The Walking Dead is an AMC television adaptation from showrunner Angela Kang pulled from the pages of the hit Image comic series by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard. The series stars Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Danai Gurira, Khary Paton, Lauren Cohan, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Melissa McBride. Season nine returns October, 2018.
Based on the comic book series written by Robert Kirkman, this gritty drama portrays life in the weeks and months following a zombie apocalypse. Led by police officer Rick Grimes, his family and a group of other survivors find themselves constantly on the move in search of a safe and secure home. But the pressure each day to stay alive sends many in the group to the deepest depths of human cruelty, and Rick discovers that the overwhelming fear of the survivors can be more deadly than the zombies walking among them.
The Walking Dead season 8 carried the tagline “All Out War” and they definitely delivered plenty of action and chaotic violence, but most of it became so repetitive that somehow they managed to make killing zombies and firing machine guns at one another – boring. Fans of the comic knew this clash was coming and for the most part they delivered the goods, but the problem is that 16 episodes is too much time and it makes for some meandering plot-lines in order to prolong the season, which means more time spent on uninteresting characters (like the camp of women survivors who refuses to help, even though you know they eventually will and do).
Rick managed to unite most of the communities to rally against Negan and the Saviours with a plan so carefully thought out that they could have ended the actual war with very little violence, but because some of his crew are so emotionally damaged and moronic (aka Daryl, Rosita, that other chick everyone hates), that everything goes awry and we wind up with a good 10 episodes that feel like they are all taking place within the same 2-3 hour period of day 1. Season 8 of The Walking Dead is simultaneously the most action packed and least exciting all at once. That’s due to the repetitive plot drudging that chugs along from one shootout to the next with very little major character death or stand-out scenes.
Now — that being said, there are some shocking moments, most good, some REALLY bad. The mid-season finale and subsequent return from the Holiday break featured the ridiculous death of a main character that is most definitely still alive in Robert Kirkman’s comic series. Has that happened before? Yes. But it didn’t potentially ruin the entire point of the series in my opinion. Without spoiling who died, there is a chance to move the focus from this character to another but we’d need a large time jump, to even see any of that play out on the series. It was a dumb move by Scott Gimple who suggested it and although he’s made some bold choices that paid off in the past, albeit sporadically and inconsistently, this time it was silly and seemed to be done for shock value. His choice may have served a purpose in the finale and in setting up season 9 for sure, but I think they could have went about this in a different way by potentially losing another major character or two instead without major ramifications for the series as a whole.
The Walking Dead has become so bloated with characters that they’ve begun shipping them off to Fear The Walking Dead. Spoiler alert – Morgan Jones survives this season because like he says, “I don’t die”, so instead of cutting Lennie James’ salary, they ditched this season’s most interesting character instead of giving him a glorious death. They may have done the same to another character too which I feel is beyond asinine… Season 8 was easily the most up and down string of episodes yet, but it’s hard to really pinpoint one episode or two that stands above the others. I can only pick out moments. The Shiva versus zombies sequence was stunning (even if the CGI was bad) and the cool return of a character from season one was definitely fun, as was most of Negan’s scenes this season – hell we get to find out the origin of Lucille and we even see the big bad man get emotional. Maybe Negan really isn’t the worst? Maybe Rick is just a psychotic and unstable killing machine at this point? Just maybe…
When you have a show that deals with a war between two parties, you need to give us a side to cheer for – a side you want to win. I didn’t care who won in the end. That’s the problem. I just wanted to see the show thin out the herd of an insanely large cast. They didn’t do that. They could have – but they chose not to. Also – they spent a very large amount of time this season showing Morgan Jones losing his sanity and turning into John Wick as he systematically kills more people than Jason from Friday the 13th ever has, only to write him off the show. I found that the most interesting characters this year in addition to Morgan, were Dwight and Simon from the Saviours and even the garbage cult, whom I loathed last year. They actually managed to make those assholes interesting, instead of just giving Norman Reedus a line that isn’t simply a plot device.
With an uneven season of 16 episodes, it’s hard to judge the show overall in it’s 8th season, but because the writing was so weak at times and the major plot twists weren’t all that exciting, we’re left to pick up the pieces of what we did enjoy and try to only remember those. That’s a damn shame, because there was definitely time to raise the stakes or up the ante with the All Out War TV arc. The comic storyline was pretty solid (aside from the ending) but the show actually managed to end the WAR on an even weaker note. The performances were all very good, especially from Andrew Lincoln, Chandler Riggs, Lennie James and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, but there just wasn’t enough for them to do. I’m hoping that a new showrunner will breathe life into this series for season 9 when we finally get to the Whisperers, but most great shows usually end after eight seasons and I don’t see an end in sight. That’s a problem – comics can go on and on, but a TV show like this – will hit viewer fatigue and I’m afraid that happened this year in a big way.
The Walking Dead season 8 may have been an All Out Snore for most of the episodes, but there were some incredible bits sprinkled throughout: Some truly profound moments of acting from Lincoln and Morgan – so it’s hard to write this series completely off. I think there’s still value here in this show, but we can’t have Gimple making dumbass decisions because he feels like it helps move the plot along, when it really feels like they are just firing actors because idiot fans rant about them all the time online. Don’t cater to the trolls, just adapt the comic and trust in Kirkman’s original vision. It’ll help, otherwise we could be about to see the final two seasons of the series. If they go past season 11, they’ll be caught up to the comic book and they don’t need to do that. If they really wanted to, they could have ended the series with this season, as I initially thought they might do years ago. I’m still a Walking Dead fan, now and forever, but I have to be honest when I say that it’s time to start writing with an end in mind for this show and one that doesn’t rely on crossing over even more with Fear The Walking Dead (which is hands down the better show these past two years)…