Sunday, July 24, 2016

Dear TV Gods...

A plea for The Walking Dead's return to greatness following a sloppy sixth season

On Friday, The Walking Dead debuted its trailer for the eagerly-awaited seventh season at Comic-Con to hoards of fans, both in real life at the convention and online. Since the polarizing sixth season finale, I have seen many gushing unwavering loyalty to the show and fanboys continually guessing who met the receiving end of Negan's bat. However, it appears I am in the minority with my feelings of distrust an disinterest for the shocking cliffhanger ending of Season 6, and the newly-released trailer only cements those feelings surrounding the ever-growing mystery of "Negan's victim". 

The trailer, while not terrible, makes the mistake of relying on the anticipation from the egregious cliffhanger to carry it and make it interesting. By starting the trailer with an angsty montage of the possible victims, it is clear that everything not pertaining to Negan's victim, (such as Carol and Morgan with the new group, or Tara and Heath finding serious trouble on the road), is an after-thought. And this is the problem with the series as a whole at this point: the writers- for whatever reason- no longer have faith in their audience to stay tuned-in to the show unless each episode is filled with gimmicks and shocking moments. Evidence of this can be found in the fact that nearly every single episode of Season 6 ended with a pseudo-cliffhanger, but is, of course, perfectly exemplified by the final moments of Season 6 with the purposeful anonymity of Negan's victim.

You'll see many people quip that fans who are irritated by the finale are just "whiners". However, the true problem with this show is not the cliffhanger, the issue is that what was once a thought-provoking, dark drama now appears to be a gossipy ploy to get ratings. The cliffhanger itself is not what bothers myself and many others; what the cliffhanger represents from a writing and production viewpoint is what is so upsetting. However, looking to the elements from the trailer that didn't involve Negan's bloody bat, we can see that The Walking Dead has the potential to return to it's former artistic glory. Carol and Morgan, (who are both incredibly complex and interesting characters), are taken-in by a strange new group, led by a captivating leader and his pet tiger. The survivors of Alexandria continue to struggle with their poor choices and horrific events that have plagued them. Tara and Heath- who I have great fear for, considering that Beth was given the similar "post-credits" section of the Season 5 trailer- appear to be stranded and fighting for their lives. Each of these elements are character-driven, thought-provoking, and genuinely interesting, and I beg the writers of TWD to focus on those moments, rather than explosions and cliffhangers. If TWD can trust their audience again and return to the level of storytelling that was evident in seasons 4 and earlier- a level of storytelling that would be easy to achieve with the extremely talented cast and the current, complex plot the show has at its service- the disappointment of Season 6 can be forgiven and forgotten.

Here's hoping Season 7 is an improvement on a truly captivating show, which premieres October
23 on AMC.


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