THE STORY SO FAR:
When we last cared to watch The Walking Dead, Sensei Jesus with Kung Fu grip shuffled off this mortal coil with help of some creeps wearing the dead’s skin . Never Going to Die Negan broke out of jail and was reunited with a Lucille wannabe pipe and whistling his tune.
Flash forward to the second half of season nine, Jesus is still dead (Although there’s a confusing flashback involving a fair and a light bulb and mention of Jesus who Anna and the King of Siam just saw), Negan returns to Alexandria State Prison, and the gang captures a Skinwalker. Maggie is briefly mentioned in a flashback or a flash forward or a scene shoehorned into an already confusing layout (We’re going with the latter) there’s was still no mention of Maggie’s disappearance. I guess the showrunners couldn’t naturally write her off the series without explaining they didn’t want to Lauren Cohan more money.
Some Things Never Change
What hasn’t changed is the same run from the bad guys because we’re too stupid to do anything else. How many times will Scooby and the Gang fall for the “We’re good people” and “Maybe we can talk to them” routine? After eight seasons kill first and ask questions later should have become their mantra. Please, come up with something different to lure characters into trusting obviously un-trustable characters. This series has become a chore to watch.
The last half or season nine was filled to the max with fluff. The New Kids on the Block sneak out of Alexandria to find Fantastic Beasts Luke only to sort of find the Skinwalkers. Mullet Man Eugene over hears Rosita’s speech about being pregnant which starts a whole new story line of who’s Rosita’s baby daddy (Until Negan drops the truth bomb). Henry, Carol and the King’s son but not son, immediately falls in love with Stranger Thing Eleven Look Alike which is the catalyst to start the boring half of season nine.
IT’S NOT ALL BAD
At least Daryl reminded us during his fight with Beta Max Skinwalker why he’s everyone’s favorite redneck biker. Except a fall down an unfinished elevator shaft wasn’t enough to kill Beta Max. If you and I were to fall down an elevator shaft our days would be over and we’d be coming back as brain munchers. Beta Max, on the other hand, can shake off a knife to the chest and a neck breaking fall. Obvious character return to cause more chaos later is a worn out pattern the series goes to time and time again. Have I mentioned how much of a chore this series has become to watch?
The last half of season nine wasn’t a complete loss. Samantha Morton (Minority Report) is the best thing to happen to The Walking Dead in seasons. You’re missing some excellent performances if you missed her in In America with Paddy Considine or Elizabeth: The Golden Age. As Alpha, she’s crazier than anything Scooby and the Gang have seen in nine seasons.
YES, IT IS ALL BAD
Alpha may be crazy, but she’s just another version of the villains that have come and gone before. You can change the villain from season to season. You can have him wear an eye patch, carry a bat, or even change the gender but the result is the same- Scooby and the Gang have something the villain wants, the villain tells their people Alexandria is bad, and they should fight Alexandria and all the “bad people.”
We can’t even escape the worn out “everything falls apart” routine. How many seasons are we going to watch everything Scooby and the Gang have be destroyed? In the case of season nine there’s no explanation as to why both the Kingdom and Hilltop collapse. I’m not buying the leaky pipes excuse or death of wannabe Maggie (Tara) for the Hilltop collapsing.
For a brief moment during the last couple episodes of the season it seemed like The Walking Dead turned a corner. It seemed like the series would get back to telling a good story. Except all the flashbacks, flash forwards, characters jumping from one place to another (How did Alpha and the Bets get all their captives in one place at the same time when they all left the Hilltop at different times? Some of the heads on the stake didn’t even leave the Hilltop) bog the series down even deeper into the proverbial mud. This isn’t Lost. Showrunners need to tell a linear story. Leave the flash forwards and backs for other shows.
There were some standout moments in season nine. In the most notable scene Daryl, Michonne, and some other members of the gang fight ice zombies while looking for Judith in a snow storm. A brief flashback to the early days of the Zombie Holocaust showed how some people survived by hiding in a basement. Machine gun fire and screaming can be heard outside with a scream or two added in for good measure.
OLD IS NEW AND WE’RE STUCK WITH IT
By the end of the season we’re back where we started season ago. Scooby and the Gang have nowhere to go. The bad guys are coming to destroy everything and kill everyone. It’s the same cycle we have seen and will continue to see until the series is cancelled.
The problem with a series having no definitive story line or a planned ending is the series tends to wander and repeat a lot of the same story lines. Showrunners for the Game of Thrones, for example, had a story and plotted it out into eight seasons. The Walking Dead seems like it’s going to ramble on until the few remaining fans move onto something else.
AMC doesn’t seem to mind the falling ratings. The network is all in and betting sagging ratings won’t keep people from tuning in for more zombies, angst, and recycled plots. Not only has AMC already announced a series of Rick Grimes movies, the network canceled fan favorite Into The Badlands to add yet another spin off series to The Walking Dead universe.
Can the flagship series survive falling ratings, more zombie spin offs, and more cast members leaving the series? Danai Gurira has already announced she’s leaving the series for the much greener pastures of Disney’s ever expanding cash cow Marvel Universe movies. Gurira’s Billy Badass got old and got old quick. With that being said, most of the remaining cast doesn’t have the talent to keep this show alive and the writers have shown seasons ago they’re out of ideas. Will season ten be carried on the shoulders of Norman Reedus and Jeffrey Dean Morgan?