Another season finale of The Walking Dead has aired and yet again the internet has exploded with outrage. This has become commonplace with fans of the series. A week has gone by and the events of the season finale have had time to settle in our minds. Now that the emotions have simmered, a rational reflection of the finale is feasible.
The series has received backlash for the season finale. It has even reached a point where Chris Hardwick, host of the AMC after show The Talking Dead, has publicly come to the writers’ defense. According to Hardwick, the writing of the final episode wasn’t bad writing at all but good storytelling. I partially agree with Hardwick. I never considered the season to have been badly written. But after viewing the episode again, that feeling has been affirmed.
The episode was slow, and could have been condensed and compressed a bit. The tension in the episode combined with the foreshadowing was excellent. So like Hardwick, I also disagree with the claims that the show wasn’t written well. What I disagree with is the fact that the episode was satisfactory.
The one aspect the writers missed out on was the payoff. A story needs to have a beginning, middle, and an end. A season to a tv series is like a novel in a book series. The story may not be over when the book ends, but a conclusion must be reached so that the story can move forward. In my opinion, this is where the season finale of The Walking Dead fails.
There was no conclusion. There was no payoff. There was just a cheap cliffhanger. A series of the caliber of The Walking Dead does not need to rely on such tactics to maintain its audience. That is mostly because of the great writing the show consistently exhibits. So why not give your loyal fanbase the ending it deserved? Why not give them the payoff? Now the hype surrounding the new season will be who Negan killed instead of the true cliffhanger of the finale. The true cliffhanger was how the Alexandrians respond to the more powerful than expected Negan and his collection of Saviors.
I know there is a sect on the internet that hates the fan backlash this show generates. Sure, there are times it gets out of hand. The outrage over Glenn’s apparent death was a little much. I understand the argument that fans should enjoy the ride and not complain every time one of their favorites bites it. This is different. This isn’t about who they killed off or how they killed them off. This quail is with the irresponsibly of the showrunners to not deliver a proper payoff for the time invested in their show.
No I’m not one of those people who rant and rave about how I’m going to stop watching the show like some. I’m just disappointed. As fans, we have the ability to voice our opinions and Walking Dead fans are particularly vocal. But when the outcry of The Walking Dead fanbase begins to grind on your nerves a bit, just remember this. It is a water cooler topic in which classmates, coworkers, and colleagues discuss the events of the newest episode. It is event television. But the coolest thing is that it is a show based on a comicbook, published from a company other than the big two (Marvel and DC) that has transcended pop culture. This fanbase is passionate, and that can only help influence more projects and series based on comicbook properties in the future.