‘The Walking Dead’ Is Stuck In A Major World-Building Rut

11.21.16 2 weeks ago 20 Comments

AMC

Here are our five main takeways from this week’s episode of The Walking Dead, “Go Getters,” which returns to The Hilltop Colony for the first time in nine episodes.

When Will the Universe Stop Expanding?

During the long break between the sixth and seventh season of The Walking Dead, showrunner Scott Gimple and creator Robert Kirkman spoke at length about the world-building the series would undertake this season. They spoke of how the series would expand into the communities on The Walking Dead beyond Alexandria. Five episodes into the seventh season, and they are still working their way outward, beyond Alexandria. We spent an episode in Alexandria, an episode in The Kingdom, an episode in the Savior’s compound, and this week, we spent an episode back inside The Hilltop Colony. Next week, The Walking Dead is expected to spend another episode introducing yet another new society, which Tara and Heath will stumble upon.

I appreciate that The Walking Dead is expanding its universe. It couldn’t exist inside the prison or Alexandria forever. However, this season’s focus on universe expansion has also stalled the series’ momentum. It’s beginning to feel like several different spinoffs of The Walking Dead, with two or three characters relocating into each settlement as though creating backdoor pilots to The Walking Dead: Hilltop Colony or The Walking Dead: The Kingdom. It’s not that I haven’t appreciated these new settlements, it’s simply that The Walking Dead can’t continue to move forward if it’s mired in a series of settlement-building episodes.

Assuming, as rumored, another new settlement is introduced next week, that will leave The Walking Dead with two episodes remaining before the break to move the story forward in Alexandria, The Hilltop Colony, The Kingdom, The Saviors’ Compound, and Tara’s new settlement. There’s not enough time to advance the plot in any meaningful way by jumping back and forth between the five settlements, but I’d also hate to see The Walking Dead rotate through each one with an episode apiece. We went three episodes between Glenn’s death and seeing Maggie again. We may go three or four episodes before we see Carol and Morgan again. Meanwhile, the rapport between Dwight and Daryl introduced in the third episode has been put on the backburner while the series hops to yet another location.

There’s an endgame here, we all suspect. These settlements will eventually have to come together and go to war with Negan, and the Alexandrians in each of the colonies will form the glue that binds the other settlements together. Unfortunately, I don’t see that glue adhering anytime soon, which may mean that The Walking Dead continues to hop from one colony to the next for the entire seventh season, and that might eventually get frustrating for impatient viewers.

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