Life and Death on The Walking Dead

I carefully titled this post to avoid the obvious spoiler, but this post will be chock full of them. If you aren’t caught up to the episode Better Angels, and don’t want to be majorly spoiled, STOP READING NOW!

It is one of the many quirks of the TV format: romance can never be happily ever after and stars die at the show’s peril. However, in this case of The Walking Dead, I think death may have saved the show. At least for me. One of the things I love about TWD is its willingness to kill off major characters.  It is horror after all.

This season we have seen the death of three of the original cast members and we haven’t seen the finale yet. One of these deaths was inevitable. Shane (or Rick) had to die (IMHO). Why? While the moral struggles played out in the Rick–Shane dynamic where gripping, they would have been lessened by anything short of a final battle—sooner rather than later. If they kissed and made up, the show would have lost credibility. If they’d continued to fight through another season, the characters would have lost credibility.

Bring on the Walkers
Another reason I was happy to see the death of both Dale and Shane is that their deaths are part of the fuel that will ultimately get the show off the farm. If the final scene of Better Angels is any indicator, Walkers will overrun the farm in the finale. This is a good thing. This season had gripping character drama, but the Walkers had become set dressing. Even the Walkers in the barn where no real threat. They served more as an emotional threat than anything.  I realize the cost and logistics of filming in the city are difficult, but the farm was also visually boring. Why build a captivating world only to ditch it for the tiny world of life on the farm?

External Threats that Never Materialized?
One consequence of the short run seasons is that some things were introduced without being fully realized. In a longer season, the threat of the other humans might have been more fully developed. Such a rich threat was reduced to one gun battle and a young guy in a shed.  Or will this human threat be the focus of the next season? Yes, the emotional drama is gripping, but I like a show that can walk and chew gum at the same time.

I realize this show is wildly successful and I may have been the only one longing for more, but I think if this had gone on much longer, more of the fan base would have joined my bandwagon. This season has been an emotional roller coaster, but I am eager for a bit more taking names and kicking bad guy’s butts (dead or alive). Give me that and I’ll be a lot more eager to go along for the ride.

Were you content with life on the farm? Will you be watching next season?

8 thoughts on “Life and Death on The Walking Dead

  1. We must agree to disagree. I will miss Dale and Shane more than I might miss anyone aside from Andrea and Daryl. If these deaths are intended to make Rick a man, a leader, they’ve failed me. However, won’t stop watching yet.

    • No, I don’t think these deaths are intended to make Rick a man. I think he is a typical horror hero. Endlessly human and fallible. I think he will go right on struggling over ever situation and every call he has to make. I don’t really have any love for Rick, I just don’t want to watch that same Rick-Shane battle over and over and over. I’d have been fine if it had gone the other way. Sure would have made things exciting! I’d really like to see the group mostly united against an outside force and I’m really hoping Daryl will play a bigger role. I can see him being rick’s right hand man and the go to guy when the hard things need to get done. We’ve already seen that in the last few episodes.

  2. I must admit, I havent watched any of the series yet. This stems from the difficulty of convincing my wife to view a show about zombies, but hopefully I will win out. I do agree with you though, a show that can walk and chew gum is what I crave… better still if it can Bounce up and down on a ball with a cup and a cate on the top of its hat at the same time… but hey… that’s me.

  3. Well, we knew from the comics that Rick wouldn’t die because he’s the main character. Also, we knew Shane would die. The farm was a great place for the group to come to grips with the larger moral issues of a zombie apocalypse and resolve some group dynamics. Plus the way it played out in the finale was perfect. We finally merge back with the comics. (Not that I’m saying they always need to coincide.) With S3, I think you will get your wish as far as butt kicking goes. But sadly, we now have a long wait ahead of us.

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