The Walking Dead is building to something — but it’s not clear what

For a short time, it appeared like The Walking Dead was keen to use its recognition as a platform to create a whole universe of zombified tv. First, there was the spinoff/prequel Worry the Walking Dead, adopted by The Walking Dead: World Past after which the anthology sequence Tales of the Walking Dead. Each intermingled with the unique present, however for probably the most half, they have been intent on telling their very own tales. Quick-forward to 2024, and the previous two sequence have ended, whereas Tales obtained an order for one more season final yr with no additional information.

This leaves us with the query: What do we would like out of The Walking Dead now? As a result of it looks like no matter plans AMC had for a sprawling empire have been whittled again down to specializing in what the central characters of the principle present have been up to. Dead Metropolis seems to be at Negan and Maggie, Daryl Dixon is involved with the titular badass, and The Ones Who Dwell reunites Rick and Michonne, the franchise’s energy couple who beforehand departed The Walking Dead, leaving it to finish in a rudderless, underwhelming style. Is the way forward for The Walking DeadThe Walking Dead divided into three exhibits?

If it’s a ploy to regain a dwindling viewers, it is smart. At its peak, The Walking Dead was a rankings behemoth. Its friends within the “prestige TV” increase of the 2010s may need eaten its lunch by way of sustained vital appraisal, however at its peak, the fifth-season premiere scored 17.29 million viewers. To place that in perspective, the finale of Breaking Bad had 10.28 million.

Going again to the “glory days” with a handful of the characters most related to them appears to be a good suggestion in maybe luring again the viewers that absconded from the present due to its exhausting size or unpopular artistic selections. The debut of The Ones Who Dwell nabbed 3 million viewers, a far cry from the large numbers it as soon as landed a decade in the past, even contemplating TV viewership being down on the whole. Nonetheless, it’s a marked enchancment from the comparatively measly viewers of the ultimate season. And AMC is happy with the show’s performance on its streaming service, AMC Plus.

As a approach to reignite its narrative efficiency, it’s a extra questionable course. Dead Metropolis, particularly, suffers from a “been there, done that” feeling — didn’t Maggie already type of forgive Negan for whacking her beloved Glenn with a baseball bat again within the authentic? Do we actually want one other sequence the place they’ve to play an apocalyptic odd couple and undergo the identical emotional arc once more?

Picture: Emmanuel Guimier/AMC

Maggie (Lauren Cohan) holding a knife to Negan’s (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) throat

Picture: Peter Kramer/AMC

Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Rick (Andrew Lincoln) standing and looking at some zombies in the woods in a still from The Ones Who Live

Picture: AMC

Daryl Dixon thrives on Norman Reedus’ bottomless nicely of likability and a fascinating environment. And with finest pal Carol co-headlining the upcoming season 2 of his spinoff, we’re probably to get something no less than considerably watchable. Nonetheless, with franchise overseer Scott Gimple seemingly set on one day reuniting the gang, will it will definitely really feel like Daryl ’n’ Carol are simply spinning their (motorbike) wheels till we will get the Avengers of Walking Dead aspect initiatives? And aren’t all of those Walking Dead spinoff leads coming collectively simply… The Walking Dead?

And contemplating that The Walking Dead ended with a glance towards the longer term, what wider which means is there for them to reunite apart from a nostalgic group hug? The zombies have turn out to be a little bit of an afterthought because the world strikes towards rebuilding itself, they usually principally function a fleshy impediment course in 2024. There is at all times some terrific gruesomeness to be mined from The Walking Dead’s constantly stellar make-up and sensible results, however piecing the solid again collectively for the only real goal of seeing them beside each other, squaring off in opposition to undead hordes, feels just a little empty. The Walking Dead managed to shock us in its early years thanks to its dedication to going the space in displaying that nobody is secure from the zombies, however a reunion tour of all of the people who have been clearly secure misunderstands the “glory years” that the creators need to return to.

Fortunately, The Ones Who Dwell is tapping into some much-needed emotional territory and making it seem to be the occasion that it desires to be (even when the zombie horror facet has lengthy since rotted). Rick Grimes, now a longtime soldier of the paramilitary group CRM, should reconcile together with his guilt and survival instincts when Michonne, his sword-wielding accomplice and the mom of his youngest baby, comes again into his life to corral him and convey him dwelling. It’s something that Grimes wrestles with, as heading off may put him and the folks he loves within the line of fireside from the CRM, who has some severe filth on him and the group he left behind.

“What We,” the fourth episode of the brand new present, could be top-of-the-line within the franchise’s historical past that doesn’t concentrate on undead bloodshed. An excellent chunk of it is devoted to Rick and Michonne arguing and at last getting to replicate upon the world-weariness that an expertise like this is able to instill. Specifically, Rick finds it onerous to return to his household due to what occurred together with his late son Carl, and The Ones Who Dwell offers him an opportunity to correctly grieve for those who don’t. He doesn’t need anybody to have to undergo that form of ache once more, nor does he consider that he’d give you the option to. They’d all be a lot safer if he bore the burden of their tragedy alone. It is misguided patriarchal martyrdom, but it surely is smart for Rick.

Michonne (Danai Gurira) standing above Rick (Andrew Lincoln) holding his chin in her hand

Picture: Gene Web page/AMC

After all, Michonne is in a position to persuade him of the truth that he’s Rick Grimes, that he shouldn’t surrender, that there’s extra on the market for the pair, and many others. However Rick Grimes being decreased to an anxious, melancholy shell of a person and giving him an final redemption makes The Ones Who Dwell really feel like a becoming narrative follow-up to The Walking Dead and the closest factor the present has gotten to a correct epilogue. It might have very simply been a hole try to draw within the unconvinced crowd with “Hey, it’s that sheriff guy that you liked!” As a substitute, it competently grapples with Rick as a personality that’s been via a lot trauma reasonably than Rick as a returning motion hero.

On a wider stage, The Ones Who Dwell may also function a becoming cap to the escalating threats of the present. The “We are the Walking Dead” mindset, the place the bodily menace of the zombie (amid a popular culture saturation of zombie media on the time) was no match for the terrifying specter of your fellow man, produced dangerous guys just like the unstable Governor, the brutal Negan, and a bunch of different antagonists that ranged from wannabe cults to cannibals. The CRM, a military outfitted with large firepower that is keen to regulate the world to its particular definition of legislation by power, is the logical “final boss” of The Walking Dead. By combating again in opposition to them, Rick and Michonne aren’t simply taking over a rival group however serving to resolve the order of the longer term.

The place this leaves the tip purpose of The Walking Dead stays to be seen. It might all be pointing towards some eventual grand reunion, provided that the unique present concluded with Michonne and Daryl each working off to discover Rick. However the first seasons of each Dead Metropolis and Daryl Dixon finish with the exhibits spiraling off additional into their very own particular plots, so will probably be some time earlier than the gang will get again collectively once more.

Till then, The Walking Dead franchise is in, basically, its DLC period. What you need out of The Walking Dead depends upon how hooked up you’re to sure characters, and by chance, there’s now DLC aspect quests out there for a number of of them. It stays to be seen if these threads will ever interconnect once more (now that each actor is on their very own present, AMC would even have to take care of a truckload of contractual points if it wished to then push them again into the identical sequence), so till then, The Walking Dead survives totally on viewers curiosity within the solo exploits of characters it labored to construct collectively. With 11 seasons of the principle present, AMC did loads of asking for you to await plots to be resolved and character arcs to be fulfilled. And now, with the trace of larger issues to come and a bunch of orbiting spinoffs, it’s asking you to wait just a bit whereas longer. For what? We’ll simply have to see.

The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Dwell is now streaming on AMC Plus.

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