Review by J.T. Johnson
Before I start this review, I must say that I was not a big fan of “The Walking Dead’s” seventh season. The first half of the season was probably the worst half since we had to spend way too much time on Hershel Greene’s farm. The good guys were in a perpetual state of dread and Negan, while a good villain, was overplayed in the writing despite a decent performance by Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
The second half of the season was a noted improvement, but it still contained the hit-or-miss writing that had plagued pretty much all of last season. One thing that can definitely be said is that it was promising a return to form for the embattled leader, Rick Grimes. In my opinion, the show has always been its strongest when it is following Rick and part of the reason that season seven didn’t work was due to switching the focus largely away from Rick.
The episode sees Alexandria, the Hilltop, and the Kingdom as one united front against Negan and his Saviors. They are preparing for an assault on Negan’s main compound and while I’m not entirely sure what everyone was doing and what their parts were in the assault, the good guys finally came out somewhat on top. Beyond this, there were some weird scenes apparently featuring a Rick from a future point in time.
It could be that this is the future or it could be more likely that this is a fantasy inside Rick’s head. Either way, these scenes will probably play throughout the year and I have to say that I didn’t really care for them. I understand that the show had to refocus on Rick, but these scenes felt completely out of place with the overall tone and story of the show and I hope it’s wrapped up quickly.
Another moment of note in the episode is a scene where Michonne and Carl talk about looking after Alexandria. Michonne tells Carl that she will follow him and when he questions her statement, she simply replies, “It’s your show now.” I may be looking too far into this, but could this be a hint to the audience that the show will have a major shift with the show becoming about an adult Carl?
I only say that because there is apparently no real end to the show in site. The filmmakers behind the show have stated that the show could go on way into the future. That’s part of my frustration with the show, though. Shows such as “South Park” or “The Simpson” or the countless sitcoms out there in the world have the benefit of not having a connected throughline and can potentially go on for several seasons.
Shows like “Game of Thrones” and “Breaking Bad” have already revealed that their storytelling is strongest because their creators have an ending in mind. “The Walking Dead” seems hellbent on being around for several more years and this premiere gave me no light at the end of the tunnel about where the show might actually end and thus providing closure for this story I’ve been following since 2010.
The 100th episode of “The Walking Dead” is a noted improvement over pretty much all of last season, but that isn’t saying much. There are still plenty of issues that this show has to get over if it wants to return to being as strong as it was in seasons three through five. The season eight premiere breathes new life into the show, but here’s to hoping it’s not just a temporary upswing for a show that many people say has gone far beyond its prime.