Binge Breaks: The Walking Dead, Part Two


Photo credit/ Jennifer Flynn

After several seasons under showrunner Scott Gimple, AMC’s “The Walking Dead” found a new showrunner tasked to bring interest back to the show as well as say farewell to series protagonist/fan favorite Rick Grimes. Angela Kang joined the series in its second season as a story editor and has directed several episodes since. In her time as showrunner, she had managed to bring the series back to life for a satisfying conclusion that looks to the future. To say she had a rough hand would be a vast understatement. Carl Grimes is dead, Lincoln is set to leave the show to spend time with his family, public opinion of the show has dipped, and the series’ current timeline was a mess. Kang used the first half of her season to clean up the mess from seasons seven and eight, as well as giving a proper farewell to Rick Grimes, sending him away to star in a trilogy of films that have since been replaced with a limited series on AMC’s streaming service, AMC+, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. With that done in a riveting four episodes, now it was time to look to the future.

With a six-year time jump, the series jumps to present day from 2013-ish to then modern-day 2019, and the remaining Grimes family member, Judith, is now an actual character as opposed to a baby the group needed to care for. This decision brought a breath of fresh air to the series, moving away from not just Negan and the “All-Out War“ storyline, but from almost everything that came before. For some fans, this might be upsetting, since what came before wasn’t all that bad. But after Gimple’s streak of poor decision making, the timeskip and reintroduction to the world of “The Walking Dead” was needed.

With Kang at the helm, the next three seasons of the series proved to be exciting and unique, with the series deviating from the comics while still keeping the original story intact. The living threats are scary and unpredictable, with the Whisperers– a group wearing the skins of the undead to blend in and surprise-attack their opponents and amassing a massive horde of Walkers. Led by Samantha Morton’s Alpha and Ryan Hurst’s fearsome Beta, both actors prove a dangerous threat to our survivors with many kills to boot.

The final arc in the series focuses on the Commonwealth, a massive community about 50,000 strong. Led by the corrupt and entitled Pamela Milton, our survivors find themselves at her mercy as they try to stay together and fight for a new beginning. But the dead are once again a threat with Walker variants beginning to show themselves. Opening doors, climbing walls, picking up weapons such as knives and rocks, and having the intelligence to remove a soldier’s helmet before eating them and shoving survivors to the ground with impressive strength, Walkers are finally dangerous once again. While this reveal of variant Walkers feels too late, I feel that it’s better late than never to make Walkers the true threat. These Walkers are a callback to the first season, when they would do all these things under Darabount’s run. All we can hope for is that these Walkers appear in the series of spin-offs.

But the enemies both living and dead aren’t the only things Kang brought a new light to. Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Negan Smith is now a part of the group, despite the atrocities he committed to them in earlier seasons. Through these seasons, we see his character do a complete 180 in character development. He goes from the one brutally executing people in a lineup to being brought to his knees in one and about to watch a loved one die– right where our people were with him. His origin episode “Here’s Negan” was easily the show’s best episode in a long time and his progression is incredible. With her time as showrunner, Kang managed to end the show with a bang with only table scraps at her disposal. I have no question that if she were showrunner years ago, the show would’ve ended almost as popular as it was back in 2015, if not moreso.

Kang’s TWD: 9/10

With the main series over, AMC has announced several spin-offs, including a series with Laurie Cohan’s Maggie Greene– wife of one of the men Negan killed– and Negan in a post-apocalyptic New York City, a currently unnamed series with Daryl Dixon in Paris, and a limited series reuniting Rick Grimes and Danai Guira’s Michonne– Rick’s romantic partner before he left the show. Presumably, more are still to come, and at the moment, I’m looking forward to seeing more original content from this universe, unshackled from the comic source material and finally able to truly do it’s own thing with these iconic characters.

AMC’s “The Walking Dead” premiered on Halloween night in 2010, and since then, the show went on to become a global phenomenon much like the comic books that were running at the same time. While it lost its way for a while as well as much of the viewership, the series has come to a satisfying conclusion, with more in store for fans of the series. From scared and desperate people trying to survive a desolate world and to figure out the best way forward, to leaders of several communities and pop culture icons, “The Walking Dead” proves that humanity at its core is about family, mercy, and compassion.

Contact the writer: [email protected]