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The Walking Dead and I are taking a break.

Like any relationship, the dynamic between a TV show and its viewer can at times get tense. Most of the time, these bumps in the road lead to one of two decisions: either the viewer accepts the show’s flaws and rides it out, or decides the magic is gone and makes a clean break. Between myself and The Walking Dead, however, things are unsurprisingly messier than a black and white description allows.

Here’s the thing. Season 1 of The Walking Dead, although only six episodes long, was very good. In the pilot, we saw the real world as we currently know it, and each episode beyond it felt very close to something plausibly relatable. The apocalypse was startling, and very tangible. Now, three seasons later, it’s impossible to remember that fresh feeling. 30-plus episodes of nonstop zombie (and human) carnage have rotted away the innocence and hope of the first season, leaving only despair, broodiness, and an ever-turning carousel of secondary characters.



Carousel is a morbid word in this context, but strangely, the humans in this show have become just as disposable as the lifeless zombies they slay by the dozens. Since the beginning of the show, well over half of Season 1’s regulars have been killed off, replaced by Woodbury citizens and alumns of The Wire. You’d think this would make the prison packed and seemingly full of life, which it is at the outset of Season 4. But of course, whenever we rejoin these characters in the apocalypse, everything goes wrong, and this season has been no different, with a deadly flu wiping out a solid chunk of characters new and old just five episodes in.

Coupled with the gleeful obsession The Walking Dead has with finding inventive ways to slaughter zombies, this human turnover rate is troubling. There’s no doubt that the make-up artists, costume designers, and graphic design personnel on the show are ridiculously talented. It’s just that placing such a heavy emphasis on those talents leaves the show devoid of any forward progress in narrative, which in this case makes hope pretty much nonexistent.

What’s going on in other parts of the world? How many survivors are really out there? Is there a cure, and if so, how can it be obtained? These questions have rarely, if ever, been touched upon, and it seems like a no-brainer (GET IT???) to have them play center stage in a post-apocalyptic world.

Of course, I’m not the expert here, and since 16 million viewers tuned in for the Season 4 premiere, more than the best episodes of Mad Men and Breaking Bad have ever achieved combined, the model is unlikely to change anytime soon. Why is everyone so content to keep circling the drain with these characters, though? Will it take the demise of a fan favorite like Daryl to turn these viewers against the show? Interestingly enough, beyond Daryl, there’s arguably no real frontrunner for second place in the beloved characters department. Rick, supposedly the lead of this drama, actually spent half of Season 3 in a catatonic state. Perhaps acting clinically insane with little-to-no dialogue is Andrew Lincoln’s specialty, but either way, was it necessary to let it drag on for so long? Every other character on the show got over deaths of their loved ones in less than an episode. Rick left Zombieland for nearly eight.

Then there’s Carl. Poor, sweet little Carl. He and Homeland’s Chris Brody have been neck and neck in the race to bland teenage boy supremacy for some time now, but Carl has arguably jumped ahead since the return of both shows this fall. Other veterans of the zombie-hell include Glenn and Maggie, who found love in a helpless place but I’m still not buying it; Hershel, who draws oft-ignored wisdom from either his beard or his fake leg (or both?); and suddenly murderous/exiled Carol, among others.

Where’s the depth in any of these characters though? Without anything to look forward to, each of them is a hopeless, one-dimensional body, as interesting to watch as the group of zombies banging their heads against the prison gate. Credit must be given to Robert Kirkman for creating the original comics, but his influence over the show now is far too strong—I’ll cite there being three showrunners in four seasons as evidence of that fact.



What is his plan with this show? Comics can go on for decades, but TV series of this nature aren’t supposed to have that sort of longevity. Can any fan of the show now honestly say they’d be just as invested in four seasons' time if nothing of positive consequence has happened? Maybe I’m the outlier here, and the ratings seem to suggest that. But just because a lot of people watch a show, doesn’t mean it’s anywhere near good. When the Governor showed up again at the end of last night’s episode, I knew it was time to take a break. He almost single-handedly took down this show in Season 3. It’s hard to believe his return will bring anything positive to a show pleased with recycling the same storylines of fear, near-death, and actual death.

If America just wants to stick to an endless pile of bodies, blood, and gore, that’s fine. Perhaps Hershel’s pleas for everyone to keep holding on run deeper than hope for medicine to keep them alive in an otherwise hopeless world. Maybe there is an endgame that results in happiness—but just like I don’t want to watch Ted Mosby take nine years to explain how he met his wife, I’m not going to watch this band of survivors continue to lose all hope until probably finding some kind of human oasis. Just get to the point.
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Dec 07, 2013
twd tried to be character heavy back in season two, and all everyone did, was complain about the endless monologing... I like the ever more hopeless fell of the show. I like that they kill off characters left and right. Twd is a drama show, not a action show. people who cant figure that out will be fated to love/hate the show.
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Dec 02, 2013
I do like this show but I feel like it will never be as good as Season 1. Being a fan of the comics, I am enjoying the way it veers away from the source material but I do feel like the show is getting to the point where it just wants to outgore/outkill/outdo previous shows without much thought to story. And that's a shame. But maybe that was inevitable since this is a zombie apocalypse. Maybe a better premise (perhaps the spinoff will address?) would be what happened just before the pandemic and in the early days when the world was just starting to go to hell. I would be interested in a Walking Dead "prequel" if you will.
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Dec 01, 2013
I like this show. I'd watch it for however long they keep me interested. The show could go on forever, with new characters, and new places to go. I see no end in site.
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Nov 30, 2013
I mean I understand your frustration with the show, because at times I just want to punch the screen due to what's happening. But I don't think the characters in this show will ever reach true bliss. They are struggling to survive and to stay human in a very much lifeless world. To tell any series, especially one with less than 40 episodes to get to the point makes absolutely no sense to me. I don't think the walking dead even has an endpoint in mind, although I hope tHey head to the safe haven in Virginia. And if this show does has an endpoint, you declaring not to watch until it gets to the point, makes no logical sense
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Nov 27, 2013
I agree that The Walking Dead show of today is not The Walking Dead of season 1 or 2. The problem is that "zombie fans" complained to AMC about the lack of zombies and killing on the show and AMC caved to the fans. I loved season 1 and 2, it was about these people in an extraordinary situation. They could have been in a world after a major natural disaster or nuclear event. I really loved the character driven storylines.

The show is still good, it just different. I also wonder what he point is sometimes. How is this going to end? Still, I enjoy it and I will stick with until the end (whatever that will be).
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Nov 26, 2013
Just get to get to the point? So, what you're saying is you are ready for the series finale?
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Nov 26, 2013
Actually, yes. Yes I am.
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Nov 26, 2013
I have great news for you! Next week is the series finale!

You can stop watching after next Sunday. (or now if you so choose)
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Dec 01, 2013
It's the mid season finale, not the series finale.
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Jan 10, 2014
Sorry Chris, I didn't realize you were being sarcastic. I thought you had misspoke. I love this show, and can't wait for it to come back on.
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Dec 02, 2013
Did you forget to turn on your sarcasm meter today? ;
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Nov 24, 2013
The Walking Dead is like Seinfeld. These people are not at the center of organizing a new world. They are the every day people. Ultimately, their journey does not change the course of history. They are doing what we would be doing. Surviving whether there is an apocalypse or not, getting through the day.Our days are full of a lot of shallow, meaningless, irritating crap and people. Movies like World War Z show the action hero torn between family and duty. The rest of us just have to get through the day, get some food, have some fun, and in that world, kill some zombies.
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Nov 24, 2013
Forgot to add- I find that fascinating.
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Nov 24, 2013
The show needs to be gain a lot of horror, some dark humor, and a little romance, beyond that multicultural we-are-not-racist-anymore sort of thing. And a real sense of progression is missing, WHY ARE WE EVEN WATCHING THIS? WHY AM I TYPING IN HERE?!
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Nov 21, 2013
yea i agree season 1 and 2 were bad but once the govenor came into the picture things started to pick up.Maybe i was used to watching night of the living dead and dawn of the dead 2 great flix in witch the newest version the zombies move really fast i mean they are like running after you and that makes it even more frightning

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Nov 18, 2013
Call me crazy, but I thought seasons 1 and 2 sucked... Honestly the show didn't get remotely interesting for me until the Governor came on the scene. Although I should say I only started watching less than a year ago, marathoned through S1-3.5 when I had nothing to watch. I only kept watching because everyone I know was giving rave reviews and I figured it would get better.

Maybe I was expecting TWD to be something completely different than it is (a supernatural drama as opposed to a survivalist apocalypse show).

Anyway, I'm enjoying the show now. Like it, don't love it. But it feels like a whole different show, one where I actually care about the characters. I no longer view them as Survivor 1, 2, 3 and so on. I actually care (somewhat) who lives and dies and am seeing everyone as individuals. (I love a good character drama). But between the radio, the governor's return, the mystery person feeding the zombies, and everything happening with Carol, I think we could be in for some interesting storylines.
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Nov 16, 2013
btw I don't think it's the situation per se that is the problem-but they are not writing in any moments of peace or joy or contentment......and why not? The characters could have been more resourceful when it came to dealing with the fence/walkers etc. Before the sickness came, they were doing alright.

I never did understand why they didn't just take over the town anyway. And last season their little group managed to take on the Governer and his co-horts, and suddenly this season they have lost their intelligence and creativity and are just hopeless???? Even before people start getting sick?????

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Nov 16, 2013
More and more characters are at the disposal of a plot which demands lots of gore and killings etc.-not cleverly done, nor with meaning, nor with black humour even....just for the sake of seeing ONE more screwdriver in ONE more zombie's head. It has been this way since the beginning of season 4. It was NEVER like this before. And I wish they would get a new SHOWRUNNER and bring back the old Walking Dead which I loved.


I would like to see that radio broadcast developed further. Maybe it will be. But unless they can get back to clever, meaningful dialouge and character driven storyline, it will still not be something worth watching, for me.

In this season I did enjoy the Carol storyline-although I still question the validity of her change-was this yet another manipulation of character in order to get to some plot or scenes that the writers wanted to push on us?

But apart from that, it was well done, and could have easily gone on several more episodes at LEAST.

I also liked the story of the woman who wanted to feed Rick to the head. Wonderful! It had all the nice touches of cleverly planned scripting, the surprise ending, but above all, it was part of Rick's dealing with his mental illness. It was designed with MEANING, and was well thought out. All along the way we ask ourselves if Rick should trust this woman, and I for one was SHOCKED by the ending. Liked the three questions as well.

I also enjoy most scenes with Michionne, the one with her and the baby was amazing, and her character development makes sense. Love it when she smiles.\

And we do need SOMETAHING more or different than this prison. It's feeling claustrophobic.

Maybe the Governer will add something fresh.....we'll see.

Personally , unless they return to quality scripts, I predict a decline in the ratings.
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Nov 16, 2013
Why does this show have to go in the direction you want. Why make it bigger than the prison! Little by little they have to move further out for food and medicine, but according to you it has to expand worldwide? They can barely survive where they are. By keeping them to a small location, I do believe the characters have developed and have depth!
Seriously would you have thought Carol would have done what she has? The characters are developing, maybe just not in the direction we all wanted.
They are surviving each crisis. Now with the Governor back, trouble awaits.
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Nov 15, 2013
I agree that the characters have no real depth. Perhaps they should incorporate more of the characters backgrounds and some sort of plan for the future. Something that they are aiming for or trying to achieve. I disagree that there's no real frontrunner for second place. I think that Michonne is a good strong character. They could do so much with the characters of Daryl and Michonne. Rick is a sort of wishy-washy leader and too indecisive. And they also need to bring Carol back or attempt to get her back. Just throwing her out there and not letting the viewers know her fate outside of the prison is just wrong.
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Nov 14, 2013
I agree with you , I am still gonna watch the show but I know it will never be really good.

I am not sure that the 16 million people who are watching the show are there only for the gore , many people seems to like the characters and the dialogues , and it's really a surprise for me.

I don't think the walking dead is a good drama , the characters are annoying and not charismatic at all , and the conversations that they have every week are really uninspired.
The action scenes are good sometimes but not mind blowing , it's pretty classic stuff , and it's repetitive , especially this season with the fence , so boring to see them killing zombies through this fence ...

and it's not a good horror show either , because every scary situation comes in a ridiculous way , a stupid mistake , a zombie who just appears out of nowhere , it's not scary at all.
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Nov 14, 2013
This review is a case in point of someone missing what Kirkman set out to write (comic or otherwise) in the first place. He never wanted to write a story about how to cure a zombie plague or where it all started and how it can all end, no. As hes said in numerous interviews, he would watch Dawn and ask himself after its over "but what now", "what happens after they escape the mall, the small town, the military base etc." "what does living in this world look like on a daily basis." THATS what the show is about, NOT finding a cure, or how it started. Look above you @vbeigelman the plot of this show is flying so fast over your head you can't generate a poor review fast enough. No im not some fanboy who thinks the show/comics are flawless (for that we'd need to see Gaiman's Sandman in live action, flawless) but by no means is it about any of the things you complain about. Basically you want to watch the stand alone versions of zombie stories not the sweeping story that Kirkman wants to tell. And that's ok you've the right to watch those movies but that doesn't mean you talk down about something just because its not your cup of tea. Just because you don't like something doesn't make it bad.
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Nov 14, 2013
Right, and just because you like something doesn't make it good. It seems like you're inferring that I think Robert Kirkman's original work is terrible. I don't. I'm sure the comics are very compelling (I've never read them), and frankly, my opinion is just that: an opinion.

What I do think is important to point out here is that there's a huge difference between TV and comics. Comics are very well suited for what Kirkman seems to want to do -- the daily "now what" life in a hopeless world. TV is not well suited for that, though. It's unnatural to have such a continuous state of hopelessness and character turnover rate. As a viewer, I want some kind of forward progress in a drama. This show is serialized (one continuous story) but it behaves like it's procedural with the "here's what's going on today in Zombieland" format.

You can't hang somewhere in the balance. If this is supposed to be a darker, unfunny Seinfeld with Zombies, where Jerry and George and the gang get up to something new every week, that's fine. Just make it clear that there's no hope, no forward progress, no endgame in sight. So we know what we're getting.
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Apr 05, 2014
Agree 100% re serial vs. procedural. I wish they'd purge the procedural 'story of the week' aspects and stick with the serial elements. The serial story devices make the series great not the story of the week nonsense.
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Dec 02, 2013
They made it clear in the season 1 finale, that there was no hope. I think that maybe you miss the point of the series. It's not about fighting the Zombie Apocalypse, the zombies are only a plot device. The show is about how people, when thrown into a disaster situation, act toward each other. Whether in the stress of the situation, they will do whatever is necessary to survive? Will they hold on to their long held beliefs and morals? Will they try to control the situation, and destroy any threats.? Or will they reach out to others in need, to try and rebuild some semblance of their former society? In the end, it's a character study into human nature.
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Nov 13, 2013
Maybe the spin off will give you what you need. Perhaps they will have more of World War Z approach? A team looking for answers, cures...etc. When the current episodes are done right, Walking Dead has " killed it" ( pardon the pun). This current show doesn't really need to have and endgame as long as the characters are written well and horror/gore/suspense keeps you glued to your seat. Now granted we make it to S6 or 7 and not much has progressed then fans might start to lose interest. (but that is unknown at this time) There has never been a show on like this before. IMO they can end the show anytime, as long as that show is compelling its all good. I have been thoroughly entertained..
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Nov 12, 2013
I guess you think we should all just watch "Hello Kitty" and forget about our favorite zombiefest. Ain't happenin'
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Nov 16, 2013
IKR!
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Nov 12, 2013
Scott Wilson (Herschel) gave an EMMY performance in this week's episode Internment. As for the ratings, it's no surprise, it's a tension filled roller coaster ride where you're rooting for humanity. Plain and simple it's life only the obstacle is so foreign, that we can't even fathom the enemy. Brilliant series, never lets this viewer down.
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Nov 12, 2013
I definitely can see where you are coming from, whether or not I agree on all points.

Unfortunately, if small towns are overrun with zombies, it is unlikely that there is much civilization out there. Also, after looking for a cure in season 1, ending up at the CDC to a man who said that there was no hope, no cure, and then killed himself, I'm guessing they gave up looking for a cure. Now, if it had just been Rick, Lori and Carl on the hunt, I would think that there would need to be people going. Maybe some recon missions would be doable, but without ways to talk to people out there, it is near impossible. The best way to survive and live is to set up stakes, and start trying to carve out a life for yourself. You would need to farm, grow food, take care of yourself, etc. Being on the road doesn't help you live. If no one is producing food, etc, then you don't have the luxury of an unlimited supply of food, as years after the apocalypse started (now) stores and homes would have been looted clean.

The other issues I have is that there is just as much (if not more) danger from survivors as there are from zombies. The few times someone has spoken and bandied about joining people, they have had some serious issues, between kill or be killed situations, and the crazy lady who decided being a zombie wouldn't be so bad.

I think that the new showrunners are getting to character development. I mean, we have seen a lot of new growth and aspects of people, including Carol. Carol is now someone who will do whatever it takes to survive. She understands why Rick killed Shane, now faced with trying to protect the group, she did the same thing. I think she also understands why Rick kicked her out. I don't believe this will be the last that we see of her. I think that she understood that even though Rick may have even done the same thing, the fact that she is acting alone, without group approval or anything, they can't have that. Then someone else will take the same initiative. Also, it will divide the group into two (at least) camps, and Tyrese will want her head. Especially since it didn't help anything.

Either way, I feel like we know the survivors a lot more now by their actions in situations as well as them talking. I like it.

I might have considered giving up, but I feel invigorated with this new season, and I can't wait for more.
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Nov 12, 2013

No, you're not an outlier, despite what the ratings might say. While I have nothing to base this on, I'll say that 1/4 of those viewers are like myself, entertained by desperately wanting this show to step away from the "zombie kill of the week" and contrived tension to the great work it was in the condensed season 1 or the introspective character study from their best episode thus far, 'Clear'. The relationship between Rick and Morgan is easily the most fascinating, yet all we've had are two measly episodes. Lennie James can carry a lot on his own, but it takes more than great singular acting. When he's on set, it seems the stars align and everything gets better, the writing, the acting, the direction...everything.

But Lennie James doesn't have to be there for this series to show that it actually has some chops. It has moments that are truly scary and touching and deep. The problem is that like my golf game, those moments of greatness are few and far between...but they are enough for me overlook my crappy putting and poor bunker play and keep me coming back to the game I love to hate, hate to love, love to love and hate to hate.

I watch this show because it's entertaining. I hate this show because it could be SOOO much better than it actually is. My frustration hasn't yet surpassed my enjoyment...but like a zombie that appears out of nowhere that I should have seen coming, it's likely a lot closer than I think it is.
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Nov 12, 2013
I totally agree with you that this show has really shined in the two episodes where Lennie James has appeared. He's a great actor, and portrays a very interesting character. It's not that we need him to appear as a regular, just that we need more similarly compelling writing pushing forward the characters we're with every week.
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Nov 13, 2013
And pushing characters forward doesn't count when all of their "development" happens during the off season and they come back completely different from when last we saw them. A big reason why I can't get behind the "new" Carol or Rick or Carl
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Nov 12, 2013
If they didn't keep the carnage coming we'd all be complaining about how it's straying from the bread and butter of the show. (see last season) The show is doing the best it's done in a while, including better character development.

My hope for the end of the show is that they get a firm end date, and thus they can start to kill all the characters off in the last few episodes. In the final scene, adult Carl is wielding two pistols and wearing the sheriff hat as a million zombies swarm around him. He runs out of bullets, looks up at the camera, and it cuts to black.
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Nov 12, 2013
I don't share the opinion, mostly because it gives me the impression that if ratings were only 6 million rather than 16 there wouldn't be any criticism to begin with.

I believe this show works - where others actually aimed at the demo don't - for many number of reasons; original pairings, actual stakes, believable reactions among those, but I would be watching it even if it were an underdog.
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Nov 12, 2013
"... suddenly murderous/exiled Carol..." yeah, still don't get that one. Stuck there for good I'm afraid.
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Nov 12, 2013
I bow to you for having the words and the balls to put this up. I agree with everything you've said. I often wonder why on earth I watch this show since all it does is infuriate the shit out of me. But you just reminded me why and I can't believe that I forgot this but I did. I watch it because Season 1, as short and as flawed as it was, was a good season. It was a good start to what should've been an excellent series. The premise was and still is full of potential and yet all we ever see is zombie-gore and mindless nonsense that caters to the bonehead masses. I don't blame you for giving up or taking a break. As much as we are seeing some changes and the first seeds (seeds? ugh!) of character development, there is still so much time spent on things that are about as exciting and entertaining as standing under an elephant with a shovel. Sure, the elephant is wise and majestic and adorable but I can't even see it from all of the dung that I keep having to scoop up.
The only comfort I have is knowing that there are people out there like yourself, who share my pain and I can only hope (because I'm an idiot who believes in hope) that maybe someday this show will actually develop into something that I'll enjoy watching as opposed to torturing myself every week with the sheepish mentality of holding onto an idea that died back in season one.
Thank you vbeigelman!
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Nov 12, 2013
I think Season 1 felt much greater in scope because of the city environment. Atlanta made things feel high stakes, high risk, and personal because cities are a lot more relatable to most people than rural farms or a prison.
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Nov 12, 2013
I agree and disagree with many of your points. I have to say though that I think Scott Gimple as show runner has proven himself - and they've announced he's sticking around as show runner next season which is a decision I highly agree with. I think this season, only a handful of episodes in, has taken on exploring humanity, morality, and hope in this post-apocalyptic world more so than the previous few seasons. I also think that the show has given the characters happiness, for instance the beginning of this season, but they just didn't depict it over the course of an entire season because that wouldn't be interesting television. As viewers I think we're to imagine the peachy-keene environment they lived in, a place where Rick laid down his gun and became a farmer, where they all started to live again. But just as in life, everything doesn't always turn up roses and things are bound to go wrong, they're also bound to go right again. The trials and tribulations the characters are experiencing are the same type we all do, just on a larger, more life-and-death scale because that's the world they live in.
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Nov 12, 2013
I totally agree. The point of the show is to explore how people live in a world that is over run with things that want to kill them, either dead people or living. Characters come and go as their story and contribution has gone as far as possible or they are impinging on the evolution of the story (in the case of Dale). So this show is about character development with some action and horror mixed in so that more people will watch it.
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