Aimless. There probably isn’t a more apt word to describe what The Walking Dead has become. The showrunning situation may now have stability with Scott M. Gimple having been around for two seasons and signed on for season six, but it is hard to argue the merry-go-round of lead writers over the first few seasons has left the show in a creative rut for too long. It also doesn’t help that Robert Kirkman, whose presence on the show is felt more and more as the series gets older, must be surrounded by a bunch of yes man because his source material is quite aimless as well. Survive or die, group reorganizes, goes to new location and then survives or dies again is all The Walking Dead comic book series is and it’s the only thing that the TV series, now five seasons old, has become.
Season five of The Walking Dead picks up with Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and company trying to escape the cannibals that captured them in the fourth season finale. With the help of Carol (Melissa McBride), the group is able to manufacture an escape and continue on to their next source of hope, Alexandria.
Say what you will about the sexism and the over exposed villains (the Governor being the most complained about example) but The Walking Dead had a sense of being event television in its first few seasons. The show wasn’t inventing the wheel so we shouldn’t be surprised how repetitive this show is now considering most of its signature characteristics are ripped straight from other shows such as Lost, but it did everything with enough cinematic quality and surprising tension that it was must watch television even in its weaker moments. Now though after seeing the thousandth zombie kill and yet another human antagonist that is worst than the last without any real or earned character development (for instance, the character development of Carol has no basis in reality whatsoever) the only thing that is making the show an event anymore is its ubiquity. At this point it’s very much similar to the program that it competes with to be the top dog in the ratings, NFL football. Both are just terrible products that just draws people in only because everyone else watches them.
Characters such as Abraham and Tyreese did get their moments this season and the finale did recapture the cinematic quality the show was able to achieve in earlier seasons (the editing of the last half of that episode is some of the finest craft work you will see on television), but it is really hard to get invested in a show with so few interesting characters or plotlines. That becomes even more of a problem when normally reliable characters such as Maggie, Glenn and Michonne are sidelined more than ever and the one thing that reliably brought this show to the next level (Lennie James’ performance as Morgan) was waved around without any real meaning until the dying moments of the season.
The fifth season of The Walking Dead reveals a show that is resting on its laurels way too much.