Last year, The Walking Dead strained the patience of fans with one ratings gimmick after another. First, there was the incredulous dumpster incident where Glenn survived (because zombies never go for the face?), then there was Daryl getting shot with his own crossbow. And finally, the coup de grâce, the cliffhanger of “Who did Negan kill?” that gave audiences 202 days to both speculate on the victim’s identity and become desensitized to the inevitability. Things became so dire that HitFix’s own Alan Sepinwall washed his hands of the show completely.
WARNING: SPOILERS FROM SEASON 7 OF THE WALKING DEAD BEYOND THIS POINT.
I was still tentatively on board. The Walking Dead has pulled itself out of bad decisions in the past and after sinking six years into this relationship, I wasn’t willing to walk away just yet. Until after the Season 7 premiere. Now it’s official. I’m breaking up with The Walking Dead.
On its face, Negan’s (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) true introduction to the series should’ve worked. Part of the appeal of the show has always been the effects. The zombies have always been a make-up marvel and watching their decomposition over the seasons has been captivating. Past character deaths have been gruesome; Noah (Taylor James Williams) and Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) immediately spring to mind. Beating Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and Glenn (Steven Yeun) to a mushy pulp on-camera is beyond the pale, but in a show of increasing violence, not unexpected. So at first I thought maybe it was the six-month hiatus between swings of Lucille that kept me from feeling emotionally invested in their death scene. Even the alternate-reality fantasy where everyone was happy and eating Thanksgiving dinner — clearly intended to tug at fan heartstrings — left me feeling numb and…dare I say it…bored.