I mean, Carl just lost his damn eye! But uh, what exactly was going on in that next episode? Can anyone tell me? Because I still don’t know. Some fans seemed to like it because of the light-hearted, buddy-cop vibe going on between Rick and Daryl. And I’ll admit, it was funny. But its placement at this point in the season didn’t fit. We were expected to make this two month timeline leap with them and after the prior week’s episode, I just couldn’t do it. And the only reason I knew it was two months later was because Danai Gurira told us on The Talking Dead. Other than that, the only indication from the actual episode that a lot of time had passed was Carl’s eye had healed. Had “No Way Out” been the mid-season finale and this episode the mid-season premiere, it would’ve made a bit more sense. At least timing-wise.
But a lot of the actions of characters in this episode seemed kind of insulting. Not to the audience so much, but to the characters themselves. Obviously our group is still in need of supplies because Rick and Daryl go out on what was probably the most bizarre run in this series. They return with nothing, but that’s happened before so not unrealistic. It’s their attitudes that made it so strange. What was that all about? Oh Michonne, here are some breath mints instead of toothpaste. Hahaha. Because the toothpaste we needed is now at the bottom of a lake. Hahaha! Isn’t that hilarious? Oh yeah, and there was this dude named Jesus who tried stealing the truck full of stuff and thangs and it’s because of him that it’s now all water logged. Hahaha! And instead of killing him, we brought him back to Alexandria! Hahaha, aren’t Rick and Daryl just so silly? HAHAHA…haha…ha…ha…no. I don’t buy this at all. I’m not saying they can’t have fun. And I understand they might’ve relaxed a bit from living the posh life in Alexandria for the last two months. But only a bit. We have witnessed them go through hell and back and teeter on the edge of sanity countless times. There is no way they would be this reckless and just so “meh, whatever” about losing an entire truck full of supplies. Try again. (Not even the adorableness of Richonne could save this one.)
But hey we’ll get to meet Negan next, so that will make this totally worth it, right? I’ve been waiting most of the season for this! I mean, John Winchester is Negan, how could I not be excited? And we’ll get to see him soon! Yay! Except no. No, we won’t. Because for the second time, they totally Glenn us. But instead of three episodes, it takes six. Six, before we finally get to see the man who has been touted all this time as being worse than the Governor.
And in those six episodes they gave us an Abraham/Sasha/Rosita love triangle with Abraham breaking up with Rosita. (Did anyone else realize these two were even a couple before this episode?) We have our group attacking The Saviors in exchange for food and supplies from Hilltop (hello? because this is what happens when you don’t take runs seriously, Rick and Daryl!). And of course many of our group get taken hostage by Negan’s people (because attacking them was obviously going to end well.) We get some glimpses of Negan’s personality here and there. He likes killing. A lot.
But eventually we get there. The finale. We get to meet Negan, even if we have to wait almost the whole episode to do it. And one of our group, one of these characters we love so much is going to meet Lucille. Well after this long speech that Negan has to make, that is. He must have practiced in front of a mirror for a long time with that speech. Like he’s DeNiro or something. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is bad ass though, isn’t he? Oh, he’s going to do it! He’s picked someone! He’s swinging Lucille! This is it!
Ummmm. What? Are you serious right now? That’s what we get after waiting so long? Again for the umpteenth time this season, we got nothing like we were promised. Sure Negan is worse than the Governor. You gave us that. You added some cool sound effects after the fade to black so we know he kept bludgeoning the chosen one. But that’s how you decided to end the season, huh? Not even gonna tell us who he chose. Oh, ok. Well you know what? That hurts, Walking Dead. It really hurts.
And before anyone says anything, yes I understand how cliffhangers work. I was a huge fan of Lost and that show was king of the constant cliffhanger. This very type actually. Where you’re left with a “what the hell was that?!” kind of feeling. And on any other show, it works. But not for you, TWD. Not you! You’re better than this! I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!
Whew, glad I got that out (thanks, Tyra). But let’s be serious here for a moment. Every other season finale of this show has given us an amazing mix of both cliffhanger and closure. Even when our group was separated or being attacked by walkers or locked in a boxcar, we knew who had survived and who hadn’t. The only exception to this was Beth at the end of season 4. But there was so much else going on, not knowing her fate didn’t make that much of a difference. You had your formula and it worked. Changing it this season felt like a slap in the face.
I don’t like change. As you can probably tell.
So after much deliberation, I’ve decided the only way I would come back is, oh my god I can’t believe I’m about to type this, but the only way is if Michonne was the one who met Lucille. OMG! WHY DID I JUST SAY THAT? HAVE I GONE MAD? I’M SO SORRY, MICHONNE! I LOVE YOU!
I really do love her. I love Michonne and Rick together. I love that she has been a better mother to Carl than Lori ever was. (Because you can be damn sure had she been around in season 2, Carl would have stayed in that fucking house!) She’s found her happy place with Rick and Carl and Judith. But as we all know too well, there is no happy in walker world. I really don’t want her to die.
But it’s for these very reasons that maybe she should. Writers kill beloved characters to see the impact it has on other characters. How they react can propel a story into dramatically new directions. And just imagine the impact of her death. Not just on Rick and the rest of the group, but on Carl. Carl is young and even though he’s had to deal with a lot of bad crap already, there is so much of his character that can still be molded. If he were to lose Michonne? Man. That would open a lot of potential for him to truly wander Crazytown. And oh what fun that could be.
The biggest thing I don’t want to see leading up to season 7 is the silly hype and promotion that was going on during season 6. It became dare I say, click-baity. Oh how I hate that term. But that’s what it was. Promo after promo (usually on The Talking Dead) of “you’re not going to believe who is going to die next!” or “a major character will meet their end on the next episode!” And then I watched and it wasn’t a major character. It was some underdeveloped, peripheral character who I didn’t care about and whose death had no impact on the dynamic of the group or its members. Case in point, Jessie and her lot. Her death had zero impact on Rick. And he was supposed to be her boyfriend or something.
Newsflash promotion department, you don’t need that kind of silliness. You were the highest rated television show for the fourth straight year. And it wasn’t because of promotion. It was because you have a loyal fanbase. Fans who, despite all of the letdowns this season, kept coming back. Only to be let down again. But I’m so invested in these characters it felt wrong to walk away mid-season.
TWD, you’re breaking my heart. You’re going down a path I can’t follow. I don’t want to let go yet. I really don’t. But I will, if I have to.
So it goes, as I sat writing out all of these feels, I allowed my iced coffee to sit unnoticed for too long. It is now a flavorless byproduct of too much liquefied ice. It barely resembles the almost perfect concoction of caramel, coffee, and milk it once was. Et tu, Starbucks?
Until next time, my bloggity friends. Peace, love, and all that good stuff.
Next time on Coffee with Laura Leigh: Migraines and the Daith Piercing