Here we go. So, it's probably not the best time to be a WD fan, as the show has had some major problems we're about to talk about, the comic is slowly declining, and this very wiki seems to now have autisim. At least the TT games are letting us chose how we play, oh, wait. Anyway, i'm going to review season seven as a fan look at how the show can be improved for next season, or what it could have done differently this time. Yes, I still like the show, and it's my favourite WD related media, regardless of this season. So, review.
After season five was the highest point for the show, six was a slight dip, but if not a solid season that fell for the show's usual traps (slow pace, fakeouts). It ended on one of the most controversial TV moments ever with the Negan cliffhanger, that was badly recieved, but gave AMC exactly what they wanted with Hype at an all time high. Then season seven hit, and things dropped from there. I belive that the main problem with the season is obviously the pace, but more sepecifically episodes 2-6 (The Well, The Cell, Service, Go Getters, Swear) Now, I'm going to dive into the nitty gritty of why this season is to a lower standard than the others.
Character Focus -
The comics have had a big problem with one of it's core themes past issue 100, and that's the group dynamic and the theme of family. The Walking Dead always strives when the group is close knit and together, but when Glenn and Abraham died, much of this was lost, and is now effecting the dynamics in the post time-skip comics. The same problem carry over to the show and are made so much worse when the focus is placed on the wrong characters entirely.Given their time and prior focus, the most screentime this season should have belonged to Rick, Daryl, Carol, Michonne and Maggie. Carl doesn't necicarily need the most screentime, but is another key focus. However, season seven freqently leaves these characters with nothing to do, especially Michonne, Carol and Maggie. Maggie underwent one of the biggest character changes ever, but the show doesn't really play it off as anything special, and cannot find anything interesting to do at the Hilltop, despite having two of the most interesting and powerful characters there (more on that later). So with focus away from these characters, and Daryl acting the same as he always has for the last four seasons, we are left with mopey Rick until he becomes weirdly optimistic and smiley (to counterbalance the 7A depression), alongside the B characters who are dramatically boosted in screentime because there's no-one left to deal with. This leads to:
- Rosita, who previously has had little development, has almost the entire season in the spotlight. Her character is annoying and self-descructive, and her and Sasha's moment talking about her past is great development but all too late for us to care about her irrational behaviour.
- Eugene was following a great path of satisfying character development, when the showrunners obviously realised his growing confidence would allow the events of the series to progress all-too-quickly, so he was back to his cowardly ways and only produced one bullet for Rosita to kill Negan with. One, bullet. What? Even if Eugene's turn with the saviours is a rouse and he ends up killing Negan, it's still not gonna work with viewers as Eugene keeps alienating himself and acting like someone thats not human.
- Tara. With Swear being an episode that people like to hate, I wanna say I didn't hate it that much as everypne else, but she probably wasn't the best person to hold an entire episode. Her character needs a closer relationship with a still-living character to be an A-list character, but spending most of her time alone didn't help.
- Spencer. The show obviously doens't have the balls to have someone question Rick's leadership without telling the viewer how much of a dick they are. Just because Spencer opposes Rick, does not need we need to be told how much we need to hate him. Spencer from the comics is part of the group, but the readers can make their own judgement on him without having to be told which way to think.
- Morgan. Lennie James is easily the best actor in the show, and the kingdom is actually a pretty well realised and rounded community, it's just a shame Morgan had little-to-nothing interesting to do until he snaps and goes all clear on everyone.
- Gabriel is the exception to the bunch, who appeared far too little, as he is a strong character that could easily be a main-player in the series if given the oppertunity.
The big split, again -
Another huge problem to the character development and dynamics, is that the characters were split up. This would have been cool to see (as the characters are all at their lowest and new relationships are formed) apart from the show has done this before, in seasons 4, 5 and 6. I understand that 12 characters cannot all share screentime and get devloped well, but the splitting of character has happened too much, that I honeslty cannot remember the last time say, Carol and Rick spoke to each other. They didn't even say hi in the finale even though AMC would likely abuse that situation for emotions. alexandria felt empty and suddenly all the B-list characters had to step up. I'm hoping season eight will be a united front in terms of characters, but I imagine they will split the cast again during S8.
Sasha? -Sasha Williams is the biggest missed oppertunity in the show. I said it. By season five, Sasha had become a force of nature, and her story is a great way to make a reckless character work (Rosita by comparison looks like an upset child). Her season six story was okay, and her relationship was a little out of left-field but done pretty well. But the show kinda forgot how powerful a sniper she is. Still, when Season 7 came along and she lost abraham, she looked to change again and herr story developed. She reacted better to the death as she is a stronger person, but the show clearly had no interest in her character or her abilties as a sniper. This looked to turn around when Rosita gave her the new sniper, but things got even worse when she couldn't take the shot at Negan (seriously?) and then WE DON'T EVEN SEE HER ATTACK ON THE SANCTUARY. This is one of the most badass characters, and seeing her kill with that sniper never gets old. But the show seems to think it is, as she never gets to show it off, as if Gimple wants to save all the badassery for Daryl. Not showing her attack on the sanctuary is a a massive mistake.
So the show clearly does not care about Sasha, but when she's barely appeared the whole season, it's time for her to die in the finale. With not much care for her at all, the finale works it's hardest to remind the viewer this is a character we like and will sad for when they die by the end of the episode. They brought back Abraham, used flashbacks, all to manipulate our emotions and make up for no focus this season. The show would have been better not showing her in the finale at all, so we wonder wether Negan is bluffing, and are genuinly suprised when she emerges as a walker. As if they didn't belive the viewer could remember the pills from THE PREVIOUS EPSIODE, they showed it all happening so we know why she died. As if the death wasn't spoiled enough, she gets focus just before she dies, like every death in the walking dead ever.
JDM as Negan -
I belive Jeffery Dean Morgan was a mis-cast Negan. Maybe no-one could have played Negan to our high, high expectations, but I belive the traits JDM has given Negan make for a one-dimentional character, and the writing does not help at all.Your average Negan appearance goes as follows:
- Speaking quiet then loud then quiet again
- pause for effect
- lucille is [blank]
- Crude joke
- Smile 24/7, with optional weird laugh.
- Lean back
This is not Negan. I can't quite describe why, but Negan is a psycopath in the best way possible. He knows people, and can adapt and play up to people. He's been terrifying, hilarious, caring and logical. He genuinely belives he is the saviour, and is not a bad guy. everything has a reason, and in-between his calculated choices is his humour. What's imporant to note is Negan is not always smiling, even when he makes jokes. Negan is not an entertainer, but his humour more often comes from his lack of a filter. He's just saying these things, he's not trying to make the audience laugh in any way. He also needs to bring a strong psyicality to the role, and the contstant leaning back does not help sell his size and stature. But that's not it, it's also the writing of Negan, as continued by the next point.
The saviours are stupid -
So the perfomance of Negan is also hindered by stupid writing. In the comics, Carl attacks the base and Negan takes a liking to him, and Spencer tries to overthrow Rick so Negan kills him to keep things in order. In the show, Negan takes Daryl, Carl, Eugene and Sasha into the sanctuary, showing them parts of saviour culture and the location of their base. This is after all four of them attempt to kill Negan (Eugene inderectly) but he seems to have no regard for his own safetly, as if Negan knows he's going to be around a few seasons. the show should have perhaps cut down on the amount of people Negan allows more chances for, such as Rick and Rosita as well, one of whom tries to murder him in daylight, and no saviours do anything as if they know she only has one bullet. We understand he wants people alive and working for him, but taking people to the sanctuary and killing minor characters is not the way to do it. With this many members, wouldn't Negan post a few at the other communties? That would literrally stop the others rebelling against him.
The Hilltop -
The show obviously has a problem with farm related places, as The Hilltop has become the most boring community, even compared to the scavengers and the oceanside. Jesus still shows promise but is not given much to do (blame the existance of Daryl for that one) Maggie is mistreated on her own big moment, and Sasha is forgotten about until her death, despite the fact that there's three very skilled and interesting characters to work with. With the slow pace and the war not being allowed to start until the end of the season, the hilltop doesn't have much to do, so often brings in the saviours routine pickups as a souce of conflict, even if nothing happens. The more time with nothing to do at the hilltop, the more time is also spent with Gregory, everyone's favourite. Harlan Carson is forgotten about, Kal and Eduardo barely appear, and badass blakcsmith Earl Sutton doesn't even seem to exist. It's a massive shame, but it did mean the Kingdom is well developed and has likeable characters, something it is missing in the post-Eziekiel comics. It will be a cool place to blow up in the Season 8 finale I guess?
We promised action, just not good action -
So with the promise of war dragged out the entire season, we are finally given the begining of All Out War in the finale, and boy is it.... Average? Yeah, the action wasn't too good, and the Scavengers seem to have their guns trained on everyone, and still lose. No casualties on the side of good, and the badly shot firefights don't exactly give good impressions for what the whole of next season is going to be, but I'm hoping things will get better as far as action goes.