The Walking Dead and It’s Annoying Trend

Man, there are things I need to post about, but this one just can’t wait.

First, it should be said that I greatly enjoy the Walking Dead. One of my favorite shows, one that has so many flaws yet still delivers in a way that outpaces them. And I still think that, even though this post is going to be largely negative.

Am I upset Glenn’s dead? Sure. Am I upset Abe is dead? I mean, I guess, but he’s been living on borrowed time for at least two seasons so that just kinda fit. Overall, the scene was well done. It was brutal, gory, gave the characters a strong death, and was probably the best raw display of emotion any of these actors have displayed before. Something that, in watching the Talking Dead, really seems genuine. And once again, Jeffrey Dean Morgan is just fan-friggin’-tastic as Negan. I neither know nor care whether he is true to the comic iteration, this is a damn good villain.

So what’s my problem? Not sure if I commented on this last time, but their ending the finale where they did was, yet again, a trend of trying to nail its watchers with a cliff hanger. Off the top of my head, they also did this with the Governor and the assault on the prison (delaying the actual assault by three, needless episodes), they did it with the episode right before Carl got his eye shot out (when they walk right out the door with that kind whining to his mom), and they have done it with several episodes where they spend 40 minutes stretching out a conflict, the “suspense”, only to wait until next week to resolve it in 30 seconds.

This is a multilayered problem.

First, the Walking Dead stretches its content a lot. Sometimes it’s almost reminiscent of Dragon Ball Z (you know, like when it took Goku and Frieza like ten, thirty-minute-long episodes to have a five minute battle). I am all for a slow burn to build suspense, but the Walking Dead is filled with filler episodes or filler scenes, where you can watch half the episode and realize the plot has not progressed an inch, only for it to leap ahead in a minute or two.

Second, let’s be real folks, we’re all coming back. AMC can chill. The Walking Dead is one of the most popular shows on television, you don’t need to hit us with these cliffhangers every episode, every finale. You could make the argument that the reason the WD is so popular is because of these cliffhangers, but I would have to disagree. We return in spite of them, not because. The scenes I talked about above, including things like Glenn’s “death” under the dumpster and dozens of other scenes, are rightly criticized for being clumsy red herrings. Except for the end, last year’s finale was probably one of the single best episodes of the WD. It was terrifying and would have been perfect had it culminated in what transpired last night.

Lastly, and this is deeply connected with the second, it creates a disjointed experience. Instead of ending with a climax last season, we started with one this season. It disrupts the story rhythm, and with so, so much speculation and analysis occurring, I was literally surprised by nothing that occurred. Abe died, like many said. Then Glenn, like many other had said (with many even speculating that it would be a 1 + 1 because of Darryl’s involvement and Negan’s subsequent retaliation). Carl’s moment was a nice touch, but as soon as Negan started counting, I knew he wasn’t going to make him go through with it.

Don’t get me wrong. I had no problem with any of the content last night. It was pretty much everything I would have desired and feared. And the analysis that I am talking about, most of it actually occurred within that season itself, building up to that finale. More occurred afterward, sure, but it had its origins as the season built up toward Negan’s entrance. But that’s just it, it was a build up. I was ready. But for this, I came into it cold, having not watched the Walking Dead for a year. Had I gone into that juiced from the agonizingly suspenseful journey that got them there, I would have been floored.

As it was, I am just ready for the next season to start, having finally seen the finale from the last one.

Zombies and Frozen

I watched two things this weekend, one with my family, the other one without. The first was Frozen, the second was the Walking Dead finale.

I’ll let you figure out which was which.

I’m going to talk about the Walking Dead first, because there are spoilers for Frozen embedded deep in this post and I’d be more worried if someone read those than any spoilers for the Walking Dead.

The finale was…frustrating. It was great the way Darryl rejoined the group and Rick and Michonne slaughtered the Claimed folks. Rick has always been a character that was an extreme badass of the best kind…the type that doesn’t have to constantly prove it. The best moments in the series were when he shot that guy in the bar (Nebraska man…), killed Shane, and last night when he ripped that guy’s throat out with his teeth.

Because in the Walking Dead, people are made of playdo and that’s possible, but you get my point.

That was all great and then they arrived at Terminus. I don’t know why, but I honestly expected that place to be safe. I guess because I knew there was a colony that came up after the prison, I assumed this would be a fill in for that. They did a great job of building the tension. Things were too nice, too calm, and too civil. As it is, I’m still not entirely sure the Terminus folks are evil. They didn’t kill anyone, just locked them in a boxcar and took their stuff. Bad, sure, but not the worst and I wouldn’t be surprised if they had some BS reason. There was a lot of herding activity with them purposefully pushing them in a certain direction.

Of course, there was also the room filled with candles and no one with a cult vibe is ever good.

The internet has a year to stew on it so I look forward to the theories.

Now to Frozen. There will be SPOILERS!!

It was good, but I find myself debating about how much I enjoyed it. It’s certainly one of the most unique Disney movies, with a twist that just about knocked me on my ass. Up until that point I kept asking myself where the villain was. Sure, the Duke was obviously not a nice guy but he seemed like such a weak antagonist for a studio that has turned out some of the best of my childhood. The worst villain Disney has ever produced was the hunter from Bambi and look how that turned out.

So when Hans ends up being the villain, I was completely surprised. The genius of that moment wasn’t even the turning the Prince into a bastard. We’ve seen that before. The genius was in Disney using their own tropes, the themes and cliches they themselves have utilized over sixty-odd years of filmmaking, to make you assume Hans was the good guy and the Duke was the badguy. He even had an accent. Disney villains always have an accent.

Then there is the fact that it has two leading ladies, who are both fabulous and flawed, who friggin’ own that movie. Anna proves herself pretty capable and highly entertaining, with Kristoff just kinda tagging along for her shenanigans. Elsa is just as strong and possibly the only good Disney character who is, like literally, an unparralelled badass. I read that she was originally supposed to be the villain and I all I can think is that it was good she wasn’t because she would have wiped that dinky little country off the face of the planet.

I liked all the other characters as well. Kristoff is, frankly, obviously insane from his troll captors and I even liked the little snowman.

What I didn’t like was the music.

Apperently, I’m the minority on that. Sorry.

It just didn’t mesh well with me. Elsa’s song is good but the whole rest of it was forgettable to me, lacking a lot of the energy and charm that makes Disney musicals fun. It’s very well voiced, simply unnecessary. I had sorta hoped this was a trend, that we were leaving the music behind as it was growing dated, but I think that was just a bump in the road, especially since I believe Frozen had more music time than just about any other Disney movie.

All that said, it’s a great direction for Disney to be moving in. Like Tangled, it uses its own legacy, all the qualities we’ve all grown up on to breathe new life into these stories and make them something new. Tangled did it with some of its humor, Flynn Rider being the only character in Disney to notice and question the cast’s tendency to break out into song. Frozen did it in a much more important way, by making the sibling relationship more important than the romantic one, in fact, making the romantic one the antithesis of the character’s goals. That whole aspect was very well done and a huge success.

I look forward to the next story Disney turns out.

The Walking Dead: Claimed

This week’s episode was very similar to Cleared, in both theme and quality.

Once again, Michonne really proves to be a great character the more she’s fleshed out. My familiarity with the comic ended around the beginning of the prison so I don’t really know what is the show vs the comic, but either way I’ve really enjoyed furthering her back story. Getting her back with Rick and Carl was a great move, especially as her and Grimes the Younger cleared the house.

The moment where she walked into the pink room was a special kind of Walking Dead moment, the kind that shows you of the world that was lost.

Carl really gets the benefit of these story lines. I remember thinking at the end of last season that they were going to take him down the sociopath route, making him into the next Shane, but he’s really gone in a great direction and might actually be the most balanced character in the show now. He shows continual remorse about Judith, so I just know that’s going to be a great moment when they’re reunited (unless they really do kill her or him before then).

Then there was Rick’s nap, which started out kinda great. He really needed a break, and what better kind than to kick back and read some Jack London. Then, as always, people show up and ruin everything. It was especially intense and got more so when the two guys actually started fighting

Abraham is a unique character. At first he’s got the dangerous humor of Martinez or some of the other characters we’ve met along the way. The more you see him, though, the more responsibility you see him take up. He’s a good guy, doing a  good job, but apparently he doesn’t fuck around either. As we saw with Glen.

Then, of course, the zombies show up.

It’s funny how this show always punctuates moments with zombies. I remember reading a story about a mystery novelist who said that whenever the story needed something, he just killed someone. There were moments he didn’t even know who got killed or why, all that mattered was that they had to go.

Same thing with the Walking Dead.

I don’t really know what to make of the other two characters they’ve introduced with Abraham. The chick just kinda seems like a reason to have another hot girl (to balance out the immense gravitational field of attraction that Maggie generates). Then there’s Dr. Scientist guy, who was hilarious, but also had a mullet. Can’t really trust anyone with a mullet.

Everyone is steadily converging on this central point. I know that’s what a lot of people theorized would happen, but I’m looking for the twist they’re looking to throw out there. The fantastic advantage the show has is in using the comics continuity as bait. They did it with Shane, they did it with damn near everything involving the prison, it’s just a theme with the show now.

Either way, looking forward to seeing where it goes.

The Walking Dead is Back

Our Holiday Hiatus is over and the Walking Dead is back!

Tonight’s episode was a decent example of what the Walking Dead does really well, that slow burn type stuff, where we take a quick break to let the characters simmer on all that’s been going on. Rick looks like a Walker all by himself and spends most of the episode unconscious.

Carl was the majority of the episode and spent most of his time trying to prove he didn’t need his dad. The kid is one of those characters the fans seem to hate, yet he never really got on my nerves. Lori and Andrea, possibly two of the most hated characters in television during their run, had a tendency to do stuff that was out of character. This wasn’t the actresses fault by any means, it was bad writing and I’ve already written about that before. Actually…I wrote about it twice, and apparently it did bother me. Sorry, that’s kinda embarrassing, enough so that I had to point it out. Anyway, at this point in the show I understand where Carl is coming from. We’ve seen Rick make bad decisions, we’ve seen his entire family be killed, his whole world turned upside down multiple times. The part where he’s screaming at Rick, telling him everything he’s done wrong was great. When you compare it to the moment when he can’t shoot his dad (thinking he’s a walker) and tells him he’s scared once he figures out he’s still alive, it was very touching.

Michonne continues to be the perfect level of crazy. She doesn’t get very many emotional moments, but when she does, they’re great. Seeing her dream about her past, watching as it is hinted to what happened to her family while she continues to go about her day, was incredible. I think we’ll continue to see great things from her this season.

My prediction for these episodes is we’ll see everyone gather together again and push forward to the next step. This is where my knowledge of the comics starts to get fuzzy so I have very few predictions. Except for one of those girls totally being a serial killer, ala a fill in for Ben.