How I renewed my broken relationship with The Walking Dead
I just finished watching the final season of The Walking Dead, and I have to talk about it.
Yes, I know the series ended its final season three months ago. But, due to life circumstances, I was behind two whole seasons, and had to wait for season 11 to come up on Netflix to get caught up. To be honest, the series more or less lost its luster for me a few seasons back.
I was one of those super-fans prior to season 9, and had faithfully watched each new episode live, or recorded it to watch a day or two later. I can clearly remember the night of October 31, 2010, when the first episode aired. The previews looked interesting, and I am obviously a fan of horror, so I expected to like The Walking Dead. To say it exceeded my expectations is to understate my feelings about it. I was immediately addicted.
During its all-too-short six-episode first season, The Walking Dead proved that it was not just any other horror series…it meant business. Each episode felt more like a movie than a tv series, and it somehow managed to make you fall in love with nearly every character. Rick was an obvious love match with every viewer, thanks to his bravery and his determination to find his wife and son.
But sometimes that character love was complicated. Merle and Daryl were obviously loose cannons, and didn’t have the typical character traits that invest you. But, they were so interesting and nuanced!
Season one showed us from the get-go that AMC wasn’t playing. The gore was marvelously excessive, and we learned early on that they weren’t afraid to kill off major characters. Andrea’s sister Amy (played by Emma Bell) seemed like she would be in the series for the long run, but was instead killed by walkers in episode four.
This trend would continue throughout The Walking Dead’s 11 seasons. Of the original ten or so main characters, only Daryl and Carol were still standing by the final episode. Maggie would join the group in season two (along with her ultimately doomed family members), Eugene and Rosita first showed up in the fourth season, and Father Gabriel and Aaron didn’t make an appearance until season five.
What made The Walking Dead even more captivating was the way our beloved main characters evolved along their travels. In my book, the biggest evolution belonged to Carol (beautifully played by Melissa McBride). In the first season, Carol was a meek abused wife. She was barely on the radar, but that changed as she grew stronger after her husband was killed during the same attack that killed Amy. One of The Walking Dead’s most heart wrenching scenes, at least for me, was after Carol’s little girl Sophia disappeared during a walker invasion. The group searched for her in vain, but she did eventually show up again. When it came to light that Hershel’s barn was housing a hoard of walkers, viewers were shocked to see poor little Sophia stumbling out among them.
By season 11, Carol was definitely a main player (and major bad a**), able to pretend to be soft spoken and amiable one moment, but able to make incredibly brutal decisions for the good of her family in the next. She was even exiled at one point for taking it upon herself to set fire to two “family members” during the deadly flu epidemic at the prison. But, even after that transgression, she proved herself to be an MVP to the dwindling group of survivors.
My obsession with The Walking Dead reached its peak when Negan came into the picture in season six. The six months between the season six finale and the season seven premiere were agonizing for me. I was literally unable to sleep the night before The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be, A/K/A “the episode with the barbed wire-wrapped baseball bat.”
I have never before (or since) felt so much like I was actually in a television series episode, both with the season six finale, and the first episode of season seven. I WAS one of those terrified people, kneeling on my knees in that open field. And I felt their anguish when Negan killed both Abraham and Glenn.
I began to fall a little out of love with the series when Carl died in season eight. I still feel like that was a really bad decision on the part of the writers, it took some heart out of the show. But, I truly loved the character of Judith, who was literally ripped from her mother’s womb shortly before Lori was eaten by walkers.
She was a fierce force of nature, wearing her father’s deputy hat, never afraid to square off to save her family. And it was a great decision to have her voice over most of the final season’s episodes, which frequently caused me to tear up by showing the faces of those we lost; Dale, Andrea, Beth, Sophia, Abraham, Glenn, Sasha, and so many more.
As I said earlier, an unfortunate and very traumatic incident in my personal life resulted in my totally missing the tenth season. I caught up with it about six months ago when it came to Netflix, and I did the same when the final season was finally available to stream.
I think AMC did a stellar job with season 11. I fell right back into the world of The Walking Dead, and it was a very emotional season for me. I wept multiple times, with most of my tears shed over Rosita’s noble death.
True to form, we even got a new
cult leader villain to hate in Governor Milton, leader of the Commonwealth. As played by Laila Robins, Milton was ice cold, and I just couldn’t wait for her to get what she had coming to her.
It really was a satisfying final season, and I am 100% invested in The Walking Dead again. I will definitely watch the spinoff series when they finally make their premieres!
We’re dying to know how you felt about the final season of The Walking Dead. Tell us all about it in the comments section.