The Walking Dead, Season 8A: All Out Bore?

Season 8 of Walking Dead entertains but lacks depth.

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Season 8 of Walking Dead entertains but lacks depth.

Oskar Malkiewicz, Scribe Reporter

Ever since its first season, The Walking Dead has been one of the most popular shows on air. The show’s fifth season reached the apex of the show’s popularity, amassing over 17 million views during the season’s premiere. Now the show is in its eight season (featuring a story arc adapted from the comic book volumes aptly titled “All Out War”), and with a sharp decrease in ratings already evident, this particular season will undoubtedly shape the future of the show for years to come.

The first half-season kicks off with the 100th episode of the series, paradoxically titled “Mercy”; an out-of-order series of events is introduced in the episode, and this strange organization pattern persists until the mid-season finale and possibly beyond. Our fair triumvirate, Alexandria, the Kingdom, and the Hilltop, begin the incursion on the Sanctuary by trapping the vicious Negan and his goons with a massive herd of zombies.

This “trapped” conflict is largely left untouched for the next three episodes, in which our triumvirate splits up and attacks the numerous Savior outposts located near the Sanctuary. Several painfully mediocre battles later, our groups return bloodied, though victorious, to their homes as they wait for the siege of the Sanctuary to conclude and for Negan to surrender. This plan, however, is foiled by the traitorous Eugene, who frees the Saviors from the herd; thus, the mid-season finale culminates in Negan’s forces splitting up, almost ironically paralleling the actions of our heroes, and simultaneously invading the three communities as the heroes huddle underground, unsure of their fate as Negan and the Saviors approach.

The largest point of controversy was the conclusion of the mid-season finale, which ended [SPOILER ALERT]with the reveal that Carl Grimes had been bitten by a zombie, a death sentence for a character on The Walking Dead. This decision by showrunner Scott Gimple is a massive departure from the source material, where Carl is not only one of the most integral characters to the core storyline, but also a possible future protagonist as some readers predict. However, the move is certainly brave; with last season’s gore-reduction and slow pacing, a huge change like this is a welcome addition to the show.

Overall this half-season was a mixed bag; its littered with plot holes and out-of-place decisions, like reintroducing of a character from the first season in the second episode only to kill him off after 15 minutes of screen time in the next. Character progressions from previous seasons seems to be ignored, as the new “Rebel Without a Cause” Daryl seem to indicate, but new developments, such as the transformation of King Ezekiel, are plausible and well-done. The war aspect of the season is certainly powerful and immediate, but the odd organization of the season spoils any tension the episodes could’ve built. Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s “Negan” is perhaps the most redeeming aspect of the show currently, and his growing humanization is another interesting change this half-season.

The Walking Dead season 8A is a 6/10. The showrunners seek to distract the viewer with violence and extplosions, but fail to address the serious continuity issues present in the plot and character development. Going forward, what The Walking Dead team decides to do with the death of Carl and the effect that will have on his father will shape the future of the show until the conclusion of the story.

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