I spent an hour on the phone with my brother-in-law tonight and we ran down the usual topics like how he just can’t catch a break with his professional sports teams — Cleveland Indians and Atlanta Falcons. He humored me as I blabbed about the Utah Jazz and what they may or may not do heading into the trade deadline. We talked a little about our kids and the Trump administration. Then we talked about the Walking Dead.
I got into the Walking Dead a little over a year ago. I had watched the first half of the first episode a long time ago but never finished. During Christmas break last year, I resumed the episode on Netflix and then got sucked into it like Barb in the Upside Down (different show). School started in early January, so I had to cram as many episodes in as I could. I watched three or four, or sometimes more, a day, mostly at nights, like late, late nights. I would wake up worn out and plop down in the shower. My wife would sit on the toilet — usually on top of the lid — and listen to me relay what was happening with Rick and Carl and Shane and how Dale went down and then the time Rick had to carry Carl to the farm where they patched him up and the near escapes and the times when they weren’t so lucky. She was into the storylines but was not about to watch any show about zombies — I’ve tried and tried. Big Arrested Development fan though.
Every day and night I had something pulling me back into Netflix, something scratching at me like Morgan’s wife on the front door in Season 1. Some danger or some tension wrestled in my guts while I was away from the series. How would they get out of this one? Would they find the girl? How would they take that group down? I caught up seasons 1-5 and half of 6 before the midseason premiere on Valentine’s Day last year. And I don’t know if the show is just better binged or if the direction of the show has worn me out.
One thing is for sure, I need Rick to be a badass. As I crammed through those first five and a half seasons, it forced me to think about what I would do or what I could do if I had to carry my son on foot across the forest or through the mountains. When I went to the gym, I thought about what muscles I would need most during a zombie apocalypse, or say a natural disaster. I understand there are things that happen in the show that cause a man to want to slow down, to withdraw, to become a farmer. I get that trauma will do that, but how many times should that have to happen before realizing, the world’s gonna need Rick Grimes, specifically the Rick Grimes who will take on a village full of walkers by himself if he has to, the Rick Grimes that makes the hard decisions because he knows he has to — I’d really like to teach the difference between passive and active voice in writing using the two Rick Grimes.
But right now, Rick — who’s coming out of it — is only a part of the problem. The main problems are there is no tension, no danger, no characters. Walkers are mere props — Joseph Conrad could write a whole book while ignoring them. The undead, not even in herds, evidenced by Rick and Michonne’s highway to hell montage from an episode or two back, are no threat. At first Neegan was a boogey man, but what fear or threat is there now? We can’t worry about him gaining control of Rick and the crew; he already has complete control. We don’t fear him killing any of Rick’s crew. Right now I don’t care for any of them. We went from Dale, Shane, T-Dog, Lori, Beth, Tyreese, Herschel, Glenn and Abraham to who? Aaron? A neutered Morgan and his female counterpart Carol? Sasha? Tara? Tara of all people? How did she become a main character? How did she not look down one episode and notice that some walker had crawled up and took a bite out of her calf? She had her own episode! And Jesus? Jesus came on as a comic book favorite and had one episode where Benny Hill-ed around Daryl and Rick as they chased. As disappointed as people have been in Neegan, they can’t be any more pleased with Jesus.
Carol is my biggest beef. Just like Rick, she’s already gone through this “boohoo I just can’t do it anymore” phase. Just like, at some point, she’ll march up to the Kingdom and say, “Yo, we’re gonna kill every last one of these m***********s.” There was a time when I felt so sure about Carol that if something were to happen to Rick, I felt comfortable with Carol slipping in as the boss. She wouldn’t have skipped a beat. But now I’m convinced that she dies this season. She’s begging for it.
A year from now, when we think about those who have fallen or try to remember who we miss from Rick’s main crew, we’ll think Hmm. Well I remember some guy had a tiger. But that’s about it. Unless of course they kill off Daryl, but then we’ll all riot until they find a cure for Walkerism, which in turn would all but bring an end to the show.
To wrap up, I realize, looking at my complaints about characters — of which I forced myself to include Lori — that it looks like I’m just complaining about not enough men and too many women. But the current women offer so little. Maggie’s pregnant and essentially bedridden, or at least on house arrest up at Hilltop. There is very little for her to do to operate as Deanna 2.0 which seemed to be her future. Carol has withdrawn herself from the world basically. I’ve never been a fan of Sasha, and I’m still not. Tara is the absolute worst character and she’s not even trying to be — unlike Andrea or Lori who were.
Give us a battle, a scare, a kidnapping, a breach, some more of those alien-looking creeps from the last episode, something — something other than banter and the spilled blood, which has been rare, of characters we can’t possibly care about. Cut off Rick’s hand already. Show more of Carl’s eye socket. Have Tara get infected and try to keep it a secret. But most of all, tighten up the group. Cut the stragglers, like freaking Tara. Get the burnt-face dude and a couple other outlier characters who show promise and have them join the crew and replace people like Tara. Give us another Glenn or T-Dog or Tyreese or Beth or Lori (not really). Let’s get some action and some tension and someone we care about. We need this. I need this.
- Rick has remembered that the season finale is rapidly approaching. He just singlehandedly manhandled a creature that crawled out of Tolkien’s imagination and then he found a cat.
- Gabriel finally lost the priesty duds and went full boy band bad boy with the wife beater tank. He also led Rick’s crew to the alien group that will help them destroy the Saviors AND stole the knife that got the whole conversation going.
- Daryl is a week away from returning to his No. 2 spot in the lineup, as long as he limits his candlelight dinners with Carol. Maybe he should be there now after tiger-whispering Shiva and punching Richard in the face.
- Rosita does not care if you had sex with the same person. She’s not trying to be your friend. She has two things on her mind: finding guns and taking out the dude who gave her the Dr. Evil scar on her cheek.
- Jerry comes through with the cobbler.
- Jadis with the Kill A Mockingbird haircut commands her crew of Star Trek cosplayers with a flick, or several flicks, of the wrist and goes the whole episode without speaking a complete sentence.
- The keyboard Rick used to take down the spiky walker.
- Richard, not quite a sure shot with the bow and arrow, but hey at least he’s trying to get this whole Savior thing figured out. He will die for the Kingdom.
- The cobbler.
- Diane’s sister’s dress found on the walker Diane shoots in the head with an arrow.