A lot of people have been ragging on The Walking Dead since it started. And then again in Season 2, which was pretty rough. And also Season 3, which was spotty. Then Season 4 came around and that… also wasn’t very good. Season 5 started up and that’s when it really started getting… about the same. Then came Season 6, which, come to think about it, was that like an anime filler season? Then the Season 7 premiere happened and everyone lost their minds, and they spent the whole time introducing a bunch of garbage people and a women-only commune by the sea, both of which they seem to have completely forgotten about.
Actually, before we get into Season 8, let me bring you up to speed on what this show is about. It’s a show about zombies, sort of. Really it’s a show about humanity rebuilding after a zombie apocalypse, slowly going through the beats of a long game of Civ — hunter-gatherers become nomads, nomads become tribes, etc, etc, and now this season is about multiple kingdoms interacting and going to war. In another sense, it’s a show about nothing happening for 6 episodes until you’re about to give it up forever, and then one episode being amazing so you keep watching for another 6 or 7 grueling episodes.
If you’re not a Walking Dead fan, let me break it down for you so far. These are spoilers… not that you should care.
Season 1: Zombies happen. It’s basically Night of the Living Dead. Mostly boring, except the first episode and Rick meeting Glenn. Watch the first episode and skip it.
Season 2: They ran out of budget because Season 1 was so boring so they filmed the entire thing on a farm. The whole season is about them searching for someone’s daughter. Surprise, she’s dead. Rick shoots his best friend who’s been an unbelievable dick the entire time. That’s everything you need to know about this season. Skip.
Season 3: They started following the comics more closely after they realized how unbelievably bad season 2 was. They find a prison and live there, Rick hangs out with some prisoners who turn out to be bad eggs and chops one’s head open like a melon. Best episode in the series to this point. They introduce the Governor, who is like… an evil accountant or something, with an eye-patch. Anyway, he turns out to be a real asshole. This season is actually pretty decent. Start here.
Season 4: They go to war with the Governor. The Governor fucks them up because he is a straight up G and he has a tank. He executes Maggie’s dad. During this, Rick is going insane, or maybe it’s season 3. Fast forward through everything about that. He’s all conflicted about his wife dying, but she was terrible on the show and no one liked her, she had zero chemistry with Rick and bounced into another relationship with his now-dead A-hole best friend right after he went into a coma. There’s no reason he should be this sad. Their prison compound is blasted to shit so they go on the road again. They wander around in the woods for 7 episodes and then someone tries to rape Rick’s kid and he goes beast mode and rips the dude’s throat out with his teeth. Skip every episode after the Governor leaves except this one.
Season 5: They get kidnapped by some cannibals and it gets good for another 3-4 episodes. The cannibal thing plays out in the first few episodes, and then they do a 6 episode side-story about a character named Beth who no one likes or cares about which ends unsurprisingly in her dying. They could have just had her stop showing up and no one would have even asked about it. They meet up with some guy who wants to recruit them to a walled community called Alexandria, which is some nice DC suburb for upper-middle class people and has all sorts of sustainable clean energy, food, etc. The crew gets there and Rick is basically a wild animal at this point. He thinks everyone there is soft and murders a wife-beater then bangs his wife, then gets her killed. This makes him the de-facto leader of the community. It makes sense when you watch it.
Season 6: Rick is on top of the world, they take down a goon squad for some neighboring community led by the most obvious rat anyone has every seen. Oops, turns out that goon squad belonged to a full-fledged army and they round Rick and co up and murder a fan favorite character who’s been around since Season 1. Skip the entire season except for the finale, and then watch the premiere of the next season like it’s a two-parter.
Season 7: Negan, the leader of this other group, makes an appearance. The aforementioned murder happens — actually it’s a double homicide — and the entire season is about Negan making Rick, who is an unbelievable badass, into his bitch. He goes a little too far so Rick hits rock bottom and says ‘fuck this’ and goes to recruit some whack-ass trash people and a guy with a tiger. This season is probably the only one that breaks the 7 crap episodes and one awesome episode pattern by evening it out into all ‘meh’ episodes. Not sure if that’s better or worse. Anyway, this season is alright but it makes a hard left turn from ‘survival horror’ logic to ‘comic book’ logic.
Now that you’re up to speed. Here’s my review of Season 8 so far:
It’s a jumbled mess of time-lapsed intercutting that serves no purpose. It’s like someone gave the camera to an artsy teenager and they totally *overdid it*. The first episode is pretty much 35 minutes of nothing happening and then 10 minutes of all these insanely experienced zombie-snipers missing their target at point blank range. The second episode cuts between — I shit you not — 5 different groups and somehow still feels like they’re padding it with minutes-long sequences of people getting shot at whilst not moving. It’s somehow busy to the point of being incoherent and lacking in substantive plot movement to the point of being a snooze-fest at the same time.
Still, I hold out hope that if I sit through 6 more of these episodes I’m going to see Rick snap again and decapitate a trash person with his bare hands and slowly force feed its body parts one at a time to a prisoner of war or something. Actually, I know that doesn’t happen… but hey, in like a season and a half we get a story arc where (SPOILERS DUDES) some psycho bitch in a zombie suit murders all of Rick’s best friends. That’s something to look forward to.