Another season of The Walking Dead has come and gone. What did we learn? First, we learned the second half of season eight wasn’t much better than the first half and didn’t save the season. More importantly, we learned The Walking Dead is limping along to an eventual cancellation.
We learned The Walking Dead can be as saccharine as any family drama seen on the Freeform network. The second half of season eight started with Carl’s death. It was a cheap off screen zombie bite Carl received while killing zombies (something we have seen him do at least 440 times over the course of the series) to honor a vagabond’s mother he met in the woods. Of course, we never see said zombie bite poor Carl. Carl had time somewhere between being bitten by a zombie and becoming a walker to write a bunch of letters. Letters we would hear being read as voice overs, being read in silent with accompanying tears, or being read to other characters. The damn letters had more screen time than Daryl and Jesus combined.
We learned Negan is still the invincible man showrunners set him to be way back in season seven. Yes, nothing can kill Negan. He survived a three floor fall into a basement. He survived ravenous zombies engulfed in flames. He survived the Trash Can Lady with the made up language. He survived traitors within his midst. He even survived having his throat slit!
Let’s take a look at the ridiculousness of Negan’s season ending throat slice. Rick and Negan tumble around for a bit on the ground before Negan gets the upper hand with his phallic symbol Lucille (Named after his dead wife. How very sweet). Except he can’t bash Rick’s head because Rick says, “Carl.” The one word brought nice big tears to Negan’s eyes. If it was that easy to defeat Negan why didn’t Rick try it before? Somehow Rick, blinded by tears he has perpetually shed since season four, slices Negan’s throat at just the right depth as not to actual kill him. It’s an amazing piece of knifemanship. Not only has Rick become a supreme military mind of the post apocalyptic world ( *sarcasm inteded*) he can handle a blade like someone who has been training their whole life.
Rick’s decision to spare Negan’s life wasn’t totally out of left field. Carl’s letters, beaten like a dead horse through the second half of the season, were all about peace, love, harmony, and getting along with each other. With that in mind and still crying Rick spares Negan’s life. The doctor (What’s his name? Who really cares?),who only a couple of episodes before said he had some “basic medical training,” manages to stitch up Negan’s throat before he dies. I can’t find a decent dentist, but zombie plagued American has more qualified doctors than you can shake a stick at. The training in zombie apocalyptic America must be really great.
Negan was a terror for Rick and the gang for two seasons. Two seasons is about all the series can allot to the bad guy of the moment (See: The Wash, Rinse, Repeat cycle of The Walking Dead). Except, Negan isn’t out of the picture. In Rick’s new world order he will serve as a cautionary warning for anyone who wants to make trouble. Sure, that’s what Rick tells Negan. Let’s face it. You have better odds of winning the lottery than Negan has staying locked in a jail cell.
The last episode of season eight was sweet enough to give viewers an instant case of diabetes. Saviors who only minutes before were ready to kill everyone in Rick’s gang and who had killed before were taken in and forgiven. Tara even gives a nice smile at the end of the season finale to one of the many cardboard characters roaming The Walking Dead landscape (Is there romance ahead in season nine?). Rosita even gives Eugene a playful punch for vomiting on her in a past episode. We could argue she forgives Eugene because he equipped the Saviors with sabotaged bullets. How easily she forgets the bullets he made that were not sabotaged and did kill people. If she could forgive Eugene for being responsible for killing people than we can forgive script writers for Eugene’s not surprising change of heart (Not really but I’m trying to fit into Rick’s new world too). But it’s okay. This is Rick’s hippie free love new world. In this new world Daryl even banishes Dwight instead of killing him for the pain and suffering he caused everyone over the past two seasons. However, not everyone signed up for the Age of Aquarius.
Maggie (Lauren “I still don’t have a contract for season nine” Cohan), however, did not get Rick’s memo. Here’s how season nine will play out. Somewhere at sometime Maggie, Jesus, and Daryl will try to kill Negan. It’s possible Tara and Rosita could also be recruited because both have a bone to pick with Negan. They’ll either fail or succeed. In either case, the group will be fractured into Team Rick and Team Maggie. Everything else that happens in season nine will be set dressing. Team Maggie, following the wash, rinse, repeat cycle, will be around for two seasons.
There was a time when the season finale of The Walking Dead meant months waiting for a new season to start. Now it means something different. Now we hope the new season will be a little better than the previous season. There’s no more excitement in The Walking Dead to care about a new season. The series has become predictable, stale, and boring. Why bother waiting for another season if all we have to look forward to is more running and gunning?