Is it time to walk away from ‘The Walking Dead’?

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes in
Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes in "The Walking Dead" Season 7 premiere. We feel the same way. (Gene Page/AMC)

Long-suffering Kathleen,

You know, for all the noise we made about quitting “The Walking Dead” I still didn’t entirely believe us. We get upset, we talk it out in one form or another, we find some silver lining in an errant TV program and we plunge forward in search of redemption.

I’m not sure that’s going to happen this time, as my tweets indicated Sunday night during the season 7 premiere of “The Walking Dead.”

Now, as we’ve said, TWD was on thin ice for its cheesy reliance on tacky cliffhangers in an attempt to, apparently, keep viewers on board. TWD has made ratings history at least once, and its fans are legion and dedicated. AMC and the TWD brains really didn’t need to poke us with a cliffhanger. We’re in; we were going to watch, but now gimmicky nonsense has cheapened the experience. I feel more used than a Don Draper true believer.

OK, so fine, AMD/TWD went with a cliffhanger. And what did we get for all our waiting? Literally MONTHS of waiting to see who met with a grisly, horrific end? No reveal as until after the first commercial; read: another cheap trick. (Cue Twitter aflame with frustration gifs.) Did the TV folks really think people would tune out even if we DID find out in the first segment who died? COME on. I was hesitant to even WATCH the episode because I was still pretty horrified by being placed in the point of view of someone who’s been mortally wounded at the end of Season 6. That’s pretty dark. Now I have to wait and watch more gore and listen to more of Negan’s awful monologuing before I see something I’m not terribly keen to see but would like resolved already?

And I haven’t even gotten to the unnecessary shots of splattered skull and brains. Or Negan and Rick’s pointless RV field trip with all that silly flashbacking. Or Rick’s idiotic decision to threaten and Daryl’s dumb attempt to attack a guy who made it very, very, very abundantly clear just how much he delights in psychological torment and physical violence.

Gah!

Talk to me Goose,

M. 

*** 

Dear Marisa,

Dear, dear, dear, dear me. And you. What are dedicated “Dead” fans supposed to do now?

We’ve been there from the beginning. We’ve grieved for those we lost and the way we lost them — eaten alive, shot by one of their own, left for dead, beheaded, killed in childbirth, burned and sacrificed in arena style fights with the undead. We’ve cheered when they succeeded — giving birth, finding love and friendship, making alliances, turning jaded survivors into one of the crew.

But the season premiere on Sunday has sealed the deal. The Dead is dead to me. Can’t. Go. On.

This episode showed us that the great and powerful Negan is one very sadistic psychopath. And they showed it to us over and over and over again. But we knew that at the end of the season finale six months ago. They had us at “Lucille.” Did we need it pounded into us, so to speak? A relentless hour (45 minutes?) featuring a bloody baseball bat, a bulging eyeball, circles of brain matter and the insidious sound of Negan’s voice.

I feel hugely manipulated; grossed out over the gratuitous violence; and left with the nagging question: why am I watching this show?

We should have stuck with our resolve after the season finale and our pledge not to watch. The only thing I got from this episode was an urge to kick myself for watching.

Sadly yours,

***

Eloquent K,

We are 100 percent agreed. I kinda felt like I watched a snuff film, and for that I might not forgive AMC/TWD. Yes, I could’ve left the room, or switched off the TV, or gone back to bingeing the election on Twitter, but ever the hopeful believer in poetic justice, I thought maybe somehow, some way the show could justify the horror we witnessed. But I can’t find any good reason why the creative team at TWD thought it appropriate to have a nearly dead Glenn-with-protruding-eyeball try and talk to Maggie. And Negan’s mocking response chilled me to the bone. Now HE is a bad hombre. But, like you said, I think that had been established. Firmly. No need to wallow in the gore, AMC. If I want to watch horror for horror’s sake I’ll watch the original “Evil Dead,” thanks.

Doubly infuriating is director/executive producer Greg Nicotero’s reaction to fans ready to change the channel. You can read it here. In short: he says we have a negative attitude.

!!!

It’s tricky because while it’s tempting to say we didn’t sign up for this, I suppose we sort of did. I mean, this is a show about gore-eating hordes of the undead, who are best killed by destroying their heads. OK fine. What we perhaps can’t abide is witnessing the depths to which human survivors will go to keep on keeping on. Would some of us really organize in such vile fashion as The Saviors? Would the absence of law and order grant some of us permission to manipulate and control our fellow survivors in horrific ways? (Don’t forget Terminus!) And what kind of world is it when the do-gooders of the post-apocalyptic world get their heads bashed in for doing nothing more than traveling to a doctor?

I guess the big question is: why, indeed, have we been dwelling in this place as an escape from the real world?

And do we want to know the answers?

Sidenote: I detest that Negan calls his bat Lucille. It’s an insult to the late, great BB King.

Power to you,

M.

***

Dear M,

I guess we did sign up for gruesomeness, but there was so much more to this series.

We watched as our intrepid survivors figured out how to survive. We watched them anguish over killing and rejoice over new life. We saw them grapple with good and evil and question their own motivations. In a sense, we watched them adapt and grow and always, always, always emerge with some sense of humanity.

In this latest episode with Negan, all humanity is lost. These people are all going to die. And AMC is going to show us the graphic deaths. Why put ourselves through it, watching the inevitable slow and painful deaths of our favorite characters? It appears the writers and producers have no ending to this nightmare. So I’m going to wake myself up and watch something else.

I feel so sad right now writing about this show, and not in a good way. I’m just going to go look at some flowers now.

Not hopeful yet,

***

Flower-gazing K,

The only thing I’d be mildly interested in seeing is how Rick’s crew takes revenge on Negan. Because they BETTER take revenge on Negan. I want Carl to go all super-ninja with that rocket launcher and get. it. done.

Which is a horrible thing to wish for. THAT’s what this show does to me, and you’re right: why endure if all we and our characters are left with are death wishes, vendettas, and bloody, bloody hell?

Because really, how can Maggie carry on with her full Self intact? If she does, it would be unusual for someone who experienced her level of trauma, and if she doesn’t we’d hate to see it unfold.

How can Rick stay focused when he nearly chopped off his newly one-eyed son’s arm? When his folly got them into all this trouble in the first place? Meanwhile Carl’s going to be looking over his should for the rest of his life.

And how about Daryl? His actions got Glenn killed (which Maggie will remember). He doesn’t deal well with guilt; he shuts down and attacks and isolates. When he was tossed into the van at the end of the episode, he was diminished, merely grunting in frustration. He’s in a quagmire of his own design, and if he lives, he’ll emerge a greater, more ruthless hunter with no use for human connection. Just what this world needs.

You know who he needs? Carol, the original Daryl whisperer. And Rick will need middle-path Morgan. Both Carol and Morgan, skilled killers, are tired of their bloody tasks but fully understand what’s at stake in the new world order. They feel the pull of their humanity and see their savagery in the full light of day — a bizarre new yin and yang. Somehow I think that will become useful back in Alexandria.

Or, as you said, everyone’s going to die.

- Ms. Sunshine

“The Walking Dead” airs on AMC on Sundays at 9 p.m.

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