*This review contains spoilers and angry rants.
There is no other way to say this – after suffering through the season seven premiere of The Walking Dead (which used to be my favorite TV series) I am thoroughly angry and disheartened. Series creator Robert Kirkman and showrunner Scott Gimple – seen after the debacle on an episode of The Talking Dead that seemed like a Survivor finale in the rain – have clearly let power get to their greedy little heads. Kirkman has said that he would like TWD to go forever, but then he should seriously look at this episode’s title – “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be” – and add the words “watching anymore” to the end of it because I am certain that I am not the only one and plenty of fans feel ready to dump this series.
I have been there since the first episode, and I have stuck with the TWD because I cared about the characters (obviously infinitely more than Kirkman and Gimple). I mean how many slings and arrows do they think we can continue to endure? They take Dale, Lori, Andrea, Herschel, and even dear sweet Beth, and we are supposed to keep going, right? The deaths are supposed to tell us anyone can bite the zombie dust (perhaps except Rick and Carl), and we are supposed to accept it. Up until last night I had hung in there, but now I’m on the fence and ready to jump off.
First of all it was bad enough to make us wait all summer to find out whom Negan (admittedly played amazingly by Jeffrey Dean Morgan) had dispatched, but then we had to suffer through two commercial breaks – two damn it – until we saw the action take place. This choice (whether made by director Greg Nicotero, Gimple, Kirkman or collectively by them all) shows complete and total disregard for the fans.
Instead of what we have been waiting all summer to see we get a tangent – an annoying and quite unnecessary one – with Negan dragging Rick (always excellent Andrew Lincoln) like a sack of bones into the RV and driving off and playing a game of “fetch the hatchet” with a hundred zombies running around. Now all of this seemed way off character for Rick who, despite having just witnessed the execution, would have – and I mean the real TV Rick and not the one they are trying to create now – would have grabbed that hatchet and thrown it into the back of Negan’s skull. That’s what the real Rick would have done, and then he would have driven the RV back, burst out with the machine gun, and cut down many of Negan’s men and send the rest of them running.
Alas, Kirkman and company are trying to shove this hybrid Rick down our throats now – and tossing the characters we love and the story we have followed to the zombies like entrails. We get scenes of Rick cowering, Rick subdued, Rick begging on his knees and raising that hatchet to cut off Carl’s arm. I am wondering if Gimple and Kirkman considered what a one-eyed and one-handed Carl might look like and decided against it, or if they just figured that the fans would start throwing their remotes at their TV sets at that point.
Getting back to Negan’s pummeling of the character (who turns out to be Michael Cudlitz’s Abraham) – brutal, bloody, and gruesome comes to mind – it is only after those before mentioned two commercial breaks and then we have nothing left to the imagination. I know Nicotero loves to use those make-up artists to create gore, but seeing it is less shocking than thinking about what it must have looked like.
Then, to rub salt in open and festering emotional wounds, Daryl (Norman Reedus) throws a punch at Negan and we all fear the fan favorite is doomed, but inexplicably Negan leaves him be (Gimple knows the death of Daryl would cause a fan revolt) and turns around and kills Glenn (Steven Yeun). Sure, we know it happened in the comics, but this is not the comics.
This is a TV show that has veered away from the comics more often than not, and it has made much narrative sense because you cannot get away with the crap from the comics on TV. For all those diehard readers who wanted the show to follow the comics word for word – it wouldn’t have worked for seven seasons, and after last night I am not certain if anything is going to work anymore.
So Negan kills Abraham and Glenn (Check). He roughs up Rick in a stupid game that proves the series is losing its soul (Check). He acts like God ordering Abraham to kill Issac when he asks Rick to cut off Carl’s arm (Check). He leaves our group broken and two bodies with heads like bloody pulps (Check). And now we are supposed to come back next week, right? We are supposed to swallow this crap and then ask for another helping?
Okay, I admit, I will be back next week, but the ice is getting thin for me, and I’m not sure how long I’ll keep skating on this pond. Yes, I want to see Negan drawn and quartered, but if you read the comics you know that won’t happen anytime soon. That is what I am worried about – the Kirkman goal to have TWD go on forever. Hey, Kirkman, this isn’t Gunsmoke. Get with it that the TV series is not the comic book series, and this Rick has to get back in the saddle and kick Negan’s ass and then kill him.
I have stayed with TWD all this time – even through two episodes of the Governor back story that no one wanted or needed. Please do not give us Negan’s back story. We don’t want to sympathize with him or understand how he came to be this messed up – we want him dead.
Yeah, I am very ticked off and remain so. I don’t like the direction Kirkman and company is taking, but I am remaining hopeful that better awaits, yet not much in the recent seasons gives me much hope of that. They played chicken with Glenn dying last year, and when that blew up in their faces they decided that this time he really would die, but it would be an even more horrible and infinitely more senseless death.
I am hanging on for Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Carol (Melissa McBride), and Morgan (Lennie James) and hoping that they can snap Rick out of it, but I am skeptical. The TV TWD has to respect its viewership as much as Kirkman respects his comic readership, but right now it seems the TV fans are being treated with disdain. That has to change soon – very soon – or many fans are going to find something different to do on Sunday nights.