Last season, I almost gave up watching “The Walking Dead.” I don’t know if it was a combination of the election of the current President of the United States and the latest bully on the block in the series (i.e., Negan), or that the opener was just so gratuitously violent — but it was just too much to take. I even guested on a podcast produced and hosted by a couple of co-workers, where I wasn’t the only one having doubts about continuing with the series (have a listen):
Some of the early reviews of the Season 8 premiere faulted the series for just being a plodding, boring show that has very few surprises and has lost whatever made it compelling in the early seasons. In the podcast (above), it was noted that after six seasons, the producers of the series wanted to essentially reboot it. What they wanted to make clear in this reboot was the world that existed prior to the zombie apocalypse is never coming back. The humans left to exist in this world must fashion a life that’s very different from what came before the fall — and the kind of jungle justice world of The Governor, Negan, and the other Big Bads.
Does it seem like that reboot is happening? Not quite yet. There are hints that life will be different for Rick and his crew in the near future, but right now the battle is still between Rick’s allies and Negan’s army. There will be more bloodshed for the battle of this new society — which means the show is going to draw out this battle for a few more episodes. It may all lead to the “epic showdown” between Negan and Rick. Or, they could do a head-fake and have Negan’s fate somewhat uncertain. What I hope, however, is that Negan’s character goes away. I can’t stand his one-dimensional motivations, and how his scenes are always punctuated with the same smile and a kind of hip thrust. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is a good actor, and I really liked him in “The Good Wife” on CBS, but on “The Walking Dead” he’s kind of limited by his character. While The Governor was played with more of a broken backstory by David Morrissey in an interesting way, we know very little about Negan. I’m sure that’s by design, but it makes him more of a caricature than a fully formed person. And in the early seasons, knowing the whole person (and how they changed because of this civilization-altering event) made the show an engaging adventure. Negan is just one guy, and it’s odd that with all the brutal sadism he wields over his people, that there haven’t been large-scale rebellions against him.
Maybe that’s coming, but it’s taking an awfully long time.