THE WALKING DEAD – How Negan Killed Hope And Saved A Hopeless Show

SPOILER WARNING. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO TALK ABOUT THE WALKING DEAD WITHOUT TALKING ABOUT LAST NIGHTS DEATHS. This is a bit of a conundrum. I had given up on The Walking Dead years ago, only watching out of habit. My mantra for years was simple, kill Daryl, Carol, Glenn or Maggie and I’m out. Unfortunately, boredom with the constant filler episodes (sometimes as many as 12 a season) robbed me of my emotion attachment about season 4. The show had become tired and repetitive.

walkingdeadThe characters are unbearable. Rick is a tyrant whom I have little for and puts his pain in the ass son above the best interests of the group he swears he loves and wants to protect. As you can gather from the last sentence, I have even less for Carl. I’ve been hoping for his death since season 2. Never liked Lori (and I have nothing to add to that which speaks volumes about her character). Andrea, Tara, the list goes on. Tons of worthless cannon fodder (yes that includes Tyreese) Michonne doesn’t resonate with me so I can take or leave her. All that the show had were Daryl, Carol, Glenn and Maggie. But the Daryl/Carol thing died quietly and out of nowhere. Also Carol’s character made a hard left that felt forced and Daryl hasn’t had anything to do for a couple of seasons except brood. This left Maggie and Glenn with the only growth and life in the show. Then comes Negan.

941641I’ve known for months and didn’t even watch till this morning because I just didn’t care. I made my piece with the death of Glenn and had already resolved to stop watching after the fiasco of a season finale. Then something happened. The critical reactions were off the charts, anger, shock, and even joy. Not from the shows zombie like fan base but from actual thinking people whose opinions I trust and value. So I watched this morning. Watching Abe’s death was sad but ultimately, meant nothing to me. I’ve always thought Michael Cudlitz was too good for the show and I’m glad to see him free for other work. The upside is that he went out hard and with his odd character in tact. This was a fake out death that would have been safe and of little long term consequence. Then came the death that was meant to kill us all.

daryl-walking-deadAMC killed the only hope on the show by killing Glenn. After Abraham is beaten to death, Daryl attacks Negan, punching him. This in turn causes Glenn’s death as punishment. Now there is a poetic injustice to having one of my four “unkillables” cause the death of another. But it’s angering and sloppy because Daryl’s actions make little sense. What was he gonna do? They are surrounded by an army who they know means business. There was no victory to come out of that. Only death. Glenn’s death. So I was still firm in my resolve that the show had no value left (even less now) and I would move on. Hope is dead.

glennThe Walking Dead has been hopeless for years with only habit and a lack of an alternative keeping it around for some. Then came the breaking of Rick Grimes. I can’t lie and say I didn’t take pleasure in seeing Rick broken. I was hoping he was going to cut Carl’s arm off as Negan ordered him to. I didn’t get that part but what I got was so rewarding. Rick lost and disorientated, serving Negan. This was the point that brought me back.After years of the bad guy of the week syndrome (on a seasonal scale), the show has finally rejuvenated itself. Negan is like nothing they have dealt with before and isn’t going anywhere. He has changed the show and every character for good. Eugene lost his buddy and protector. Rosita and Sasha lost their man. Maggie lost her husband and the father of her first child. Everyone lost a friend. But not to a walker. That was always a possibility. Not to a psycho rover. That was always a danger. This was graphic beyond words. It was drawn out and played out in front of them by someone who is not a passing villain but a leader of the new world order with not just a few goons or group of inexperienced twenty-somethings, but an army.

walkingNegan rules to the new world. It is his show now and our heroes are merely guest stars. His rules are vastly different than the ones we’ve lived with for seven years. The show is different. For the first time in years, you can believe that no one is safe. Whether or not they died in the comics or are the main character, no one feels safe anymore. For example, will Maggie eventually take Lori’s death from the comics? I can see that happening now. Negan has made the show unpredictable with the level of violence it forced the show runners to confront. He has made the show unsafe and if you doubt me, take another look at Glenn, head split open and bobbing, eye bulging out and brain exposed, mumbling to Maggie.

deadrecap24fNegan has changed the show and saved it from itself. It is a brand new day in a world we don’t know. How long will this rejuvenation last? Who knows? But for now, I will tune in faithfully once again. Not as a time waster, but with renewed emotion that the people who live within it will defeat not death, as has seemingly been the goal, but life.

2 responses to “THE WALKING DEAD – How Negan Killed Hope And Saved A Hopeless Show

  1. This very episode not only elevated both Jeffrey Dean Morgan as an actor and Greg Nicotero as a director,but it made the show a lot more interesting and it’ll be intriguing to see what happens when Carol,Morgan,and their newfound allies eventually clash with Negan and the Saviors and which one of them will survive.

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