The Seven Year Itch Meets Its Match

To think. All it took was a black leather jacket, a Louisville Slugger and a dream. But The Walking Dead has finally achieved the catastrophic symphony I was envisioning seven years ago when AMC gave zombies their own IMDB’s.

For most of its first six years, The Walking Dead has felt an awful like a reality show. For one thing, it’s not real and we know this (Although someone might want to clue in Norman Reedus to this fact . . or not). As with a reality show, it’s scripted . . with the odd tinker and creatively bent riff breaking into the rote memorization of lines. It’s occasionally ugly and regularly self-absorbed, which are the requisites for basically any reality show. And while it evokes questions about our existence by gleaning the truth of many big picture prospects, it doesn’t feel applicable to our everyday lives so it’s coo if we lie to ourselves about the meaning of life.

As with the reality show that presents us with reconstituted stories, the plot evolution on Dead sometimes feels like a mind numbing, interminable process. To the point where it actually feels like a real time rut- the kind where you greet co-workers with the lame old standard “Same shit, different day”, and you buy overpriced Starbucks drinks that don’t work properly and you bitch about traffic and you sweat car bills. And all the while you know this too shall pass, and that some really bad shit is on the horizon and you really wanna be there when it does. Because it’s a welcomed release when you can dabble in a psychosis without, yanno . . being psychotic.

I’m not gonna lie, the Tara episode left me wondering why I watch this show at all. Because as much as I love The Walking Dead, they do offer up more dead space than a public access channel in Milwaukee. And I know there’s a purpose to all this character development shit, but I really don’t care. My friend insists this too shall pass- that a Tara episode which felt as if it had been written for the Lifetime Channel, has a point to it. If I was a graphic novel geek, I’m guessing I would share his enthusiasm, but I’m not so I don’t dig all the maintenance this show insists on.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this series has been devoid of horrible conclusions. Carl having to kill his mom was a pretty horrible scenario, unless you’re a Kardashian. And Bob losing his leg to a camp fire supper was some fucked up shit for sure. Carol watching her daughter die twice, and then the garden scene with her little protege? Agonizing. But it’s why Carol is, well . . Carol– and I wouldn’t trade her bloodthirsty pragmatism for anything. And yes, Walking Dead has gone through characters the way the Cleveland Browns go through quarterbacks. And maybe it’s just me, but it feels too spaced out at times.

So really, thank God for Negan and his black leather jacket and his Louisville Slugger and his dream of bringing civilization back- one caveman at a time. Up to now, the Governor had served as the most worthy antagonist to the Rick Grimes band. And while he was a a bat shit crazy murderer who collected human heads in fish tanks, the dude possessed nuance- he preferred his dinners by candlelight for chrissakes! Garth was a hipster douchebag who you could picture as a Hollister store manager before the world went dark. His lone redeeming quality was that he happened to be a cannibal, so it was a really good thing he only lasted five minutes.

Negan ain’t any of that. He’s a world of hurt unto himself. I fully expect if they do one of those flashback scenes with this dude, we’ll learn that he graduated at the top of his class because he murdered everyone else.

The “Sing a Song” episode married past to present. It was fleshing out and it was maintenance, sure. We got a ‘look inside’ the character and no one (important) died, but man . . . it was sure as hell possible. Every step of the way. That kind of intensity is exactly what this show needed. Negan is a value added character who makes every scene he’s involved in pop. I had grown tired of  learning about characters who are going to be dead sooner than Coca-Cola Life. The inconvenience of that baseball bat changes everything, thanks to the man who makes it swing.

Eighty percent of Dead is waiting for some crazy shit to transpire, and that’s why I watch. Because of that meaty twenty percent that is hell bent on cannibalizing all hope. It will murder the nuance of weepy music and character development and it will rain down with great vengeance and furious anger.

Maybe even next week.

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