The Walking Dead is coming and I am very excited. It’s a great show, that has given me some great moments, and I know I will enjoy it. But I also am winding down on Breaking Bad and this really highlights an issue I have with the show.
Drama for drama’s sake, or, stupidity to create drama.
Even though I want to think that the upcoming season will be perfect, I know it won’t be. I know this because the Walking Dead has set a sort of trend over the past few years. The first season was nigh perfect, but the second was bogged down with bullshit. The first half was a slog of sitting around on the farm while people bickered back and forth, with Lori being the Devil of the Season for the viewers to hate. That said, it had two or three of the best episodes of the series in that part of the season as well (When Shane kills Otis and Daryll’s episode). Then in the second half, it just lifts off, with some incredibly epic moments. It still has some issues, all with the same characters, but overall was very enjoyable.
The third season was the opposite, starting great and going through the slog in the second half with Andrea being the Devil of the Season. It took all the buildup and potential created in the first half, and squandered it in the second, with one of the single most disappointing season finales I have ever seen in television. But it also had the episode with Morgan, probably the best episode of the entire series.
This type of dichotomy is ridiculous. The Walking Dead flows in these great, big peaks and valleys, with its most difficult challenge being consistency. From what I understand, that comes from the writer’s and the fact that multiple people are holding the reins.
Here’s the thing, I don’t want someone to be stupid, to abandon their character, and go off like a half-cocked dumbass, to provide tension for this show.
It is a zombie apocalypse, all the tension you need is dragging its rotten, shambling ass around the whole scene!
It seems like the show is hell bent on providing a splinter, someone who will get under everyone’s skin. That’s fine, if lazy, but here’s the thing is, it’s not supposed to get under the viewer’s skin. I hated the Governor, and Meryl (until he went out like an ever loving badass), but I appreciated their presence on the show. They added to the conflict, to the tension of the story.
What the writers did with Lori and Andrea was inexcusable, and it seems like to me that the anger you see on the internet comes more from a sense of backlash than it does from a genuine hatred of that character. People could sense that their actions (telling Rick to kill Shane, then getting pissed when he does, hitting the only zombie on the road and having a near fatal car accident trying to chase your husband who left like five minutes prior, siding with a guy who is an obvious, blatant sociopath for multiple episodes, etc.) were out of character and unnatural.
Drama for the sake of drama. It doesn’t work. Honestly, it almost felt like a reality TV show where you know the producers are just trying to stir things up. It was fake.
I know what you’re thinking. It’s all fake! Yes, but it needs to feel real. This is the key to fiction, suspension of disbelief. You can’t have characters make decisions solely to move the plot in a certain direction, especially if those decisions are out of character. It won’t work. People will feel something off, even if they can’t identify it. This applies to a lot more than just television too, any form of fiction must hold to this standard.
Now, there’s a big difference between stupidity for drama and just plain stupidity. When Rick lost his shit after Lori died and made one bad decision after another because he was in a near catatonic state, hell, that made sense. Glen and Maggie’s tension after The Incident with the Governor, that made sense. Darryl’s conflict over his loyalty to this new family and his brother, that made sense.
Andrea just wanting to save everybody when she has, literally, no interaction with any of the townspeople, that makes less sense. Her ignoring the fact that her boyfriend molested Maggie, tried to kill her entire group, had his daughter’s reanimated corpse in a closet, and a vast collection of zombie heads in fish tanks…makes no sense.
So I don’t know what to expect in October. Am I going to get the first half of season 2 or the first half of season 3? Am I going to get something altogether different?
Or am I just going to get drama?