The Walking Dead finally finished, after biting off more than it could chew

Norman Reedus and Melissa McBride in the series finale of 'The Walking Dead.' (Source: Jace Downs / AMC via CNN)

L.A, 2022-11-21 08:47:05. The Walking Dead finally finished, after biting off more than it could chew

Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers about The Walking Dead series finale, RIP, which premiered November 20.

Forgive AMC, at least a little, for almost drunkenly celebrating “The Walking Dead” in its heyday by feeding the audience as much zombie drama-related content as possible. However, with the series finally coming to an end, after 11 long seasons, it seems clear that the network and the producers are greedy for more than they can chew.

The final season continued an overarching plot, as the powerful group of core characters sought to escape the forces of society known as the Commonwealth. At the same time, they seem to be working with their hands tied behind their backs, given the already announced pop-up ideas that need to be inculcated, nurtured, and promoted.

Watching the finale, it was pretty clear that the “end” of the main show isn’t really meant to be the end of anything; Instead, the 90-minute finale was punctuated by promotions for the upcoming spin-off series – “Dead City”, “Rick & Michonne” and “Daryl Dixon” – removing more of the suspense away from what happened.

What did that leave in terms of the episode, titled “Rest in Peace”? A cathartic outcome for Pamela Milton (Laila Robbins), the amoral leader of the Commonwealth, with Mercer’s (Michael James Shaw) assistance in her impeachment. Some sobering losses, offering a reminder that in this dystopian world there is seldom any gain without sacrifice. And a one year jump into the future, Hope offers a greater normal return, with Ezekiel (Khary Payton) and Mercer taking over.

It was the smaller moments that really stood out. Chaotic sequence in the hospital. Rosita (Christian Serratos) briefly transforms into a superhero. A sweet exchange between Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan), with a heartfelt apology for what he took from her. Daryl (Norman Reedus) says goodbye to Carol (Melissa McBride) before walking away on his own assignment to star in another show.

In its early seasons, The Walking Dead excelled in part because of its unpredictability, as the montage of dead characters reminded the audience. Impressively, the series has continued to reload with new players as well as new threats.

However, the departure of Rick Grimes, played by Andrew Lincoln, in 2018 turns out in hindsight to be a pivotal moment, not only striking a creative blow for the show, but signaling the sleight of hand involved in trying to exalt it as a common good.

You see, Rick didn’t die, he just left, with the promise that he’d return in a series of movies. Those plans later turned into a limited series, but the feeling that “The Walking Dead” was no longer a priority in AMC’s “Dead” universe has been well established.

AMC has also become massively infatuated with brand expansion, introducing “Fear the Walking Dead,” followed by “The Walking Dead: World Beyond” — essentially a teen-focused version of the show — and most recently the anthology series “Tales of the Walking Dead.”

During that period, the consumption patterns of the public changed, even if the zombie’s appetite did not. As people move away from watching linear television and watch more via streaming services, the societal aspects of watching the show each week and finding out who lives or dies have diminished, a trend fueled by AMC’s decision to make episodes available early to subscribers streaming on AMC+.

After announcing plans to end the main show more than two years ago with three eight-episode arcs, these moves perhaps make sense as business decisions, but they’re hard to justify as creative choices.

Executive producer Angela Kang told Entertainment Weekly that the series, like the comic, could not end in a definitive way, calling it “a zombie story that never ends”. On “Talking Dead,” the talk show dedicated to the series, Kang said, “We’ve tried to give everyone a moment in the sun.”

But even with those limits, it’s hard to get excited about a “finale” with so little closure. Television is always hungry for another hit, and at its heyday The Walking Dead was a supernova. But AMC has turned the franchise into a different kind of zombie, marching forward even when life was largely depleted.

CNN Wire
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