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Posts tagged ‘The Walking Dead’

The Walking Dead: No. Eff you, you effing eff.

Even before the end of season 6 of The Walking Dead, I was so over this show. Having watched it religiously for 6 years, (even suffering through season 2), as a loyal fan, I felt completely disrespected by the showrunners. This is one of the highest-rated shows on television. There’s even a show AFTER the show, where the sole purpose is to talk about the show for ANOTHER HOUR. And yet, for whatever reason, The Walking Dead has turned away from even attempting to write compelling storylines, and instead has chosen to throw cheap tricks at us, for nothing more than a lazy grab at ratings they don’t even need.

The Walking Dead spent almost all of last season crawling along at a glacial pace, telling the same goddamn story they have been telling from the beginning–you either accept this new world as corrupt, or you believe there is salvation still to be had (except you’re wrong, you freaking idiots). Our heroes arrive at a town in Alexandria, Virginia, which has managed to escape the worst of the zombie outbreak. The people living there are naive to the reality of the world. And so we spend yet another season watching the consequences of people either choosing to accept it or not choosing to accept it. YAWN.

The thing that has always angered me about The Walking Dead, is that the show spends time making you care about these characters, only to rip them away from you, usually by the next episode. There’s a huge difference between killing a character for the sake of the story to move forward (i.e., Hershel), and killing a character just to kill them (i.e., pretty much everyone else). That’s not entertainment.

Let’s talk about the shit the show pulled with Glenn last season. He seemingly fell off of a dumpster and had his intestines ripped out and eaten before his very eyes. Several episodes later, we learn that the other guy on the dumpster had fallen on top of Glenn, and HIS intestines were being eaten, while Glenn pulled himself under the dumpster until all the zombies eventually shuffled away.

Why. Why would you do that? Why would you tell that story? It’s not a story! It’s a cop out. It’s a ratings grab. It’s bullshit. It’s disrespectful to the fans.

And then let’s bring in Negan–the show’s new Big Bad, who has been hinted at for quite some time, and has excited the fan base who has read the comics. Negan is pure evil. And everyone knew he was going to kill someone.

Of course, I tuned in for the last 10 minutes of the finale to find out: Who was Negan going to kill? Pulling the SAME SHIT they pulled with Glenn’s dumpster dive “death,” The Walking Dead hyped this finale up, only to make us wait until the next season to learn everyone’s fate.

Of course, I was not even the least bit excited to learn who got killed. The Walking Dead marketed the forthcoming death(s) as a game; as a teaser. Posting videos to their Facebook page of each character and asking, “Is this the end for Maggie?”, “Is this the end for Daryl?” No, I don’t want to play that game! These are characters that I care about. I have been with these characters since the beginning. I love them all. I don’t want to take bets on who is going to die!

So, season 7 opens with an extreme close up of Rick, sweating and wearing a smear of someone else’s brains on his face. People sobbing around him. Horrifying, horrible, awful stuff. Where is the entertainment value in this? We learn fairly quickly that it was Abraham who took the bat to the head again, and again, and again, until his head was nothing more than a puddle of blood on the ground. Where is the entertainment value in this?

Later in the episode (and the point at which I stopped watching), the bat is brought down on Glenn’s head. He didn’t die right away though. His eyeball popped out, and he struggled to say one last thing to his pregnant wife as she knelt horrified and hysterical, watching her husband (and a beloved character, plus one of the only Asian men on TV right now) ALSO have his head beaten to a soup of blood. Where is the entertainment value in this?

Not only did it happen, but we had to watch it. Violence for the sake of violence. Gratuitous horror for the sake of gratuitous horror. Why? Why?

I’m not buying Jeffery Dean Morgan’s portrayal as Negan–if this is supposed to be a psychotic, maniacal villain, Morgan is just not selling it. I imagine there are few actors in this world who can deliver the line “pee pee pants city” with any kind of believable conviction to make it not ridiculous. Negan doesn’t scare me, he doesn’t seem unhinged. Which makes the violence even more unnecessary than it already is. If the story is to demonstrate a psychopath, then yeah, maybe the brutal deaths would have been warranted. But Jeffery Dean Morgan is just not pulling that off. He’s not a worthy adversary to Rick. And frankly, I’m sick of seeing Rick’s sweaty hair in his face as he trembles in baffled agony at the events unfolding before him.

What I find particularly disturbing is the reaction of the audience to Negan. They couldn’t wait for this character to show up. Knowing how horrible he would be. Jeffery Dean Morgan is undoubtably a babe (Denny Duquette forever and ever amen), but what was this that I saw at Hot Topic last night:

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The description of this shirt on the Hot Topic website is:
“You really like the bad boys, don’t you?!

This fitted black tee from AMC’s The Walking Dead features a black & white photo design of Negan and his bat Lucille with text that reads “I (heart) Negan.”

There are not enough emoticons in the world to depict how I am feeling. This character BEAT THE LITERAL BRAINS OUT OF TWO CHARACTERS. HE’S NOT A BAD BOY, HE’S A SICK TWISTED MOTHERFUCKER WITH NO REDEEMABLE QUALITIES.

Seriously, what the actual fuck am I looking at? Negan is not a misunderstood emotionally unavailable man with a secret heart of gold and the ability to be saved if a woman loves him enough. This disturbs me to my core. Why aren’t more people angry about this? Where is the entertainment value in this?!?

You know who the target customer at Hot Topic is? Teenagers. Teenagers. TEENAGERS. (And me, but we’re not talking about that right now.)

The Walking Dead is one of (if not THE) most popular shows on television right now. Its scope stretches far and wide. Its marketing suggests entertainment in violent death, and now it glorifies villains. This shirt has a man on it, holding a bat that is dripping in blood, with the words a middle schooler would doodle on the sides of their looseleaf paper. Do you like me? Yes. No. Maybe. Circle One.

No. No. Fuck you The Walking Dead you fucking fuck. This show is dead to me. And yet, like every dead thing on this show, it rises back up from the dead and crawls toward me with evil intentions–it’s already been renewed for two more seasons.

 

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Why ‘The Walking Dead’ is Still Unwatched on My DVR

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SIGH. I’m starting to really get tired of The Walking Dead’s shit. Over the past 6 seasons, the show continuously got better and better. And yet, it was getting better at telling the same damn story. That story being: Who are we after the world collapses? And, also, this is the world we live in now, you have to adapt to it.

Well, fuck, I’m bored as hell with that! The first half of the current season was spent introducing us to a slew of new characters that we all know are gonna die eventually and probably pretty soon. All of these characters have had the privilege of living behind the walls of a neighborhood in Alexandria, Virginia, where some temporary geographical circumstances had the worst of the zombie mobs kept away from this pristine little place. All of the people inside are, obviously, totally oblivious to how the world works now. In marches Rick and his merry band of badasses who have seen some truly horrific shit, and now they have to co-mingle with a group of doofuses and, boy, do they butt heads! lol

Except, you know what? I already saw HOW many seasons of people accepting this new world? I’m over that. I got it! It sucks and you either die or you live. I don’t need to see the character development of some rando Joe Schmo who’s going to die in the next 30 minutes anyway. I don’t even need new characters! Stick to the main characters you still haven’t killed, they’re the only ones we care about.

I also really don’t need characters like Morgan believing that there is still redemption to be  found in all humans, and that killing is a mistake. Nobody has time for this shit, Morgan. I know you’re plot point one, but see plot point two: This is the world we live in now, adapt to it!

Not only am I just generally bored with the storylines, but the show gives us so much awful and hardly any relief. I know it’s a show about zombies eating people and people killing people. But the audience does get invested in these characters. Not only are they consistently killed, but we’re also hardly ever given some happy moments or satisfying ones.

Take the shit this season pulled with Glenn and the dumpster–we thought he was dead (which was awful), now he’s alive (but the reason is bullshit), and for most of this season, we’ve been waiting for Glenn and Maggie to be reunited. It happens, but WE don’t see it. I briefly saw Glenn walking toward Maggie in the infirmary after the zombie shitshow was over and all the annoying characters got eaten. I thought I was going to punch something. You put me through all of those hours of agony, and then you don’t even give me anything in terms of a reunion? Nothing? You couldn’t give me Glenn’s hand on a baby bump, or a simple kiss? Am I machine without feelings?

And people die now just to die. Their deaths don’t add anything to the story. Hershel’s partial beheading was the last death to really mean something to me on this show. His character was important. He had become a voice of reason and a leader. He was a good man. And killing him pushed the show’s storyline ahead.

Beth’s death? EFF. THAT. That was ridiculous. And what is Maggie going to do if Glenn dies? She’ll be sad. The end. What intriguing storyline can there possibly be with that? They’ve run out of character arcs for these people, so now they’re just doing cheap tricks (like pretending to kill Glenn) and recycling old storylines with new people.

And now I hear all of this talk about Negan, from the comics. I hear that he’s a horrendous person. I hear that he kills a beloved character by bashing his brains in with a baseball bat. So Sunday’s episode of The Walking Dead is sitting unwatched on my DVR. Because here’s what I’ll find when I hit play: Boring overused storylines, death and pain and no satisfaction or gratification, and the promise of terrible things to come. I just don’t know if I can do it anymore. Nah, you know what, I’ll probably just go watch it.

No, wait, there was a moment of satisfaction recently. When that weird kid got eaten by the zombies. Finally. Yeah, that part was great.

sam

Tiptoe through the tulips indeed, Sam.

 

The Weird and Wonderful Sub-World of Internet Shipping

Daryl and Carol

No, I don’t mean shipping as in FREE with a purchase of $35 or more from Amazon.com.

Nor do I mean ship in the Titanic sense of the word (though that is closer, more on that later).

I’m talking about a “shipper,” that is, a fan of a television show who very strongly supports the relationship union between two characters.

The term “shipping” (“shippers” are those who ship) originated in relation to television characters as early as 1996, when it was used within an X-Files newsgroup in reference to Mulder and Scully, one of television’s most famous Will They/Won’t They couples. “Shipping” is derived from “relationshipper,” a word used to describe someone who avidly wishes for a romantic relationship between characters to occur.

Shippers range from the enthusiastic, to the fanatical, to the delusional. The practice of shipping imagines that fictional characters get together, but sometimes these imaginings are canon (that is, they do occur on the show). Other shippers ship unions between characters that are likely to never happen for a variety of reasons within the storyline. But most are so insistent in their belief that characters should get together or will get together despite what may be happening on the show, that they absolutely won’t hear otherwise.

I’ve dangled on the outskirts of this interesting little planet for about 2 years and have dabbled in immersing myself in the culture that is rampant on websites like Tumblr. It’s a fascinating place to be. Shippers have their own language they use and they have their own battles. The acronym “OTP” or “One True Pair” is used to label a ship. OTP’s are the only acceptable pairing, the ship of ships, and usually the person’s favorite pairing of all the various ships they might be invested in (though fans can have multiple OTP’s).

“Slash” is used to refer to homosexual pairings. These pairings usually occur solely in fanfiction. The most famous (and arguable first) slash pairing was Kirk and Spock from Star Trek. The “slash” refers to the punctuation between the character’s names to identify them as a pairing (Kirk/Spock, for instance).

Kirk and Spock

Then there are “Shipping Wars” which occur between supporters of contradicting OTPs—two relationships featuring the same character paired with different love interests. These shipping wars are exacerbated with shows that have a love triangle, such as The Vampire Diaries, which has as many die-hard supporters for Stefan/Elena (Stelena) as it does for Damon/Elena (Delena).

Shipping truly is its own sub-culture on the internet. Fans will write fanfiction featuring these characters, will photoshop their heads onto bodies of people actually embracing, and if the show in any capacity puts these characters together in an episode (even if they’re only sharing the screen and doing nothing else), the fandom will EXPLODE with screencaps and gifs and long posts analyzing every single thing that happened between these two. They’ll include reaction gifs of things like the Titanic sinking with Dido’s White Flag lyrics superimposed, “I will go down with this ship.”

I will go down with this ship

It’s hilarious and wonderful and so intense.

And it’s the intensity that I find fascinating. My interest with shipping was recently piqued with the return of The Walking Dead and subsequently the return of the Daryl/Carol shippers (referred to simply as Caryl). Women love (I love) Daryl. He’s a bad boy with a leather jacket and a crossbow and a motorcycle and a secret, hidden heart of gold. We have maternal, protective instincts about him as we watch his character development slowly progress through now 5 seasons of the show. We love him. And because we love him, we want him to find love.

Enter Carol, who had a storyline with Daryl during season 2 and so it begins. Carol appears a lot older than Daryl, and has had her fair share of excellent character development. Their relationship has certainly been a slow build but my question is: Is the show even taking them towards a relationship?

Daryl and Carol

I’m kind of thinking no. I’m thinking the showrunners put these scenes in because they know it will drive the shippers crazy and they know the shippers are an important demographic of their audience. I think Daryl and Carol share a friendship and a connection but it’s not going to be a relationship. But if you look on Tumblr, these shippers won’t hear of it any other way.

Immediately following every episode of The Walking Dead on Sundays you can find gifs upon gifs upon gifs of mere moments between Daryl and Carol. They’ll analyze each facial expression, each camera angle, each gaze and breath and movement. They’ll caption it with things like, “YOU CAN’T TELL ME THIS ISN’T LOVE” or “IT’S COMING. MY OTP IS HAPPENING” (forever in caps for particular emphasis).

How this scene didn't break the internet, I'll never know.

How this scene didn’t break the internet, I’ll never know.

And the thing is, even if I think they’re wrong, they’re so much more invested in the show than the average viewer. Their emotions are higher, their excitement is greater, and their desire is fiercer. They don’t just watch TV shows, they consume them. They pick them apart, they talk to each other about it, they care more. And in doing so, I would argue, they enjoy the show more. They are more of an active audience and they’re having fun. Even if it’s agony to wait and see if two characters will get together, they’re experiencing shows on a level that showrunners can only dream their shows will one day be experienced. I would liken it to the sense of community and the emotionality someone might feel about their favorite sports team winning. It seems crazy. But it’s not crazy, it’s just love. Fanatical love. But love nonetheless.

And isn’t that kind of great?

The Walking Dead, 4×14: That Scene. No, Not That One. The Other One.

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I want to talk about the events of last night’s The Walking Dead episode, ‘The Grove.’ But first I have to say: SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS. So read only if you, y’know, want to be spoiled.

I have refrained from writing about The Walking Dead until now because I love the show so much that I feel like I can’t articulate it well. Whereas scathing criticism comes naturally to me, when I try and talk about things I love, it always just comes out as a string of, “OMG FDIFJDLF THAT WAS AMAZEBALLS, I CAN’T EVEN. OMG.” Which, y’know, nobody wants to read (except Tumblr, with accompanying gifs). So I’ll do my best here but just know that I don’t have anything but sheer praise and worship to bestow upon this show, and therefore have difficulty forming coherent sentences.

Every week I am astounded that The Walking Dead manages to outdo what it did the previous week. The back episodes of season 4, following its winter hiatus, have been the strongest and most compelling episodes of the series so far. With the characters separated into various groups (and most convinced that everyone else is dead) following the tragic events at the prison, each episode either focuses on one group, or a handful of groups. Rather than being disjointed, these episodes unite each arc under a common theme. Particularly strong were the kinda-bottle episodes that focused on only: Rick/Carl, Beth/Daryl, and now this episode which centered on Tyreese, Carol, Lizzie, and Mika. Removed from the action and the larger cast as a whole, these character-centric episodes allowed the deepest and most intimate examination of humanity in this new post-apocalyptic reality that we have seen on this show yet.

‘The Grove’ contained revelations that the fans have been waiting for all season, with paramount suspense. We (and by “we” I mean “I”) thought we knew what those revelations would be but The Walking Dead never fails to surprise. I’m referring specifically to who killed Karen and David. Because I thought (and I think a lot of the internet thought as well) that it was always Lizzie, and that Carol covered it up and took the fall for it. But we learned in this episode that it was, in fact, always Carol. I hate being wrong. But what I like is that with it always being Carol who committed that crime, it seems that Carol really didn’t have any idea how sick Lizzie truly was.

Which I find strange because Lizzie has consistently said odd things throughout the season, with an eerie detachment from emotions. Why did no one find her behavior disconcerting? She always struck me as manipulative and sociopathic, if not schizophrenic, and it seems her younger sister was always aware that there were some mental health issues present. No one picked up on this? Is it because this new world of zombies has forced everyone to develop a detachment from their emotions? But Lizzie’s just a kid.

Particularly concerning in last night’s episode was Carol’s non-reaction to Lizzie’s dramatic and borderline psychotic reaction to Carol killing a walker that Lizzie was “playing tag” with. Lizzie screaming, “YOU KILLED HER! SHE WAS MY FRIEND! WHAT IF I KILLED YOU? YOU KILLED HER! YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND.” Carol walked away from that encounter seeming to think that Lizzie was still just confused about what walkers really were, and perhaps had thrown a temper tantrum. (But Lizzie is like, what, nine, ten? Do ten year olds still throw temper tantrums?)

Equally chilling was the scene where Lizzie fed a walker a mouse, and told her sister that she could hear them, that they wanted her to be one of them, and that maybe she should join them so that she could prove to everyone that she’s right. She stretched her hand out for the walker to bite her, but then a bunch of walkers showed up (as they always do, to literally push the plot forward by chasing the characters). Lizzie ended up having to kill some of them herself, though she wasn’t happy about it. Carol asked her later did she now understand what they were and Lizzie responded, “I understand what I have to do now.” That is not what Carol asked, Lizzie! Carol, open your eyes!

I admit, while I did think Lizzie was going to attempt to kill someone else, I thought it more likely she was going to kill herself–to come back as a walker and prove to everyone that they’re still people. Or at least they’re something else altogether. What actually happened was…horrifying. Lizzie, killing her sister. Carol and Tyreese returning from hunting to find a knife in Lizzie’s hands, her hands dripping blood, her sister on the ground beside her, stabbed to death, and baby Judith perched on a picnic blanket, unaware of the horror unfolding at the world’s worst picnic.

As Carol and Tyreese rushed forward, terrified yet calm, Lizzie says, “Don’t worry. She’ll come back. I didn’t hurt her brain.” Then she mentions how she was just about to do this to Judith too. Carol steps forward but Lizzie pulls out a gun and points it at Carol and insists that they have to wait for Mika to come back. Meanwhile, I’m sitting on my couch clutching my cat and screaming, “SOMEONE PICK UP THE BABY. GET THE BABY.” Carol manages to coax Lizzie away with the false promise that she just wants to tie Mika up for when she comes back. She sends Lizzie off with Tyreese and Judith (um, sending Judith anywhere with Lizzie would not have been my first instinct, but OKAY) and then Carol breaks down and cries, before stabbing Mika in the head to ensure that she doesn’t turn.

The episode concludes with Carol doing what needed to be done. She takes Lizzie out into the grove (y’know the grove of ‘The Grove’). Lizzie begins to cry and begs Carol to not be mad at her for pointing her gun at her. (Not for, y’know, murdering her sweet younger sister with the intention of murdering an INFANT next. Just don’t be mad she pointed a gun.) Carol tells Lizzie to look at the flowers, to just keep looking at the flowers, and then Carol kills Lizzie, executes her really, but it had to be done. How very Of Mice and Men.

And I sat there and thought that while I can sit on my couch in my heated apartment as someone not in the midst of an apocalypse and say assuredly that killing Lizzie was the right thing to do and absolutely had to happen, I can also recognize how complicated that actually is. Carol had to murder a child. Granted, one that was dangerous, sick, and could not be trusted. But a child nonetheless. It added another layer to this world of The Walking Dead. The choices that these characters have to make. Where are the lines of right and wrong as they are newly defined in this world? And how does anyone live with themselves after making decisions like this? These questions aren’t new–The Walking Dead has been asking them from the beginning. But every season, the circumstances surrounding them get more chilling, complicated, and difficult. Who will Carol be after this? She lost her daughter. She killed Karen and David to protect the rest of the prison from the flu outbreak and it didn’t work. She swore to protect these two little girls–these surrogate daughters–and failed. She had to kill one of them. What impact does that have on her going forward?

And can I love this show more?

But I actually didn’t write this to talk about the scene where Lizzie kills her sister. Or the scene where Carol kills Lizzie. I wanted to talk about the scene where Tyreese tells Carol about his nightmares (which is the scene right before they stumble on the nightmarish image of Lizzie brandishing a bloody knife over two children, one of which is dead). This scene absolutely blew my mind. Carol in the foreground, Tyreese in the background, clutching a gun. With Carol’s back turned to him, Tyreese explains that he thinks they should stay at this house they’ve found instead of heading towards this alleged sanctuary called “Terminus” because they’re “not ready to be around people yet.” He then proceeds to tell Carol that he has nightmares every night about Karen, and “some stranger” who kills her. The whole time clutching his gun and the whole time Carol refusing to turn and look at him.

The brilliance of this scene lies in the suspense. We, the audience, know that Carol knows who killed Karen and David (though we didn’t yet have confirmation that it was Carol who did it), and Carol knows who killed Karen and David as well. But at the same time, the audience suspects that Tyreese also knows–the way he’s talking, clutching his gun. And Carol suspects it too. She standing there waiting for Tyreese to take his vengeance, and the audience is sitting there watching and waiting for it to happen as well. But the scene ends with Tyreese still unawares who killed them, still trusting of Carol completely.

It was mind-blowing! That level of suspense for a secret that only the audience and Carol share in this scene. The way The Walking Dead tricked us into believing one thing and doing another. And this is what I love about this show. The zombies are scary, and it’s true that you never know when they’ll show up and when someone will die (though it’s pretty obvious when they’ll show up at this point–which is at every opportune moment). But the scariest parts, the most suspenseful parts, are when the audience asks itself, “What will these characters do to each other?” 

Which is so much more compelling. These characters aren’t afraid of zombies anymore. They basically take them down as though swatting particularly large and pesky flies. They’ve become desensitized to them. But they fear each other. And themselves–the people they’ve become. And the parts of the show that are scariest to watch are the interactions between the humans as they struggle to hold on to humanity within themselves.

So, y’know: OMG FDIFJDLF THAT WAS AMAZEBALLS, I CAN’T EVEN. OMG.