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March 10th, 2017

There's a particularly unpleasant person who lives in New York City who calls me "Zombie Boy" even after I have asked him not to. He does this in a deliberate attempt to be condescending, but I gave him the opening by speaking approvingly of The Walking Dead sometime in 2012. That would have been season 3 of the show, when Rick and crew found the prison, cleared it of zombies, and set up house there. The Walking Dead was arguably a much stronger show then than it is now in its 7th season.

It used to be that my friend Marty and I, and later Olga, would get together on Skype the day after each new episode to share our responses to it and record content for our Z-Realm Podcast. To do that, I would have to make time during the day on Monday to watch the episode. I just finished watching episode 12 of the current season. It's Friday night, and the episode aired last Sunday. I've had several opportunities to download and watch it over the last week, but it was never anything I wanted to do. Now that I've seen it, I'm as pleased with it as I can realistically expect to be, given the recent performance of the show. It wasn't as good as last week's episode which featured Eugene embracing his role as one of Negan's inner circle of henchmen and learning to boss people around from his position of privilege. That was a real keeper.

This week, Rick and Michonne were on a romantic getaway for two that involved ransacking houses, looking for food and guns, and making passionate love in a variety of locations that didn't seem all that safe or secure to me. I really enjoyed the opening scene that was essentially a soundless montage of ultra-competent scavenging teamwork and rapturous sex accompanied only by a minimal musical score. Then other characters, some of my least favorite these days, intruded and dragged the episode down a couple of points. Still, it wasn't terrible.

The Walking Dead has a knack for taking appealing characters and turning them into annoying crybabies. The primary example of this trend was Andrea who was a badass for the first two seasons but who turned indecisive and useless once she met the Governor. She is such an important character in the comic that she had to be replaced with Tyrese's sister, Sasha. In the comic, Tyrese didn't have a sister, but since Andrea had grown too annoying to be allowed to live, the writers had to introduce a new female character with a preternatural knack for sharpshooting to take Andrea's place.


Over the years, Rick has gone through phases where he needed to be put out of our misery, but he is the seemingly indispensable character, and he always got his mojo back. I now wonder if Glenn got shown the exit just in time to avoid the fate of turning annoying and having people cheer rather than mourn his grizzly execution. Once a character starts sliding downhill, they can go from exhilarating to excruciating in a short period.

Currently, Tara is my least favorite character. In this week's episode, she has a conversation with a toddler in which she reminds the viewers that she is struggling over her promise not to reveal the existence of the well-armed group of women and girls whose sizeable armory would be the answer to Rick's prayers. It's a shitty assignment for a writer or an actor, agonizing over the need to break a promise without actually talking to anyone about it, at least not anyone who understands the meaning of your words. Personally, I'm slightly offended that the writers don't trust me to remember that she was recently in a community that has lots of guns and that her home team really needs guns right now. Rick and Michonne's side-quest is all the reminder I need.

Rosita was once an appealing character. Now, she seems to be a ball of survivor's guilt and ineffectual rage. I'm not sure where she and Father Gabriel crossed paths. From the moment of his introduction, Gabriel was worse than useless, a character whose grizzly demise I pined for, but he's been on the rise for most of this season, and Rosita has been on the decline, and wherever they crossed, their positions have not clearly been reversed. Their scene in the chapel cemented their new status. Rosita blamed Father Gabriel for her failures, and he admitted that he was a useless fool and in the process managed to score several points on her. The episode ends with Sasha and Rosita making a death pact to take out Negan.

I've read people's opinions about how and when the show went wrong and what it would need to do to get back on track, but none of them seem to take into account that the TV show is an adaptation of a pre-existing work, a comic book. The larger story is already mapped out. The big players, their clashes and resolutions are pre-determined. As far as I know, The Walking Dead represents the first attempt to adapt a long-running comic book by a single author to the screen. Much of what viewers don't like about the current state of the series is to found in the source material. I read the comic for a while and grew weary of its cyclical plot. It could be that the actors and writers of the show can do everything right and still fail to escape the gravity of the property they are porting from the page to the screen. So it goes.

I'm am regularly annoyed with The Walking Dead, and I've threatened to end the relationship before, but for the time being, I'm still Zombie Boy.



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