The Walking Dead has been struggling for the last few seasons, with a drop in ratings and critical reception, meaning that the latest season of the show has a lot of work to do in order to bring itself back to the level of popularity of previous years. As such, the showrunners have made the choice to focus on action this year, labelling season eight as ‘All Out War’, as the fight against the evil Saviours reaches new heights.
Season eight has brought together the tree communities of Alexandria, Hilltop, and The Kingdon to fight against Negan (Jeffery Dean Morgan) and his followers. Kicking off the season with a bang (literally), the subsequent episodes have begun to slow in pace, falling back into old Walking Dead habits of poor pacing.
One of the biggest issues with this new season so far has been the lack of any real character development or growth. In the past the series has put story second to characters, willing to waste a whole episode on characters wandering around the woods not doing much, just to allow them a chance to develop, to talk through their feelings, their viewpoints, their motivations. Whilst this can sometimes lead to lulls in the story its never really boring if done right.
With so much focus this season on the war with the saviours these character moments have fallen away to the sidelines, and it’s led to the season being duller than usual. Yes, there are more gunfights, more explosions, and more running around from place to place, but after so long of the same thing it doesn’t feel exciting anymore. When we’re cutting between half a dozen different groups of people, all of whom are having shootouts, it gets old very quickly.
This doesn’t mean that there haven’t been some moments of character focus, we’ve had some time looking at Carl (Chandler Riggs) and his outlook on the war, we’ve had Jesus (Tom Payne) pushing for a more peaceful way, and we’ve seen the breaking of King Ezekiel (Khary Paton), but none of these plots have been given the time that they really need, or that the season would have done so in the past.
With the season ending on a surprise turn of the Saviours managing to get the upper hand, capturing some of our heroes, and destroying Alexandria, it’s unclear of how the second half of the series is going to go. The heroes went into this season with such a strong sense that they had the upper hand, that they would win the fight, but are now at one of the lowest points they could be. Seeing how this plays out is sure to be interesting.
One of the biggest shocks of this first half of this season, however, is the shock reveal that Carl has been bitten by a Walker, and is going to die in the final moments of the mid-season finale. With Carl being alive in the comics series, the character having been around since the very first episode, and still essentially being a kid, many fans felt that Carl was going to be safe, perhaps even being set up to take over as leader one day if Andrew Lincoln were ever to depart the show.
The reaction to Carl’s upcoming departure, however, has shown a much poorer side to The Walking Dead, angry, self-entitled fans. Within days of the reveal fans have been calling for showrunner Scott Gimple to be fired from the series, even having a Change.org petition with over 33,000 signatures from fans.
There’s nothing wrong with loving a series, but when you get to the point that you feel it’s okay to call for people to lose their jobs because you don’t like a creative decision about a fictional story, that’s not okay. Hopefully this isn’t something that will carry on for long, and the majority of the show’s fans will realise that tantrums like this will only hurt the series, because fans acting like this only hurts the overall impression of the show.
With a lacklustre series of episodes that has been trying to push action over story and character development, angry fans, and a lack of any wow factor, the first half of season eight has been incredibly dull and boring. Unless The Walking Dead can address these issues soon it’s sure to continue to decline in both quality and ratings.
What do you think of The Walking Dead Season 8 so far? Let us know.