Ten (yes, ten) years ago, a brand-new television show arrived on our screens that is still airing today. To put that in perspective: ten years ago, Brian Cowen was still Taoiseach, David Cameron became Prime Minister of the UK, Fred was the king of YouTube, and Jedward were not political figures yet. The show, based off one of the most popular comic books of the twenty-first century, became an instant hit and has seen the highest highs and the lowest lows television has to offer. That show? AMC’s The Walking Dead, which is finally coming to an end in 2022. Well, sort of.
Look back through the archives on the University Express website, and you will find a scathing review of the show, and what it became, as it approached its ninth season. Let me tell you, that article made some great points. The show did not know what to do anymore. It was hanging on by its fingertips. The showrunner before season nine, Scott Gimple, almost single handedly ruined the show by not caring about plot progression and character development, instead focusing on tension and cheap moments of shock. The fact that season seven and eight could have easily been wrapped up in 16 episodes without any needless dragging speaks volumes.
Management up at AMC knew something had to change before things went from bad to worse. They had lost millions of fans, most of them left after the gruesome season seven premiere, with Gimple wanting gasps before anything else. They lost star cast members.
Reviews were getting worse and worse. Without hesitation, they moved Gimple off to Fear the Walking Dead, the spin-off which was becoming more popular than its parent series at that point. Guess what? That show sucks now. In his place came Angela Kang. I am still not sure how she did it, but she saved The Walking Dead.
Trust me, if you watched The Walking Dead and stopped somewhere around season seven or eight, get back into it and watch season nine and ten. Angela Kang performed a water-into-wine miracle in a time of turbulence. The show suffered the high-profile departure of leading man Andrew Lincoln, as he wanted to leave to spend time with his family. The Walking Dead without Rick Grimes was hard to imagine, he was the protagonist after all! Kang though, made it work -somehow- by introducing a time-jump after Rick’s departure, six years into the future. Now, Norman Reedus’ Daryl Dixon is the main man, and he is absolutely killing it with the freedom given after being left muttering and grumbling twice an episode under Gimple.
The world of The Walking Dead is completely different now to how it was during season eight when it was Negan walking around with plot armour as Rick and friends kept fighting each other. Now, there are new, interesting villains called the Whisperers, led by Samantha Morton’s Alpha (fun fact: she voiced Ruby in the old kids’ show Max and Ruby). Your favourites are still around, from Carol to Rosita to Ezekiel, while new likable characters have also joined the group. They have all become more competent and have excellent chemistry with each other. The time-jump was a breath of fresh air that was well needed, and the show has stayed afloat thanks to it.
The show has gotten back to its best and reviews have never been higher. Season ten has been acclaimed. Kang created her ideal Walking Dead universe. She got the characters into the storylines that she wanted. She knew who to bring in, who to phase out and how the story was going to go before she clicked a button. When I watched season seven and eight on those Monday nights after conquering double History in secondary school, it almost felt like I was forcing myself to keep my eyes on the screen. Dipping my custard creams into my tea was more entertaining than watching Rick negotiate with the junkyard people. Now, I am at the edge of my seat whenever Alpha and her compatriot, Beta – played by Sons of Anarchy’s Ryan Hurst – appear, because I never know what to expect.
The Walking Dead is back to its very best, and Kang wants the show to end on a high. Thirty episodes lie between now and its conclusion in 2022. A whopping twenty-four episodes in season 11 shows determination to wrap up the story, and it is sure to be a hell of a ride. While the show will come to an end, there will be an afterlife, with a spin-off starring Daryl and Carol set to air shortly afterwards. The season ten ‘finale’ aired on October 5th and there are six additional episodes set to air sometime next year as the show prepares to say a long goodbye. If you dumped the show sometime before season nine, I strongly encourage giving it another chance. The show, funnily enough, came back from the dead.