I love the Walking Dead. It’s not my favorite show on right now, but it’s up there. It has a good representation of what people do and act like during a crisis, generally has good writing, and lots and lots of zombie massacres.
I have one issue, and it is the stupid fucking decisions these people make to create drama when things are tense enough. It tends to hit points where it seems like we need to ratchet up the conflict, someone counts how many zombie waves they’ve had so far, and just decides for someone to forget that they’re in a dangerous situation and lost their damn mind. Last night’s premier largely did away with this (although clustering down a dark, winding tunnel into a crowd of zombies was pretty dumb). No one lost their mind halfway through and everyone gave up on the Rick hate that was so prevalent last season. Carl didn’t get into trouble and Lori didn’t flip a car over. Yay!
But last season, It was a travesty. It was interesting because it had some of the best episodes of the season, yet also had the worst. And a lot of times it was because we had character going around doing ridiculous things so we could squeeze another episode out of the season. And that’s something any writer has to avoid. It’s alright to have a character panic, or even to be weak. They can break down at a critical moment, snap and lose their temper. They can be forgetful, lose their nerve, or kill someone in anger. But when this is all they do, that’s all their going to be to the reader.
Carl for example, spent the entire last season getting into trouble. He was indirectly responsible for at least one character’s death, and was a source of tension for thirteen episodes. He’s a kid, so I don’t expect him to be a rocket scientist with the nerves of steel of a NAVY Seal, but I mean, come on! If your character makes nothing but bad decisions, that’s no longer a panic moment, that’s their personality. Lori is another one. She went form playing Wormtongue, whispering in Rick’s ear that he needed to kill Shane, to shunning him when he defended himself from his own murder. Lastly, you had the entire cast giving their leader the evil eye because of his “bad leadership” which I still don’t get. Zombie apocalypse, and most of you are still alive!
Part of the issue was consistency. Darryl is a great character, and often times in conflict with the rest of the group. He is most concerned with himself and has a very bleak outlook on things. He has no compunction with killing a zombie just because it used to be a person and is usually the quickest to come to the dark side of those hard decisions. And except for a few occasions where something broke through that hard exterior, he is consistent. He has grown, but his personality is maintained. I have no idea what Lori’s personality is other than she’s going to argue with Rick whether he’s making sense or not.
One of two things. Either this was lazy writing to create drama, or these characters are insane. You have to think about these types of things when building conflict. They wanted to create group conflict, but it just came off as dumb. Fortunately, for every time they did that they usually got something right. There is a lot of conflict in the show that does come off natural, a result of their world being torn away from them.
It was like the show was being pulled in two different directions.
Any story needs to keep this in check because conflict isn’t always prevalent and you need to shake things up.