Cliched, uninspiring, forced, and boring are only a few of the adjectives that come to mind to describe season nine of The Walking Dead. We left last season with The Worst Lead Ever Rick Grimes initiating his Happy New World and Michonne, Daryl, and Maggie plotting in the shadows to kill Negan. Flash forward to season nine and a year and half later in Walking Dead time and not much really has happened to convince us The Walking Dead is on the upward swing to better television.
We’re introduced to a random kid who quickly becomes zombie food. While everyone on screen was torn apart by his death the result is nothing more than another flat moment in a long line of flat moments. Who was this kid and why should the viewer care about someone introduced only a scene before his death?
The real reason behind killing off an unknown random character was to force Maggie into killing Gregory. Honestly, he should have been killed off a lot sooner. Gregory’s only purpose in the series was to spark conflict and turn the Hilltop against Maggie. After two seasons it had grown stale and played out. It was about time the series cut dead weight before Negan returns in full bloom to cause more boring Negan chaos.
Somewhere in the past year and half a rift occurred between all three communities. Was it the ferry project Aaron kept alluding to on his walks with Jesus? Or was it something else? Based on the reaction Michonne received from just about everyone at the Hilltop it had to be something more than just a ferry. If it was the ferry issue than it was important enough to mention a couple of times only to be forgotten about. However, the first half of the season is pretty bare bones on details.
The rift between the communities and how they come back together should have been season nine’s main focus. It was an opportunity to move the story forward in a different direction. We’ve seen plenty of “the gang is in trouble and now fights to save what they fought to establish” story lines. Imagine the story moving towards the goals it had set out to achieve at the end of season eight. Instead, we’re treated to a lot of sappy, sweet voice overs reminding us yet again what everyone is fighting for in the zombie apocalypse. We know what the gang is fighting for and reminding us every episode does not make for good or even entertaining television.
Showrunners have pulled a lot of ridiculous stunts on its viewers during its eight and a half season run. The most famous stunt was letting everyone think Glenn was dead while he was actually hiding underneath a dumpster. How can we ever forget Carl’s off screen zombie bite? But the biggest, cheese dick move The Walking Dead showrunners have pulled to date is Andrew Lincoln’s non-departure from The Walking Dead?
Remember at the beginning of 2018 and during the SDCC it was announced Andrew Lincoln was leaving the show? To be fair, showrunners did not exactly say Rick Grimes was going to be killed off. However, they did not say he wasn’t going to be killed off either. They just let everyone believe whatever they wanted to believe. Even Andrew Lincoln got in on the lie when he told media outlets he was leaving the show to be with his family.
Well, Rick didn’t die. Rick not only survives a piece of steel rebar straight through his gut he also survives an explosion. We’re not talking a little explosion. We’re talking an explosion big enough and powerful enough to take down a bridge. It wouldn’t serve AMC’s bottom life if Rick Grimes was completely off the series or even out of the zombie universe they’re tying to create, but what the network is really saying is Rick Grimes is indestructible.
The void left by Rick’s departure is going to be a difficult obstacle for the series to hurdle. With Rick gone other characters have to step up to fill the void. Unfortunately, an angry Michonne, a thinner Eugene, and a one-eyed Gabriel are not enough to fill the Rick void. Not even making Jesus a Kung Fu master when he’s never been a Kung Fu master only to kill him off helps.
Introducing new characters was one attempt to fill the void. New characters have helped in the past. Season three’s introduction of Sasha and Tyreese made viewers almost forget the underwhelming season two. Abraham, Eugene, and Rosita had the viewers hooked the moment they were introduced into the series. For better or worse we would not be at the point in the series if it weren’t for all the new characters introduced at the beginning of the Alexandria saga.
However, the new characters introduced into the series are pale imitations of characters we’ve already seen throughout the series. Writers and showrunners are now recycling characters and rehashing drama we’ve seen before except this time with a Michonne who forgets she was once in the same spot as the newcomers.
These characters and this story cannot propel the story any farther than it has already gone. For eight and half seasons the majority of the story has been focused on Rick. The other characters have been satellites revolving around Rick. Now it’s the writers task to have the remaining characters step up to lead the series. So far it’s a task they are failing at.
I’m not disappointed that somewhere during fighting Negan and zombie hordes and with no explanation, no trial and error the survivors learned to create their own medicines, antibiotics, and saline solutions for IV bags. I’m not even mad that today I can’t find a trustworthy mechanic, but during the apocalypse you’ll have no shortage of people with blacksmithing skills. Heck, I’m not even mad there are more reliable doctors in the zombie apocalypse than in my own home town.
No, I’m disappointed that every episode is almost worse than the one before. I’m disappointed the acting has gotten progressively worse. Maybe the acting hasn’t gotten worse in season nine. Andrew Lincoln has always been the main focus of the series and the other actors were always supporting roles. It’s only apparent now the acting has been average at best because there were never full scenes with the supporting cast being the main focus.
Maybe the last half of season nine will be an improvement over the first half of the season. AMC is pimping the heck out of the Whisperers. A group of crazies dressed in zombie skins who can control the dead seems like it will be a return to The Walking Dead’s horror roots. Negan, who seemed to be emasculated in the earlier part of season nine, is sure to return to his old tired games. What this ultimately means is we will get more of the same things we have seen in the past eight seasons. At least we’ll have Samantha Morton on the series.