[Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS ahead for The Walking Dead Season 6 up to the midseason finale.]
After five highly-rated seasons, The Walking Dead television series doesn't appear to be dying off anytime soon. Despite the sharp drop in viewership for its season 6 premiere, AMC has announced the zombie-filled horror drama will return for a seventh 16-episode season. This is good news for the long-time fans of the series, as they will be able to continuing watching their favorite characters survive (and die).
While the show is arguably one of the best horror-dramas on TV right now, it's not without its shortcomings - which we will address below. However, unlike last year when we discussed 5 Things Wrong with Season 5 of The Walking Dead, we aren't going to be complete downers, as this season has some definite high points to note.
Let's discuss Everything Good, Bad and Annoying about Season 6 of The Walking Dead...
The Good - Increased Action
With the exception of a few scattered scenes, the action in the show, as of late, had been waning. Episode 1 of season 6 changed that in a big way, upping the stakes for every one of the survivors, not just in Alexandria, but for that entire region in Virginia. In a series of flashbacks, we learn that while on a mission to bury Pete (who killed Deanna's husband, Reg, at the end of season 5), Morgan and Rick discover a rock quarry filled with thousands of walkers, soon realizing the semi-truck blockade at the entrance isn't going to hold much longer. This situation immediately built tension and for the first time in a while, the audience once again felt the sense of dread the survivors must feel on a daily basis. This type of tension was something the show was sorely missing in recent seasons.
Episode 1, "First Time Again", and episode 2, "JSS", are two of the best episodes writers Scott Gimple, Matt Negrete and Seth Hoffman have penned to date. Even the flashback scenes (which have notoriously been used in the past as 'time fillers') are used to further increase the tension and add action to the show. Unfortunately, this new-found sense of action wouldn't last long as the next five episodes would fall back into the same tired, exposition-filled routine (something we'll address in a moment.)
The Bad - Split Narratives
This habit of splitting up the group, and thereby splitting the narratives, has been a big concern of some fans (us included) for the last few seasons. In the beginning, the show only had a couple of stories happening at once, but as the group grew larger the story lines began breaking off into so many paths that it was near impossible to follow them all - and this problem has essentially taken over season 6 of The Walking Dead. Audiences currently have to keep up with the following story lines in the first seven episodes:
- Alexandria attacked by Wolves with Carol, Carl, Maggie, Eugene, and Tara to help defend
- Rick on a mission to lead walkers away from the town - he's now back with Michonne
- Daryl, having split from Sasha and Abraham, was on his own to survive an encounter with a new hostile group of faceless strangers
- Sasha and Abraham were holed up in an office building waiting to hear back from Daryl
- Glenn, having survived a zombie horde (more on that nonsense later), is now on his way back to Alexandria with Enid
- Morgan, after having an entire episode devoted to his backstory, has captured one of the Wolves alive and is proceeding to reason with him
That's a whole lot to keep up with in just seven episodes and most of these characters' development suffered because of it. At the end of episode 7, "Heads Up", it looked like a reunion was in store for the group as Glenn, Daryl, Sasha, Abraham were on their way back to the town. However, thanks to a conveniently timed watchtower collapse that forced everyone to seek shelter in separate houses, the multiple narratives don't appear to be stopping anytime soon. For a group whose mantra seems to be "Stick together no matter what," the writers sure do split them up a lot.
The Annoying - Glenn Fake-Out Death
As far-fetched as it sounds, audiences bought into the notion that there exists a virus which spreads through human bites and turns every single person on Earth into an zombie when they die. We accept that Father Gabriel and the others never (if rarely) need to change their outfits. We also accept that, while the world is filled with rotten, disease-ridden bodies, the group has only ever been sick once (during season 3). However, fans drew the line at the asinine way the show attempted to convince them fan-favorite character Glenn had perished.
Just as audiences (and Glenn) were warming up to Nicholas - who had been showing signs of becoming a productive member of the group - the writers gave him a weak reason for losing his mind. So as he and Glenn stood on a dumpster surrounded by walkers, Nicholas shoots himself in the head, thereby knocking Glenn on the ground and into the clutches of the bloodthirsty horde. Episode 3, "Thank You", ends with Glenn screaming in horror as zombies tear apart his insides - or did they? This season has been devoid of any real emotional content, so the producers attempted to drum some up by selling audiences on the apparent death of Glenn, going as far as removing Steven Yeun's name from the credits - and no one bought it for a second.
Glenn is one of the original cast members of the show. They can't just kill him off in a way that leaves everyone in the group wondering what happened to him. When Glenn is eventually killed off (and it will happen) it needs to be public and it needs to be violent and emotionally draining. The show took one of its best characters, one that fans have watched develop for six years, and literally threw him under a dumpster as a red herring. That's ridiculous in every sense of the word.