The Walking Dead needs to change course. On the midseason finale Robert Kirkman talked about having to ‘up the ante’ at his 100th episode which meant getting more violent and upping the stakes. It appears from all accounts the show is leading up to this for the season finale this year. Rick’s Eliot Ness Untouchables vs. Salvation Gangsters has its moments but it mostly feels odd seeing our ‘heroes’ now being the cold-hearted killers. In a lot of ways it reminds me of the Governor taking out the military squad. Either way, it feels as if upping the ante to more violence is a mistake. The best story arc of the Walking Dead was the Prison. The governor gets credit, but more than that it was the actual attempt at recreating a settlement sadly cut short by the sickness and Brian.
I think it may be time to transition to a different type of show, of attempting to build up society instead of giving up when a tank drives through your front yard. The Governor, the Wolves, and now Salvationists is getting a bit repetitive. I’d like to spend some actual time seeing Alexandria rebuild from the zombie fun run. Deal with shortages - plan for possible droughts - raid for Sorghum. And I am fine with them entering a larger world of Hilltop and other communities, but make those situations tense without needing a murderous psychopath. Maggie negotiating for medical supplies. What happens if the well needs maintenance?
They can do this sort of drama as shown in the episode ‘Them’ with the water shortage and it’s very effective. A show I can think of offhand that they could use as a template is the first season of Stargate: Atlantis. That show was much more episodic and light hearted but was still able to deal with similar issues of isolation and lack of supplies. They also were able to form alliances and have power struggles.
The drama with other communities might spill over into violence, but investing in Alexandria and perhaps seeing some of the other side of the other communities would make the situation even more interesting. Let’s see Eugene have a moment; or others who have more to offer than just raiding and shooting zombies.
Alas I realize with a show this popular there’s too much at stake for AMC to tilt the rudder that extreme. So we’ll probably just end up with endless bloodshed just as with Kirkman and his comics but that is just a wasted opportunity. History has even shown that after violence and plagues eventually humanity builds itself back up and that’s the next logical step to keep the show fresh without retreading villain after villain.