The Surprising Plot Twist That Will Save 'The Walking Dead'
Is The Walking Dead...dying?
Once in awhile, I'll stop nibbling around the edges and swallow a TV show whole.
The best television fare is served up hot and crispy, with distinctive flavors, episode after episode. A good series ends with a satisfying belch. After this season's bellyful of The Walking Dead, I can't resist popping a pre-emptive antacid.
I confess: I'm not normally a fan of the genre. I liked Zombieland (especially the first half) and the campy original Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but generally...meh.
AMC's The Walking Dead is not really about, well...the walking dead. Its more of a 'gozy'--a cozy, gory mystery. Part of its success is that it's not even a TV show: it's a drawn-out 'last cast member standing' zombie movie. The Walking Dead kills off actors with lavish glee--but not before tying the viewer's heartstrings to a new character (or an unappreciated characteristic of an existing one).
The Rise & Demise of the Despised (Season Five)
Every story needs a villian.
The curse of series television success means that The Walking Dead drags out the 'rise and demise of this season's despised' until killing off the nemesis is more of a merciful relief.
The mere threat of 2016's bad guy d'jour, the nebulous Negan, threaded the show. He made his bloodway debut on the season finale. I wouldn't be surprised if the writers had a nasty private nickname for Negan, some thinly veiled metaphor for NRA activists. "Need Gun" seems apropos.
Rotting Flesh Ranks High on Rotten Tomatoes
When the Center Cannot Hold...
Until this year's finale, Rick has at least retained both testicles. When characters lose their integrity, mere anarchy is loosed upon the TV screen.
When Carol (Melissa McBride), the feminine model of selfless strength, began to wax (weakly) philosophical in the kidnapping episode, I could see the target being drawn on her back. I kept asking myself, "Who wrote this...and why?"
I was embarrassed for actor Andrew Lincoln when Rick was forced to his knees during the season finale. Is this a metaphor for the NRA's hold on America?
I wanted the season finale to be a feast, not a 'character sacrifice' Rick and Carol.
How Many Ways Can you Serve up Sliced Zombie?
The Walking Dead is starting to taste like microwaved monster meat. Any good TV show might have a soft show or two, but the viewer's connection to the characters should sustain even the most critical fan.
I understand that, for the season premiere and finale, writers need to drag out forty minutes worth of plot to cover an additional twenty minutes of airtime (not including commercials).
Boy howdy, I feel for TV writers. If the first few episodes of any TV series gets viewers to salivate, the writers celebrate AND tremble. How many ways can you serve up sliced zombie? How many love affairs, conspiracies, and untimely deaths do viewers tolerate before we become The Watching Dead?
TV shows often degenerate into stale soap operas that differ in the details: Star Trek, House of Cards, Empire, Bonanza, Game of Thrones...change the costumes, timelines and props, and many plot lines are interchangeable.
Scholars say there are only 36 dramatic situations, after all. That's five seasons of programming, right?
The Walking Dead: Survivor!
No TV series lasts forever.
I'm giving The Walking Dead two, maybe three seasons--but that's iff (if and only if) they do what I think must be done.
Someone must survive the big bite.
How It Happens
No pathogen kills everyone.
Even the most virulent pandemics--the Spanish Flu, Ice Ages, the Republican Primaries--will leave someone standing.
The Walking Dead could have its best season ever...if, very soon, someone survives.
*A newcomer to Rick's clan could plant a rumor that an infectious disease specialist (a cameo performance by Dr. Anthony Fauci, National Institutes of Health) has finally come up with a zombie vaccine.
Who will lead Rick's clan to the cure? The wuss who, several seasons ago, cried wolf! Eugene (Josh McDermitt) is the logical hero for this plot line.
*Come on...it's like Grand Central Station just outside those compound walls. Hordes of undead, Negan's massive gang...Zombified Georgia is crawling with the living and the undead (maybe that explains their legislature's neanderthal proclivities regarding LGBT rights).
How's it Going to Happen?
Could immunity be triggered by a homeopathic/immune response? Someone who was drooled on, not bitten...perhaps a character, who, after being exposed to victims' precious bodily fluids time after time, is served up as a Walking Dead entree. (S)he waits to die, realizing just before (s)he blows her brains out (cliffhanger, season 6 finale) that (s)he realizes her own blood could carry the cure.
Another possibility? Maggie's infant, removed via Caesarian section, after Maggie is bitten, just before she turns. Maternal immunity is an amazing thing.
Are there pockets of resistant populations throughout the globe?
he Walking Dead Chorus Line (Exit, Stage right)
The Best of Both TV Worlds: A Total Zombie Apocalypse
No network, cable TV company or premium channel has braided two highly rated shows over three seasons, and brought them together for (DRUMROLL) the series finale to beat all series finales.
If I'm right, the cast and crew of Fear the Walking Dead have maybe two seasons before they're axed.
The best way to build a satisfying, synergistic conclusion to both shows--and lay the foundation for a possible THIRD post-apocalyptic TV series--is to have a character in The Walking Dead stumble upon one (or more) of the cast members from Fear the Walking Dead.
Before you groan: it's not far-fetched that a survivor would wander into Rick's compound. That interloper could work with Eugene. Regardless of gender, the newcomer should also sleep with him (Eugene deserves a little).
Is humanity's co-savior the weak-willed, drug-addicted teen Nick Clark (Frank Dillane) from Fear the Walking Dead, whose pre-poisoned pathology somehow inhibits Zombie DNA replication? Doubtful. 'Druggies inherit the earth' might be a hard sell to advertisers. I'm leaning toward a female Hispanic character (that's gotta help syndication value).
Everyone who'e been eaten (so far) has suffered and died: a nibble has been as good as a nosh. It's about time, for the sake of the humane demise of The Walking Dead, that someone survives.
The Deadly Departed
Can the survivor of a Zombie bite transfer immunity? Will the immunity fade? With the ruination of scientific facilities, how can this elixir be manufactured? Does the survivor have to bite her peers or is this stuff injectable? Does the carrier go mad?
Is that person treated like a pariah? Is she worshipped? Obviously she's in danger of being bled dry, or kidnapped.
As the combined series draws to a close, we find out that Big Pharma is at fault for the entire zombie epidemic. Rick's clan invades the subterranean enclave of surviving drug company executives--old Minuteman II nuclear silos near Great Falls, Montana: they are out for blood.
The survivors (if ratings merit) will star in the replacement show, The Deadly Departed.
Sunday nights, on AMC, Fall, 2019? Ewww. Let's watch!