The 6 Best And Worst Things About The Walking Dead Season 7 So Far
Disclaimer: There will be spoilers!
The Walking Dead’s mid-season finale is behind us and hardcore fans may find themselves asking one question: what the hell?! The slow pace of the current season of the zombie apocalypse drama has shaken the confidence of viewers, leading some to ask: is the show running out of steam?
Luckily there are still a few bright moments to save The Walking Dead from total failure. The following is a breakdown of the strengths and weakness of the first 8 episodes of Season 7 of The Walking Dead.
Flop #1 – Bottle episodes
A "bottle episode" is an episode that uses as few cast members or locations as possible. They focus on character building at a slower pace than regular episodes. The Walking Dead has used bottle episodes in the past, like Season 6’s “Here’s Not Here.” It was a strong episode giving us an in-depth look at Morgan. It showed his progression from crazy homicidal dude to someone that likes to talk about how "all life is precious."
Season 7 has had 4 bottle episodes. They have shown different groups that will play a role in the war with the Saviors. The episodes aren’t terrible, but they have ground the plot to a halt. The Saviors are the most dangerous group the survivors have faced yet, but the show has given viewers a lull instead of action. Bottle episodes should be a break in pace, yet Season 7 has seen them become the primary method of storytelling.
Success #1 – The show feels more epic in scope (when they do it right)
The last two episodes of Season 7 have moved away from the bottle episodes to show us that the creators of the show still have a few aces up their sleeves. Episode 7 shows the Sanctuary and different groups of Alexandrians. Episode 8 also adds our friends from the Hilltop and the Kingdom into the mix. Every scene is meaningful, as opposed to bottle episodes where we get a couple of minutes of Tara walking around (but hey, at least she found a cool pair of shades). In its best moments the show made me think of Game of Thrones, a series that has a large cast that is well used. Is that kind of epic scope the future for The Walking Dead? It might be, but that doesn’t make Season 7’s stretch of bottle episodes any less painful.
Flop #2 – Asking viewers to suspend too much disbelief
Realism is hard to ask of a show that centers around a zombie apocalypse. Even still, characters and their motivations should at least feel real. There are times this season where The Walking Dead feels more campy than dramatic. Take Ezekiel, the man who calls himself a king, who talks in Shakespearean English and has a pet tiger to boot.
Another example is Spencer’s note in Latin from Episode 7. He finds a note written in Latin on a walker but he’s in luck because guess what – the guy just happens to know Latin. Forget that he had just left the priest Father Gabriel, who could reasonably know some Latin from his religious education. Why did the letter have to be in Latin in the first place? The situation felt contrived, hinging on the statement that "his mother thought it would be useful in the future." Couldn't the writers find a better way to communicate that he thought his mother was a better leader than Rick (and apparently a psychic)?
Also, don’t give the characters so many opportunities to kill Negan if they aren’t going to take them! Carl went to the Savior’s base, the Sanctuary, with the sole intention of killing Negan. When he has a loaded assault rifle pointed at the man, he decides not to go for the shot? The show needs to be dramatic but some of the situations are asking a bit much of the audience.
Success #2 – Strong women
While the men of the show are whimpering beneath Negan’s rule, the female cast members of the show are stronger than ever. We’ve seen a lot of man tears (and a snotty nosed Rick Grimes) but Rosita, Maggie, Sasha, and Michonne are still determined to take back their independence. Hell, we even got an episode devoted to a whole community of women that didn’t need men among them to survive. Here’s hoping the ladies will teach the boys something in the rest of the season.
Flop #3 – Not enough screen time with the main characters
Rick, the lead, was only in half of the episodes of the season. Carol, a fan favorite, was only in two of them. While a lot of this is due to the bottle episodes, some of the new actors aren’t of the same caliber. The weak performances of characters like Tara, Beatrice (Ms. Bucktooth from the all-female Oceanside), and Jerry drag down the first half of the season.
Jerry: If you need me, just holler. I keep in hollerin’ range. *cringes uncontrollably*
The show’s success builds on the back of beloved characters played by talented actors. Season 7 has broken away from this to give viewers a perspective on different communities and survivors, often to its own detriment. But look… fine, I’ll admit it, no shame – I’m a Rick Grimes fanboy. And damn it, we need more Rick, and we need him doing lots of stuff and thangs.
Success #3 – Other characters are getting time to shine
In the absence of Glenn and Abraham (I’m still mourning), other characters are getting a turn in the spotlight. Last season we saw Father Gabriel reciting a prayer before shooting a guy in the face just like Jules from Pulp Fiction. He has more scenes this season and they’ve all highlighted just how interesting of a character he’s become.
Rosita is finally a main character with her own plot. In the past she has been more of a plot device for Abraham, but now we really get to see her shine. Every line of hers is dripping with venom. Her attitude is scarier than Negan at times, making her a character we want to see more of.
Flop #4 – We get it, Negan is mean
Negan is a mean mofo. We gathered that enough when he split a couple of fan favorites' heads with a baseball bat. We understand he's mean when he steals Dwight’s wife from him and brags about it to his face, which ain’t so pretty cause of Negan. We see it when he makes lewd comments and makes uncomfortable fat jokes. It’s who he is, an essential part of his character, but it’s just so overdone. When we see more Neganisms than we do plot developments, we know the writers might just be swooning over their new onscreen character. We get it, we really do – he loves being an ass just as much as he loves that damn baseball bat.
Success #4 – But he’s still a show stealer
Ignoring that we're having Negan shoved down our throats, Jeffrey Dean Morgan does a great job in his portrayal. Some of his line delivery is going down the path of cliché. Read this in Negan’s voice: "easy peasy, lemon squeezy, and you might understand what I mean." His interactions with Carl in “Sing Me A Song” are some of the best scenes of the season. They show a more realistic side of Negan and serve as a delightful reprieve from his role as charismatic schoolyard bully.
Flop #5 – Too much set-up
So far, Season 7 has introduced us to a couple of new groups. The introductions have set up who these communities are and their approach to survival. Beyond that, there is not much in the way of involving them in future episodes. They will be important down the line, but this half season hasn’t done a great job of explaining the how or why. We’ve gotten the starting points for their storyline, and that's it. As a result, the first half of Season 7 hasn't been compelling to watch. If they're going to split the season into two halves then it needs to be two halves that are separate and whole. Season 7A doesn't stand alone, emphasizing the pacing issues The Walking Dead is facing.
Success #5 – The end of annoying cliffhangers?
After the critically panned Season 6 cliffhanger, we can assume the show’s creators have learned not to tease the fans. The mid-season finale saw two deaths and a completed arc revolving around Rick’s submission to Negan. There were no loose threads and we get to look forward to what’s coming next without agonizing over what we should have already seen.
Flop #6 – Not enough zombies
There are only a handful of scenes where walkers even seem to be a threat. Humans have long been the primary threat on the show and the survivors are adept at dealing with the undead. We saw that in last season’s invasion of Alexandria, but damn it, zombies are still fun. The few scenes that have featured zombies lack tension because they either revolve around Rick (who we know won’t die) or other major "unkillable" cast members. With all the fun we’ve had with the zombies in the past, it is disappointing to see so few of them.
Success #6 – Zombie creativity
We saw Rick dangling from a walker only for its body to part from its head and send him crashing to the ground. We saw a walker with sand pouring out of every orifice. We've seen Jesus roundhouse kick walkers to death (hell yes). We know the show’s creators can conjure up some interesting zombie action when they need to.
Overall, Season 7 of The Walking Dead has been plagued with pacing issues and bottle episodes. We could forgive the other flaws could if they could at least get the pacing right. All hope is not lost. The introductions are out of the way and the second half is set up to be more exciting. If the pacing keeps faltering, the show could lose a lot of momentum. The big drop in ratings the show has seen indicates that audiences aren't willing to wait forever for a payoff. Keep your fingers crossed because what happens next is anyone’s guess.
Do you disagree? Were we too hard on the show or not hard enough? Leave a comment and let us know what you think!
For more articles like these, be sure to Like us on Facebook with the button below.