Why The Walking Dead Mid-Season Finale Just Didn’t Do It For Me [Spoilers]
I’m aware this may be an unpopular opinion as The Walking Dead has risen to become one of the top television shows currently running on cable television, but as a lover of Robert Kirkman’s comic series, I am sorry to admit that the adaptation is really falling short. Perhaps it’s because having read the series, I can envision just how spectacular the show could be, or perhaps it’s the steady decline in well written episodes ever since Frank Darabount’s forced departure after season one. The lack of strong female leads is certainly a major contributing factor. But either way, The Walking Dead television series simply is not cutting it. It seems as though the average viewer is willing to overlook poorly written scripts and lack of character development as long as they see a few good zombie kills at some point during the episode. This completely takes away from Kirkman’s original intention for the series. He has always explained that The Walking Dead is a tale about the survivors, and how they cope in the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse. In fact, Kirkman created the series due to his love of zombie films, but since he always felt curious about what the survivors would do when the movie ended, he started writing The Walking Dead so there would be a long term tale. Zombie apocalypse’s don’t just end when the movie does, which is why The Walking Dead is currently up to its 105th issue. Now I’m not complaining about the zombie kills, because who doesn’t love seeing them? But when the best episodes of the season are the ones with the least amount of dialogue, I think it’s safe to say there’s an issue.
Now, for the most unpopular opinion of all; the television show has made me feel love and sympathy for the Governor (played by David Morrissey). Having read the comic, I hated the Governor. There’s no denying he was a terrible human being who did unspeakable things, but as far as the television show is concerned, I cannot find any evidence of his wrongdoing. It seems as though the only reason people dislike him is because of their preconceived notion of him from the comic, or because they were told about him from their friends who have read the comic. So far, the Governor has offered Andrea and Michonne refuge in his camp, nursed Andrea back to health, provided a safe and functioning community for his people, and even has a scientific program in place to help learn about the walkers, all the while stowing away his little girl who he lost to zombies during the apocalypse. So far, I’m seeing a broken man trying to make the best of his situation and protect the majority of survivors. At the weak “cliffhanging” end of the episode, the Governor ousts Merle to the community as a terrorist whose lie allowed their camp to be infiltrated. Again, this is completely justified. Putting my love of Daryl aside, the Governor has no intel about Daryl’s camp. For all he knows they could be a horrible group of people who are banding together to steal what he’s built for his community. And after finding out that Merle lied about murdering Michonne, (another potential threat to his people), and that the attack his camp just faced was made by Merle’s brother, it’s only natural that the Governor assume that Merle is a traitor. Right before the cliffhanger, we see the poor Governor get attacked by Michonne, who not only thrusts a sword through his little girls head, forcing him to experience her death for a second time and takes away all hope of ever finding a cure for her, but she also sticks a long shard of glass in his eye, causing him to lose his sight and begin wearing an eye patch. How could you not feel sympathy for this man? Even if this is the big turning point where the Governor starts acting irrationally and cruelly, I will still feel sympathetic for him because we saw exactly what changed his attitude.
My next issue is with all of the women characters on the show. Why are they all being painted as these weak creatures who rely solely on men for protection? We have Andrea, who started becoming stronger towards the end of season two, revert back to the scared young woman who lost her sister. She barely challenges the Governor about the things she disagrees with, and she is completely wasting her talent for accurate shooting by playing girlfriend to the man in charge. It’s only natural for someone to look for protection and happiness, but at what cost? The Andrea of the comic would not behave in the same manner as television Andrea. Next we have Maggie, who also started out strong in season two as she rode in on horseback and slayed a zombie in her first cameo. This same woman folds within minutes of being brought into the same room as Glenn during the interrogation they were facing while a very beaten Glenn stays silent and tries to protect their camp. I won’t even go into all of my issues with Lori because she is finally gone, and quite honestly, I could go on for pages and pages. Next there’s Carol. Does anyone really even care if Carol is around or not? She’s really only served as a background prop this season. I know some people who didn’t even realize that she had been absent for several episodes because she has played such a minor role. Although, I’m certain she’ll receive extra screen time during the episode they kill her off in (see T-Dog & the attempt to redeem Lori). Then finally, there’s Michonne; my favorite character from the comic who is nothing like her literary counterpart. Glen Mazzara tweeted earlier today “Michonne’s personality is actually based on a close friend of mine. If I were in a ZA, that’s who I’d want on my team.” Great, so it’s no wonder Michonne hasn’t done anything worthwhile yet since she isn’t even based on Kirkman’s character. In fact, she’s really coming off as the stereotypical bitchy woman.
Now, I’m not saying that I hate The Walking Dead. I still read the new monthly comic issues as they debut, and I obviously haven’t given up on the show just yet. The fact that I even took the time to write this post and sort out the issues is a clear indicator that it’s a storyline I’m passionate about preserving. As a longtime fan of the series, I’m really hoping that the TV show can get its act together by the mid-season premiere. I’ve never been one to be overly critical of adaptations because I understand that film and print are two completely different outlets. I’ve previously enjoyed that some story elements were changed (i.e., Shane, Daryl & Merle [another first season element by Darabount]) as it allotted for the element of surprise to the readers. But there’s only so many poorly crafted episodes that I can overlook before I start to lose interest. I even took the time to talk to some people on Twitter and converse with fellow coworkers who hadn’t read the series to see if their perspective had been drastically different than mine. What I’ve found is that even they were less enthusiastic about the mid-season finale than they had been last season. I really hope that things turn around for the show and that Mazzara gives us at least one strong female lead before the third season comes to a close.