I just thought I’d share a few thoughts on Season 6 from the perspective of a hibernating TV critic.
I certainly think it’s been better for me not to cover the show in detail. The disappointments and irritations fade far quicker when you don’t write them down and podcast about them. But they are there nonetheless.
Season Six continued several trends which have developed since Scott Gimple took charge.
- Villains get built up and then dismissed instantly.
- The cast keeps expanding but the established characters rarely die.
- People only talk about three things – their life BEFORE, morality and whether life is worth living.
In terms of villains we spent an entire season getting to Terminus only to blow it up in one episode. Then we endured endless hints about the Wolves before they were similarly dispatched. It’s as if the writers were so burnt by the Governor that they decided not to let any new bad guys have any screen time. Which brings us to the finale where Negan becomes everything the Governor wishes he was and more. He can track you in the dark, he can move whole forests to block your path. He can even talk for ages without any of his henchmen falling asleep or farting or anything.
I’m being facetious because the road-blocking sequence went from chilling to ridiculous so quickly. If Negan has the numbers, the discipline and the logistics to pull off something like that then it makes little sense that he didn’t know about Alexandria. The Saviors have varied in skill, numbers and tone on every occasion we’ve met them. Seeing our group so humbled should have been shocking. It should set up a completely different tone for next season. But the reality is that the Saviors will become weak or disunited when the plot needs them to. They will let their guard down and become Walker food in a silly, disappointing way.
Poor characterisation is not exactly Scott Gimple’s fault. It’s been a problem since the pilot ended. But the monotony just keeps extending outward.
I enjoyed most of Morgan’s showcase episode “Here’s Not Here” but the upshot was that he arrived with an impractical and irritating life philosophy. Then the most interesting character on the show decided to abandon the community because she understood too well what kind of people they needed to become.
For the rest nothing interesting ever sticks. Rick sees his girlfriend and her children eaten alive and his son’s eye blown out and he remains a rock. Abraham switches loves but no focus is given to the tension this should create in a small town.
In fact tension seems to have drained from the show entirely. The expanded cast allowed Nicholas, Jessie, Deanna and Denise to be killed off but no matter how many times Carol tries to die, she can’t. Darryl’s shoulder will heal and Rick will kill Negan I assume. They’re becoming like a post-apocalyptic A-Team.
The show increasingly feels like it’s made by committee. The AMC marketing department clearly love cliff-hangers and foolishly think that is the way to drive people to keep tuning in. Instead teasing people about whether Glenn or Daryl have been killed off only annoys viewers and further diminishes the dwindling dramatic potential.
Negan’s brutal bludgeoning should have been shocking and sad. But because of the need to keep the victim a secret the moment had no impact. Character deaths should be pivotal and emotionally engaging. This felt like someone’s idea of water cooler talk.
I suppose the one positive part of the show’s manufactured feel is that it now possesses the most diverse and progressive cast on television. I can’t think of another show which has several African-American, one Asian-American and one Latino lead character along with a gay and lesbian couple. Throw in middle-aged Carol as an ass kicker and you have to smile. I guess in a post-apocalyptic world race, class and gender shouldn’t really matter.
I can’t stop watching the show. I have some kind of completers sickness that keeps dragging me back. And occasionally little moments sneak through to please me. Poor Nicholas’ shell shocked face before he killed himself. Eastman telling his story. The success of the silent attack on the Saviors camp and Carol fooling her captors. But I’m not optimistic about the future.
I aim to stay in touch with the site for the time being. I will write a similar summary of Better Call Saul Season 2 and then post weekly about Game of Thrones (though briefly). Roberto will be continuing the podcast with a new co-host and I hope to be sending my feedback to them. I hope you’re all well and do enjoy your TV.