The Walking Dead used to be such a good show.
It took a while for my housemate to convince this horror-averse boy that there was substance to go along with the zombies but he did and I found myself utterly transfixed by show that has was dark and apocalyptic true, and often very sad or shocking but which, zombie killing aside, sought to explore what that kind of civilisation-ending event does to humanity.
Do we go all Lord of the Flies-ish? Do we rise above, courting the better angels of our nature? Or do we land somewhat existentially awkwardly in the middle?
The final option was the one where most characters landed but the getting there was fascinating – well thoughtout, ruminative and reflective balanced with some damn fine action.
And then the undead wheels fell off … and limbs and intestines and pretty much everything.
A clever, intelligent look at the apocalypse became grim and repetitive, with no sense of hope whatsoever – completely missing the hope after the apocalypse movement which has been gaining strengh of late (see Station Eleven and The Girl With All the Gifts) – all points raised in this brilliant video essay Looper which explores why The Walking Dead stopping being such a ratings juggernaut, and shed viewers almost as quickly as it lost its philosophical soul.
No one wants to kick a show when it’s down, and I would love The Walking Dead to recover its storytelling soul, but by highlighting issues such as a meandering narrative, whiplash plot points and squandered characters, Looper explores how a once well-told cautionary tale devolved into a dark and nasty show stuck on villains posture-Rick reacts-people die then rinse-and-repeat.
Here’s hoping someone from the show watches this and remembers what it was once was and what could be again.
The Walking Dead season 8 is currently screening on AMC in USA and Showcase in Australia.