And yet, here we are again. One month until season 10 and I find myself to be naïvely excited. Maybe it’s because the latest trailer actually looked pretty darn good, or maybe it’s the optimistic zombie-fan girl in me, hoping that the writers will bin the predictable, washed-up tropes that have been bled to death in the previous seasons, and actually write something consistent for a change.
But before we discuss that trailer, let’s take a step back and review the highs and lows of the previous seasons.
For me, getting rid of Rick Grimes has been one of the best decisions of the show for a long time. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Andrew Lincoln. He’s a great actor who was the cornerstone of the show for a long time. The opening scene when he woke up in the abandoned hospital, is firmly cemented as one of the most memorable moments of the show.
Fast forward to season 8, which in my mind, will forever be known as, the ‘all-out war that never quite happened,’ not forgetting the montage of Rick’s sweaty death stare and repetitive call to action by King Ezekiel. And of course, the cartoonish depiction of Negan that was at times borderline pantomime. It feels like the show has come a long way from the bleak, isolation of that opening scene in season 1.
So when I heard they were getting rid of Rick, my initial reaction was outrage. How could they get rid of Rick when he’s so integral to the show? And then, in the episodes that followed, there was a new lease of life. We were suddenly reminded of the other amazing characters that had been relegated to the side lines. Remember when Daryl actually had dialogue longer than the odd grunt coupled with a slightly sweaty stare? Without Rick, the show could finally move on and give airtime to other more compelling storylines.
Of course, we know in truth it wasn’t the show’s decision to get rid of Rick, it was Andrew Lincoln’s decision to move on and try new things. Although technically speaking, this isn’t completely the end of Rick Grimes in the world of The Walking Dead. Rick will return in the movies scheduled for the next year or so.
At least we can be thankful that Rick’s departure was heartful. Unlike Maggie’s that was bizarrely brushed under the rug. It’s times like this when you realise how the writers and creators of the show perpetually sacrifice quality over quantity. Instead of taking their time and releasing the next series when it’s good and ready, they’ve agreed to a ridiculous deadline set by AMC. It’s not surprising that the writing suffers as a result. For such an important character in the show, Maggie’s departure was just plain weird.
Obviously we know outside in the ‘real world’ that Lauren Cohen left the show to pursue other interests, but due to the tight filming schedule her departure was never shown or even explained. She was simply cut out. We the viewers were told about it retrospectively, in a vague conversation that didn’t really explain anything. And that was the end of Maggie.
So you have to wonder, is it really acceptable to forgive the poor writing because one of the lead actors decided to take another job? Not really. If the creators of the show took more time to produce a quality series, they could have taken the time to explain it in a satisfying and convincing way that was fitting for the character arc. And this is just another example of my love/hate relationship with The Walking Dead.
Let’s move on to one of the best additions to the show in recent years, and that’s the legendary Sam Morton and her depiction of the deadly Alpha. In years gone by, we’ve seen several villains come and go in The Walking Deaduniverse, but none quite as terrifying as Alpha and the whisperers.
In the previous season, some of the most compelling moments, if not all of, included Alpha. Remember that scene with baby and the approaching walkers? Yep, that one stayed with me too. It could have been purely coincidental, but I found that the episodes that didn’t include Alpha, were distinctly lacking for one reason or another. Maybe it’s her soft, yet terrifying southern accent or the just the right amount of psycho in her calculating eyes. Whatever it is, she brings it and the show is better as a result.
So naturally, following my new found appreciation of Sam Morton in all her glory, you could imagine my excitement over the new trailer for season 10. With the log line ‘Silence the whisperers’ this captivating trailer sees the power couple Daryl and Carol reunited in their badassery, Michonne gets on a boat and sets sail on the open sea AND kisses Ezekiel, mixed in with a whole bunch of zombie bashing, light banter and all overlaid with Sam Morton’s terrifying southern accent. The trailer finishes with Daryl casually strolling over the boundary into the whisperers land and Alpha warning “Now you have to be punished–––”
From the trailer alone, the next season seems promising. But I still have that niggling feeling that the writers could fall back into the typical Walking Dead formula; the one where at the end of each season, they kill off a bunch of characters for the sake of it. Come to think of it, I can’t even remember a season where they didn’t do that? The most notable death that fell into this formula was Jesus. And damn it I really liked him, so his death was disappointing for all the wrong reasons. I’m not opposed to killing off characters, but it has to have reason…Otherwise, what’s the point? The supposed shock value, isn’t reason enough.
On reflection, the majority of my gripes are rooted in the rushed writing and not the acting itself. I have a huge amount of respect for the actors, and over the years I’ve grown to love these characters. I guess in some ways, I feel as though we’ve all been living The Walking Deadfor so long, we have to see it through until the end. Just please, oh please, make season 10 a good one.
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