By Lissa Harris
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!!!
Watching Alexandria get overrun by walkers in the mid-season finale of AMC’s The Walking Dead last Sunday, I felt the same heartbreak as when they overran the farm in the season 2 finale.
I want these survivors to be able to stay somewhere for longer than a couple of months. How many times can we hear someone say, “We could really make a life here,” only to be proven wrong by the onslaught of walkers, cannibals, savages, etc.? As Enid says to Glenn, “This is how it happens, and it always happens.”
The entire episode gives us more than enough viewpoints of what I call the “precious life” vs. “kill to survive” debate that has been threaded throughout the season so far. Maybe too many.
Locked away in a basement room, the Alpha Wolf gang captive is like True Detective’s Rust Cohle. He believes that the survivors are all anomalies just waiting to be “set free.” In the same room Dr. Denise tells the Wolf, “You weren’t born this way, you changed. You can change.”
Then Carol and Morgan enter the basement. Carol threatens to kill the Alpha Wolf and Morgan, too, if he gets in her way. Morgan won’t let her, because “all life is precious” – even black, beady-eyed, yellow teeth, evidently evil life. The two fight it out, setting up Alpha Wolf’s escape with Dr. Denise held hostage at gun point. In a twist of fate, Carol seems to have become the liability she is always trying to remove from the group. And we’re still no closer to calling the debate’s winner.
Before she dies from a zombie bite, Deanna explains the right answer to why Rick saved her son, which I covered in last week’s blog. The right answer is not that Rick is a good guy, as I had thought, but because he is a part of the Alexandria family. Meh. It’s hard for me to empathize.
Knowing what Rick has done to protect his own family over the course of six seasons, I think the residents of Alexandria should have gotten down on their knees and begged Rick to lead them right from the start. I understand that they don’t know Rick like I do, but I’m the one whom the writers should be writing for. Deanna’s deathbed scene with Michonne was touching and, at the time, gave me hope that healing is possible even in the most heinous of circumstances.
Then we have some throw-away theories to contemplate. Tara, trapped in a garage with Eugene and Rosita, implies that the survivors have a debt to pay in order for them to deserve to live in a place like Alexandria. Rosita quickly—and correctly—calls this point of view bullshit. In an annoying sub-plot with Ron and Carl, they argue about whose dad is the worse killer, pitching their own analysis of their overall situation. Much like Carl’s inability to grow into his father’s hat, the young actor Chandler Riggs has yet to grow into his acting chops. I laughed when Carl delivers this line to Ron, “You need to know something: your dad was an asshole.”
Maybe if the writers had focused more on creating drama that had the same intensity we’re used to seeing on TWD, and dispensed with giving every single character a point of view, then this episode would have been better. It was nowhere nearly as exciting as mid-season finales of seasons past.
Little did we know that Tiny Tim’s “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” in the opening soundtrack was foreshadowing this mid-season finale’s final scene, but it still wasn’t enough to take my breath away.
Remember last season’s gut-wrenching moment when Maggie drops to the ground at the sight of Daryl carrying Beth’s dead body? I felt horrible for days afterwards. Or when Rick shoots a turned Sophia, Carol’s 8-year-old daughter who the group had been searching for in season 2? These scenes were horrifying and dripping with drama.
Besides the lackluster drama, the show just keeps adding more plot holes we have to swallow: throngs of walkers who disappear or conveniently thin out, babies who never cry, CGI ants, kids who never act like kids—oh, wait, that last one remains to be seen, but I’ve made my point. The Walking Dead is a good show, but even a good show can have a bad season. I’m reminded of “Homicide: Life on the Street” and the last terrible season of this otherwise mind-blowingly great show.
Is this where TWD is headed? I don’t know yet, but the quality of the second half of season 6 may determine the show’s fate. We’ll know next February when it resumes.