Tuesday, June 26, 2018

I No Longer Fear the Walking Dead

I watched the mid-season finale of Fear the Walking Dead last night and it felt like a series finale. This is unusual because mid-season finales are typically cliffhangers, but there was a feeling of finality to season 4's episode 8, with all of the current plot threads having been resolved and no lingering questions remaining. And I'm happy with that. I have closure, which means it's a good time to stop watching.

No one lives happily ever after in the zombie apocalypse, and this season drove that home. It started with four members of the original surviving cast, and by episode 8 that number had been cut in half. I didn't want to see the remaining original character that I liked (Victor Strand) be killed or reduced to a shadow of his former greatness by meddling writers.

It's interesting the way that FtWD differs from its parent series, The Walking Dead.  The biggest difference, of course, is that FtWD is completely its own creature and can follow its own course instead of having to follow in the footsteps of the comics, but there were others. For me, the most important difference is how the characters died: in TWD there was a pattern of "You know a major character will die soon because you're starting to hate them" -- or at least, this was true back when it was written well and they didn't kill popular characters just for shock value (Tyreese, Abraham, Glenn) -- but in FtWD the pattern was "Kill off a character as soon as they become too competent/acclimated to the world" (Travis, Ofelia, Nick, Madison).

The deaths of Nick and Madison really bothered me. I was frankly shocked that Nick was killed because I considered him uniquely qualified to survive the zombie apocalypse. I even called him "the cockroach" because I felt that he and roaches could survive anything.

Madison's death bothered me for a different reason: they'd been leading up to it all season, and instead of having a dramatic action sequence for the last quarter of the episode, they instead took an artistic path and focused almost entirely on her face and body. It was interesting, to be sure, but it wasn't very satisfying.

The show has introduced more characters, of course. I don't care about most of them, and I actively despise both Charlie and LauraNaomiJune. About the only new character I like is John Dorie, and he's such a nice guy that I know he's going to die horribly, probably at the hands of one of the women.

No, I don't care about Morgan, the TWD crossover character. I find him simultaneously preachy and hypocritical ("All life is precious"... until he loses his temper, that is). I do, however, find it indicative of the current state of TWD's morality that the one person with an ethical code chose to leave rather than stick around. But that's what happens when the writers murder the show's conscience for sake of drama.

Speaking of TWD, I stopped watching it last year because it was an abusive relationship. No, really; the writers manipulated me and fucked with me. First they left me hanging for seven months, wondering who Negan would kill; then they shocked us all with "The person everyone thought was going to die survived... haha, faked you out, we killed him too!" About half of the season was useless padding (who can forget the thrilling Sasha and Rosita Go For a Walk?) and the other half was the characters figuratively eating shit, never giving them a victory and forcing them to be humiliated to survive. Finally, at the big season ender -- after half a season of "We're going to war!" -- not a single villain of importance dies. Not the big bad, not even one of his lieutenants. Nope, even then, the audience was denied emotional satisfaction.

So I stopped watching, and I'm glad I did. From what I hear of this past season, I made the right choice. They killed off Carl, and the actor who plays Rick is going to leave at the end of next season. I don't know what that means for the fate of the show, since the writers have said that Rick is the hero of the story. Maybe they'll make Daryl and Michonne the heroes. I don't know, and I no longer care. The writers made it plain they didn't respect me, that they enjoyed manipulating me, and would continue to jerk me around. Once I realized that, I was free of them.

I left The Walking Dead with anger that turned to contempt. With Fear the Walking Dead, I have an entirely different feeling: satisfaction. The story has reached a natural end and I don't need to see more. I'm fine.

I have closure.

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