As a viewer, I have had a complicated relationship with The Walking Dead. I love the comic book and still read it religiously every month when it comes out. The first 130 or so issues have been really solid, especially the older ones. Now, I am not one to say that “older is always better” for nostalgia sake, but in this case, it is true. The newest comics have suffered from some of the same issues that the TV show now has. It is boring. Season 6 was a huge build up to the new, big bad guy, Negan. Left with a cliffhanger, the season 6 finale was universally met with negativity and frustration. Also it was boring. Flash forward to The Walking Dead season 7, the 1st episode capped off said cliffhanger and met the expectations of what the finale should have been. Even so millions of viewers dropped off through the course of the season because they felt jaded from the finale. As the season progressed, we got poor writing, strange and unbelievable new characters and filler episodes in between a couple of solid episodes. Flash even more forward to Sunday night’s season 7 finale and I am left conflicted. I have continued to watch the show but at this point it’s more curiosity and habit versus what it used to be, which was excitement. And I would have to say, this finale, was kind of boring.
The beginning of the episode was kind of artistic, we have Sasha in a dark place, listening to what seemed to be an iPod. Visions of Abraham and her from before his death become an in and out thing, as they are setting Sasha up for her apparent death. This is the big happening of the episode, a major character death that was not incredibly unpredictable but happened for an unpredictable reason. Her death was interesting as it was a self-sacrifice, killing herself with the poison pill Eugene gave her, so she could “walker attack” Negan when he opened the casket she was in. A cool twist from the comic, I liked that it echoed the situation in the comic but was a surprise for the most part. The flashback scenes were nice and I thought that this was really well produced, which is a change for this season. Honestly, I hate whoever makes the music for this show. The music producer has a tough time deciding what the soundtrack should be and really creates identity crises for how I should be feeling. One minute we had a slow, guitar ballad, the next moment we had a soundtrack straight from Stranger Things The Sasha scenes were nice but, I just did not care at this point. Sasha is a main character, taking some leadership roles, having a romantic relationship with Abraham, however, I really do not have any emotional connection to her character. She has been written off as a strong character since season 5 for me, so I really haven’t much cared for her storyline. Her death was not a big blow for me, even if it was more cleverly written than some others.
The rest of the episode made me have mixed feelings. I watched it again, and even then, I was not sure if I liked or disliked the finale. We spent the whole second half of the season building Rick up, showing that he is back, gathering forces and getting ready to fight Negan. The show essentially took about 10-15 issues of the comic to make 16 episodes of the show. I get why, but it was too stretched out and at this point, all I wanted was the conflict to happen. Which it did, about 45 minutes into the episode. Some of the things I liked and thought made this finale good was the tension that was built with Dwight, even though you knew Daryl was not going to do anything. It made me feel uneasy because even though Dwight had been through some stuff with Negan and his wife was no longer around, Dwight at this point in the show, is pretty unredeemable. However, at the end of the episode, I thought it was clever to have Dwight leave his army man with the words “Didn’t Know” written on the back for Daryl to find. If anyone in the show should have trust issues with Dwight, it should be Daryl and I am glad to see that maybe they do still have a guy on the inside. Another thing I liked was the twist with the scavenger people. When the bomb did not go off and they turned their weapons on Rick and the gang, I was genuinely shocked and pleasantly surprised that they made this move. It was finally something I did not see coming. As much as I hate their characters and how they are written like apocalyptic cavemen, I thought this was a cool twist. It made Rick look like an idiot for trusting these strange humans and it once again had the gang in a situation they possibly could notget out of unscathed. Or so we thought. The last thing I really enjoyed about this episode, and this season is general, was Negan. His character far outweighs the others in that he is funny, charming, brutal, honest and Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays him really well. I love Negan in the comic and I have grown to really like his portrayal in the show. Even with that, his character had some issues in the episode as well with dialog and acting, but I will get to that.
Now the bad. This episode overall was not the best. I would not call it good. I would call it okay at best. The pacing felt weird, in that it had moments of tenderness and beauty and it also had weird, terrible acting in between. The stuff with Sasha and Abraham was good, but it was a little too much, too drawn out. Interactions with any of the Scavengers was brutally bad until the actual conflict. The scene where the leader of the Scavengers, Jadis, told Michonne that she liked Rick and would “lay with him” after the battle was weird. Weirder because Andrew Lincoln did not do a very good job at being awkward and the whole scene could have been cut. It was stupid.
The other issues I had with this episode had to deal with the back end of it all, when the most action was happening. I thought the tension was built well, I thought the conflict was set up. Negan was about to smash Carl’s head in, Rick and the gang were surrounded and the Saviors had all the cards in the deck. Negan had won. However, it was another one of those situations where I was like, “Okay. How do they get out of this one? I know they all live. How?” and the answer was a Tiger and a conveniently timed attack by the Hilltop and the Kingdom at the same time, somehow, without any coordination from any of the sides. I get it, the Kingdom has a tiger but like, how did a tiger know who to attack? Negan had Carl tee’d up and ready to kill and boom, a tiger. I know this is a show about zombies and that it is not the most believable, however, this is just trash writing and trying to be badass at the expense of believability. Even so, when the action begins at that point, it was poorly choreographed, it looked clunky and Negan’s dialog was outlandishly bad. He is running through Alexandria, shooting at people, saying stuff like “Oh man, they got a tiger?!” and “Oh my god, the widow is alive, guns ablazin!?” It is just too cartoonish, even for Negan. And through it all, barely anyone of importance died or even got badly hurt, besides Michonne, and the “good guys” made it out alive, ready for an all out war….next season.
The Walking Dead is growing thin on me. The payoff for watching this show no longer outweighs the bad dialog and poor writing. The Walking Dead Season 7 finale was not the worst thing I have seen on television but it was far from the best. At this point, it is really hard to watch this show with a positive lense, even with good characters like Negan. I liked this episode in some aspects but disliked it for a lot more. Will I watch season 8? Probably. Am I anxiously waiting for October? No way. Let’s hope that season 8 loses some of it’s bad writers and finds a way to be edgy and interesting again, because if you look at the ratings, I am not the only one who needs a break from the Walking Dead. So once again, The Walking Dead Season 7 came in like a lion and out like a lamb, as we will have to wait and see; will “All Out War” be worth the viewers time?