When Will ‘The Walking Dead’ Escape Negan’s Oppressive Presence?

11.07.16 4 weeks ago 21 Comments

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After last night’s episode of The Walking Dead, I spoke at length about the series’ Negan problem.. It’s too much Negan. It’s not his character — he only appeared sporadically in last night’s episode, “The Cell” — it’s his presence. It’s oppressive. Negan has completely sucked the life out of The Walking Dead. After spending more than a year anticipating his arrival, we may have gotten more than we bargained for. He’s not as fun as I had hoped, and rather than bringing renewed life to the series, he’s killing enthusiasm for it.

That will change eventually, I suspect, once Scott Gimple is finished turning our heroes into underdogs. Unfortunately, I think the series has overshot the mark in that regard. In the typical David vs. Goliath showdown, David is the weaker, overmatched character who manages to win not by brute force, but by will and spirit. On The Walking Dead, Daryl and Rick’s spirits have been broken, and Negan is not done tearing characters down. Only Maggie, so far, has even shown a willingness to fight, which presents the series with some intriguing possibilities.

Maggie and Michonne: Alexandria’s New Leaders?

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With Glenn and Abraham dead, Rick broken, and Daryl both broken and sidelined, who is left to fill the leadership vacuum in Alexandria other than Maggie and Michonne? Seeing those two become the new leaders, along with Carl (he did show some chutzpah during the Negan confrontation) could change the dynamic of the series. Look: The Saviors outnumber the Alexandrians. Even with the addition of the Hilltop Colony and The Kingdom, The Saviors presumably still have greater numbers and resources. That means The Walking Dead survivors may lose the ability to do what they do best: Fight their way out of a problem. They may, instead, need to rely on their negotiation skills and their wits. They’re going to need to come up with an actual plan and there’s no one better equipped than Maggie and Michonne to do that.

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