If you ever read any of my articles on The Walking Dead from MoviePilot, you know I haven’t always agreed with the decisions the writers, producers, and show-runners have made. To say I still feel this way after episode 809 is an understatement.
The Walking Dead is known for its character deaths, especially after the season seven premier where we lost both Glenn and Abraham. I’ve always agreed with the character deaths in the past because they served the story. Even when the death broke my heart.
Carl needed Dale’s death to understand his actions had consequences. Maggie, Beth, and Rick needed Hershel’s death for motivation to stop trying to negotiate and begin to stand up for themselves at the prison. I needed Beth’s death to stop feeling as though the production was trying to make the character into something it just wasn’t.
But I have to call bullspit on Carl’s death. I honestly believe this death was Scott Gimple attempting to boost the ratings as the show is beginning its death spiral. Carl’s death doesn’t serve the story and didn’t get rid of a character no one liked. Instead, it was a 45-minute, self-serving, ego-building, craptastic waste of screen time.
Rick and Michonne were already motivated to take out Negan and the Saviors, so turning Rick into the grieving father meant nothing to the story. Daryl had already lost his mind and screwed up more of the plan than he normally would have, so he didn’t need Carl’s loss to make him reckless. The other characters don’t even know about Carl’s death, so it didn’t serve their stories either.
Scott Gimple, who thankfully has been removed as show-runner for next season, has been responsible for most of my least favorite moments of this show. He made audiences wait three weeks for the “hand of god” saving of Glenn when he was under the dumpster. He allowed episodes like "Slabtown" and "Swear" to be run, despite the focus on characters fans don’t need stand-alone episodes for. Now, he killed off the character I believe might have been able to save this show from certain death.
Audiences are tired of Rick’s back and forth struggle with himself. They want leadership that has compassion but also has the strength to keep the group alive. They wanted Carl to take over from Rick when he finally makes that fatal mistake, but now that’s not a possibility. Now, fans are left with no clear successor for Rick (especially as Daryl’s character spirals into something even die-hard Daryl fans don’t like anymore) and a new reason for Rick to lose his shit yet again, likely costing the lives of yet more of the characters fans love. And likely while leaving alive those characters many fans are just sick of.
So what’s coming next? Honestly, I don’t think I care. I’ve invested seven years in the story and, on a personal level, three years of dating a Savior, and I’m tired. I’m tired of being disappointed. I’m tired of knowing how the story is going to go because of past (mistakes) decisions made by the writers and the show-runner. I’m sick of watching Tara and Rosita, and even Daryl, act impulsively to force a storyline to move forward rather than having well-written episodes that don’t rely on character flaws to advance.
The writers, directors, producers, and editors are going to have to do an awful lot for me to care about this show much longer. Sunday’s episode felt like a chore rather than a joy, and I attended a viewing party in Atlanta. If I weren’t looking for a certain Savior and his ponytail, I probably wouldn’t bother watching the rest of the season.