One of the huge problems TWD has as a show based on a comic is that the structure of a television season dictates too much of the dramatic flow of the story.  The TWD comic is just ongoing.  As a reader of comics, we’ve been trained to expect big events in issues with round numbers (#100, #150, etc.) or every sixth issue (for incorporation into a six-issue paperback), but that isn’t always the case and as a reader it seems like lulls in the danger can last unpredictable amounts of time.  With TWD the TV show, we basically know that we have 5 more episodes this season and that Negan will appear sometime before the season finale.

That causes me to view any calm before the storm pretty cynically.  It’s almost like they’re just tossing in a few boring episodes, dropping the name Negan a few times and hoping that builds excitement.  Honestly, I’d rather just get to the final destination rather than see Maggie and Gregory try to negotiate an arms-for-food treaty.  Maybe the feeling is different for non-comic readers.  Your mileage may vary.

And this show just has way, way too many characters.  It simply cannot service all of their stories appropriately in ~45 minutes to make us care about anyone but the core characters.  In addition to the sheer number of characters being too large, the show also flits around too much with the supporting characters to build any sense of narrative momentum.  For example, last week we had that nonsense with Spencer prowling the forest to kill his zombie mother.  Nobody cares about Spencer, but I could at least understand if they wanted to give him a steady 5-episode run so it seemed like we kinda cared if/when Negan kills him in the season finale.  But, this week features no Spencer.  So what was the point of wasting our time with him last week?  Take another character: Aaron.  Where’s he been the last few weeks?  Rosita got a little time this week, but she hasn’t been featured in a long time.  How about Gabriel?  Eugene?  Morgan?  Carol?  The list could go on and on.  It’s simply too many characters and because our attention is diluted, we really don’t care about anyone beyond the core cast.

So, this episode was just a dud.  They found Hilltop.  Great.  Not exactly surprising that there are other walled compounds around.  They’re trading for food.  Great.  That’s very exciting.  Xander Berkley was great as Gregory, but – as mentioned above – the show doesn’t need another character it doesn’t have time to service.  And at the end, the guys come back with a message from Negan, but I think we’d rather just see Negan at this point.

Two asides:

  • How can a shw with the make-up talent of TWD not do a better wig for Jesus?  Seriously, it looks like a novelty beanie with hair hanging out of it.
  • Does Xander Berkley have a google alert for casting calls with keywords like “officious” and “dickhead”?  I actually admire the work ethic of the guy for being willing to play the jackass administrator so many times.

-Dean Stell

Grade

D+

Conclusion

Very lukewarm. Not much to recommend it. TWD simply has too many characters to service and the story sags hugely whenever there isn't action. Everything feels predictable right now.