The following is a guest post from Chris of ZA Monthly.
You should start watching ‘The Walking Dead’ (again)
Aside from a small bump for Andrew Lincoln’s final episode as Rick Grimes, the ratings for AMC’s zombie drama “The Walking Dead” have been at their lowest point in years. The fan exodus actually began during season 7, when several character deaths angered and upset viewers and continued through season 8 as the “all out war” storyline drug on.
But is the show any worse now than it ever was? Has it become an unwatchable and unsalvageable husk of its former self?
The answer to both questions is no and fans of the show as well as those who have never seen it should tune in when the show returns in February.
The following discussion contains spoilers, but will serve a primer for those unfamiliar and as a catch-up for those who have tuned out for a while.
Returning to the show
The first step in coming back to “The Walking Dead” is to be clear with yourself what the show is about and what the show’s world is like. For years, people claiming to be fans of “The Walking Dead” have said something along the lines of “I love this show, but if my favorite character dies I will riot.”
This is the wrong way to look at this show. With “The Walking Dead,” as it is in life, we don’t get to pick and choose when people will come and go from our lives. All too often, people leave before we are ready. Losing a favorite character can, and should, be heartbreaking.
Larger than one character
However, the show is larger than any one character and that is one of its strengths. Robert Kirkman, the creator of graphic novel on which the show is based and a creative voice for the show itself, has long said that no one in the Walking Dead universe is safe from death. That is why both versions of the Walking Dead have placed an emphasis on story with a cast of characters who come and go from the canvas.
And this is precisely why everyone should be watching when season 9 resumes. There are a lot of stories to be told and a host of interesting characters to tell them.
Purists who want the show to follow the graphic novels exactly will have to give up on that dream. Rick is gone (for now), Maggie may not soon return and Carl and Jesus are never coming back. But touchstones of those stories are still around for comic fans to enjoy.
The Whisperers, for example, have made their entrance and in truly frightening form. Teaser photos of the Beta character (played by Sons of Anarchy star Ryan Hurst) look absolutely amazing.
Negan, who spent the first half of season 9 in a cage, is free again. This promises much greater opportunity for Jeffrey Dean Morgan to bring the swagger that made Negan such an interesting character.
Furthermore, with the removal of Rick as the central protagonist, the show will now have the opportunity to become more of an ensemble, allowing its writers the ability to explore other characters in ways they were previously unable. In the past, any character who started to get development was usually being set up to die in a coming episode. How refreshing will it be to get to know a character and have them still be around a few weeks later?
“The Walking Dead” is not a perfect show. It still suffers from issues with pacing and sometimes uneven direction of its episodes, but season 9 has featured some of the best writing in years. And the zombie FX this season have been better than ever.
Appreciate the show for what it is
I’m not a fan of the term toxic fandom, but if people can put aside their entitled feeling of ownership of “The Walking Dead’s” characters and plot and just sit back and enjoy it for the post-apocalyptic drama that it is, I think they would be pleasantly surprised at just how good it really is.
Chris Post is the Editor in Chief of Zombie Apocalypse Monthly (www.zamonthly.com) an online and print on demand magazine dedicated to all things zombie. From pop culture to disaster prepping and everything in between, ZAMonthly strives to be the web’s source for zombie news.
Thank you, Chris for this great review.
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