Robert Kirkman, creator of the comic book The Walking Dead , once said that he thought the series could run for 20 years (he allegedly has so many story ideas). Today we know that The Troupes have already had 10 seasons and two spin-offs, and there are also plans for films related to Rick, but do the title living dead still have something to offer the viewer, or have they already died out? This is what Agnieszka, Krzysiek and Mateusz decided to talk about.
In the first part of our conversation, we consider the reasons for the ever-decreasing viewership, our expectations for the series, and we also evaluate the attitudes of the protagonists towards cannibals, Negan and Whisperers.
Mateusz: Let’s start as in a support group. How does your adventure with the series look like? Have you read Kirkman comics, watched Fear The Walking Dead ? Or maybe you are just starting your adventure with World Beyond ?
I haven’t read Kirkman’s comics, but I have the Governor’s book behind me . I have been watching The Walking Dead since its premiere, but in recent seasons I do it irregularly and rather as a guilty pleasure , and also out of a sense of duty (it would be fine to finish). I’ve also seen two seasons of Fear… but the second series bored me terribly and treats it as a wash after The Walking Dead .
Aga : So far, I have only browsed the comics briefly. I did not like the graphic design, but I will definitely read them one day out of curiosity about the original plot. I reached for the TWD series very late, just about 2-3 years ago, when the eighth season was already available. With my boyfriend, we watched it practically every day until dinner (sometimes 2 episodes), so we quickly caught up. We caught up with the creators at the season 10 finale and, waiting for it, we reached for FTWD , which in my opinion turned out to be really good and in the first two seasons, sometimes much better than some debts in TWD. It was a pleasure to go back to the very beginning of the zombie apocalypse, where the phenomenon is something new and scary. Indeed, I had the impression that he was distinguished from TWD by the additional title “fear”. On the plus side, the plot develops much faster, small communities are formed, the first dangerous psychopaths appear (a guy checking how much time it takes for killed people to turn into zombies), and the Mexican mafia that trades food also fits here perfectly. Nick, one of the main characters, very quickly (probably already in the second season) discovers that he can hide from zombies by smearing their insides and follows their group like Whisperers in the 9th season of TWD .
Krzysiek: I haven’t read comic books, but they are on my long list of things to do. I stumbled upon the series by accident just before it peaked in mainstream popularity, somehow around season 3. I left the TV on late in the evening and didn’t pay much attention to it until she was unexpectedly caught by the zombies seen from the corner of her eye. I watched the episode to the end, then the next one, and it just went on by itself. I have not reached for any spin-offs yet, because I heard opinions that they were of much worse quality than the main series, which has left a lot to be desired for some time. Maybe I will feel like it after the closing of the original series, time will tell.
Mateusz: Some time ago there was a new episode of The Walking Dead . Many fans of the series have long given up The Dead, accusing the producers of incorrect plot decisions, inconsistencies in the departure of the main characters and the lack of new, well-written characters that would help give the production momentum again. Do you agree with the arguments of disheartened viewers, or do you think they just don’t see TWD’s evolution showing a post-apocalyptic world in a struggle for power, resources, and survival?
For me, the turning point was the appearance of Negan in the series and the subsequent execution of Abraham and Glenn. For the first time we had to see the heroes in a very different defensive situation than before. The next two seasons, apart from just a few episodes, were insanely boring and talkative. The series never enchanted with innovative ideas, but it defended itself with fantastic, multi-dimensional characters combined with an amazing chemistry in order to survive, which in the face of the fight with Negan almost completely evaporated. The only positive thing was the appearance of the aforementioned schwarccharakter. In my opinion, this is by far the best TV series entry of a new character into an ongoing production.
On the other hand, the last season and the meeting with Whisperers, Negan’s metamorphosis and the clash of the heroes with a ruthless group that almost actually resembles the living dead – the Whisperers are much better assessed. However, it all happened a bit too late for me, so I don’t believe that viewers will love the world of Robert Kirkman again.
Krzysiek: Then I have a slightly different approach. For me, the whole theme of Negan and the Saviors, not only his entrance, was a breath of fresh air and a lot of fun. It was a bit too long, but for the first time since the battles with the Governor in prison, the show caught my full attention. But I was disappointed by the Whisperers – after the first “wow effect” caused by their mystery and zombie control, I was just bored and irritated. The gang of ragged, malnourished cutlery does not seem as dangerous as Negan’s ruffians, and their leader completely lacks the charisma of previous antagonists, is full of weaknesses, contradictions and obvious flaws.
In the context of evolution, I appreciate the time shift and the change of reality to “pseudo-medieval”, but the problem is that the plot goes nowhere and the characters remaining on the battlefield do not engage at all, which is simply unacceptable in the series, which, as you mentioned, has always stood first all the complex heroes and the dynamics of social visions and interpersonal relationships.
Aga : “The subsequent execution of Abraham and Glenn”? It was, as far as I can remember, in the exact same scene that Negan appeared in (in the next episode, but the scene is still the same). A very strong, even shocking entrance and wake-up call for bored viewers! Negan’s speeches and counting-offs perfectly built the tension, which I felt continued through the following episodes, when Rick’s group lived in constant fear of the Saviors. There are also many funny situations with sometimes black humor, e.g. the song Easy Street accompanying Daryl in his cell, Negan’s care for Carl, quite funny and at the same time very irritating introduction of Jesus, or Negan’s dealings with Spencer (I don’t know what it looks like with the Polish translation, but the English “You got no guts” was a masterpiece).
This season (7), I was disappointed by Rick’s decision to give up his gun quickly without trying to fight or even flee. I believe that this greatly weakened the image of the main character, especially as the group leader. Perhaps the consequence of this was the lack of scruples of the creators about saying goodbye to this character.
However, I completely do not understand the very concept of Whisperers wearing masks. What was that even about? Zombies probably by definition, however, paid more attention to the smell and behavior than the appearance of the characters they took as “their”. And the image resembling the living dead could only pose an additional threat to the masked, e.g. the risk of being accidentally shot by people.
Mateusz: Aga, Negan’s first appearance was in the season six finale (episode 16) and we waited for several months for the cliffhanger to explain. The Internet was raging, various versions of the execution scene appeared on the Internet, and the actors themselves did not know who it fell on in Negan’s listings. We guessed that a cruel fate awaited someone from Rick’s team, but everyone asked: who? I watched the series in the classic, weekly mode, so I look at the antagonist’s entrance a bit differently.
I also disagree with your opinion on Rick’s departure because of the events of the Saviors’ reign. The decision was made primarily by Andrew Lincoln, who had already mentioned the hardships of filming the production and the separation from his family two seasons earlier.
On the other hand, did you notice that their “makeup” also gave them more tactical possibilities in combat? Humans began to depreciate the threat posed by the zombies, and the Whisperers gained the upper hand.
Aga: Yes, that’s true. Especially at the first meeting, they surprised the main characters.
Mateusz: Krzysiek, and you don’t feel a certain effect of fighting the next group? Maybe they just look very sluggish not only against the background of the Saviors, but also the Governor’s teams? Maybe they got too much airtime?
Krzysiek: Oh, on the one hand, the masks are to hide the living among the corpses also from the eyes of the survivors, as Matthew already mentioned, and on the other hand, I think, they also act as an initiation. Putting on a rotten zombie’s skin must be an extremely macabre experience, which is evidence of such a person’s willingness to sacrifice for the benefit of the group, and is also a symbolic departure from his former humanity, which seems to be the core of Alpha’s private philosophy, dispassionately adapting to the realities of the new reality .
As for the second nature of fights with organized groups – yes, it starts to get a bit boring, but at the same time it is probably inevitable. The corpses themselves, as many have already noted, as the plot progresses, they are less and less of a threat, and the series consistently sticks to the “classic” image of the undead as slow, rotting, undead cannibals, so it is in vain to look for, for example, the thread of a progressive mutation that will endow the monsters with some superpowers or something similar. So the antagonists must be people. In turn, the larger and better organized the group of main characters, the less threatening individual madmen or traitors can pose, so again, necessarily, there is one possible option – the rival group.
I don’t remember the Governor’s team very well anymore (after all, it was probably the fourth season?), But I think that even the Whisperers are pale in comparison to them. When I think about it now, they would probably do better as a side story. A mysterious group with unknown goals and beliefs, the very existence of which we are not entirely sure because of the deadly camouflage and life in isolation. Then maybe it would work, because unfortunately, as the main enemy, they simply do not work. The protagonists – seasoned veterans, well-armed and living in fortified settlements – allow themselves to be terrorized by a gang of knife cutters from the forest, really?
Mateusz: You reminded me of a group of cannibals whose plot was not fully used. I think the Sanctuary might have given the show some extra color, and it also left a lot of questions about how the menus for these characters changed. There was then a wildly interesting scene in which the cannibals partially eat one of the members of Rick’s group (previously infected). Would it change them? And when it came to the skirmish, the protagonists “explained them” very quickly.
Krzysiek, or maybe this is what perfectly shows that maybe they have “rusted” a bit over the years? They did not usually fight such groups, so it was difficult for them to predict the actions and decisions of Whisperers. Note that so far the group has been able to react to events or use preemptive strikes. Maybe it is also a matter of weaker command than before and the lack of an efficient leader?
Krzysiek: Yes, I remember about the Sanctuary all the time! Although I rather liked that this thread was closed fairly quickly – we spend a lot of time with the other antagonist groups on the series, dwelling on their beliefs and the essence of the conflict between them and the main gang. It was nice to skip it at least once and bring it all down to the question “they wanted to kill us and eat us, we kill them and run away without unnecessary questions.” Ultimately, not everything needs to be considered in depth.
Yes, the Whisperers were certainly confusing at first and terrified of their fraternization with dead bodies. Nevertheless, the clumsy nature of the protagonists in dealing with them is very puzzling. If this was to show their weakening and out of practice, the narrative does not signal it well. On the contrary, we see the training of somehow militarized guard troops, and when it comes down to it, they are doing worse than in the third or fourth season. So, in general, I could accept such an explanation, but the creators do not suggest it to us.