One Of The Biggest Shows Of The 2010’s, TWD Revolutionized The Zombie Subgenre And Reframed TV Exec. Paradigms – A Bleak ATL Post-Apocalyptic Survival-Drama Of Tact Characterization, Emotional Resonance, Intimate Storytelling, And Layered Humanity Discourse/Analysis In Forests And Small Towns > Gore And Epic-Scale CGI Mayhem, Proving Quality And Uber-Popularity Don’t Have To Be Mutually-Exclusive [Even If Too Many Seasons]. 8.8/10.
Plot Synopsis: Based on the comic book series written by Robert Kirkman, this gritty drama portrays life in the months and years that follow a zombie apocalypse. A group of survivors travel in search of safety and security, constantly on the move in search of a secure home. But the pressure each day to stay alive sends many in the group to the deepest depths of human cruelty, and they soon discover that the overwhelming fear of the survivors can be more deadly than the zombies walking among them. At times, the interpersonal conflicts present a greater threat to their continuing survival than the walkers that roam the country.
Full Review Coming Soon
The Official CLC Best Episodes Of #TheWalkingDead: TS-19, Days Gone Bye, Too Far Gone, Thank You, First Time Again, Them, The Grove, JSS, No Sanctuary, Strangers, A, Internment, Guts, Infected, 30 Days Without An Accident, Made To Suffer, Pretty Much Dead Already, Walk With Me, Welcome To The Tombs, What Happened And What’s Going On, Hounded, Save The Last One, Wildfire, What Lies Ahead
Season-By-Season Reviews: S1 – 9.6/10 / S2 – 7.6/10 / S3 – 8/10 / S4 – 8.5/10 / S5 – 9.5/10 / S6 – 9/10 /
*Possible Spoilers Ahead*
Season 1 – The Biggest Show On Television, TWD has created a legion of a fanbase more obsessive and unquenchably ravenous than the eponymous ‘walkers’ plaguing the streets of Atlanta. 13 Seasons, 150+ Episodes, Multiple Spinoffs, And Billions Of $ Of Revenue Later, it’s clear to see how The Walking Dead revolutionized the zombie subgenre with a legacy set in stone.. however, going back to the beginning, it’s far from the MCU-like blockbuster dumb spectacle event you’d expect it to be. From the opening flickers of Ep. I ‘Days Gone Bye’, there is a zenith focus on characterization and dark, mature, complex themes far more analytical of the living than its dead; like the classic ’28 Days Later’ that arguably foundationalized the concept a decade before it, TWD focuses more on the terrors of mankind [racism, sexism, war, genocide] and existential crisis of postapocalyptica against unfathomable odds-of-death when we become the hunted instead of the apex species hunter than zombies. Grief, loss, fear, betrayal, and paranoia haunt the crew of pro-and-antagonists as much as the possibility of being eaten alive by dead-eyed drooling freaks – and it’s brought to life by a godly score of unrelentingly aggressive minor key arpeggiation by Bear McCreary and, foremost, crew of magnificence. From the audience surrogate prodigal savior-archetype cowboy career role Rick to imperfect selfish jealousy-riddled fallen-from-grace cop Shane to abuse victim and domestic abuser Ed and Carol to redneck trash not quite what he seems Daryl [and his unspeakably (pointfully) infuriating brother Merle] to sisters-ripped-apart Andrea and Amy to heartbreakingly tragic Morgan, the performances are incredible and unbelievably-advanced for an event series of this pop-culture magnitude – and what endears most about S1 is that it feels 10x more indie and self-focused, like it didn’t quite know [obvious to AMC execs by the short 6 ep. season-length] it would even be renewed for an S2 let alone become an unforgettable part of 2010’s entertainment zeitgeist. The Greek Tragedy is best exemplified in a full-circle between the Morgan’s wife and TS-19 CDC (Bonus points for being focused on Atlanta to us as Emory University graduates [where the Centers For Disease Control is located and I personally studied there as a Zoology/Bio Pre-Med Undergraduate Major] arcs of people even choosing suicide in a blaze of glory > life against the walkers in what (maybe apart from a little more information on the who? what? when? where? and why? of the pandemic, and better theme analysis of the capitalism/consumerism roots of the zombie subgenre when it’s clearly meant to reference George A. Romero’s ‘Dawn Of The Dead’ by the mall setting in the hyperthrilling guerrilla warfare arc on the streets of Atlanta from its opening cliffhanger) a near perfect season of television amongst the most game-changing the world has seen. Fans and critics alike usually point to S1 as what feels ‘like a different show’, from the fact its budget was twice as much per episode to more risks taken out of incompacency (more main characters died in six eps of S1 than other seasons even in combination; arcs like the CDC and Dixons are not from the comics and genius plot decisions for once actually the show > comics) the change in tone synergistically because Frank Darabont the exec prod. x showrunner of S1 was fired going into S2 over creative differences of higher evolution like smarter zombies (retaining old memory flickers, tool-utilization, etc.), governmental corruption, and bold complex social issue exposition not always easy to watch (I.e. Merle’s racism, Ed’s domestic abuse x mysogyny, anti-stereotypification in the Vatos gang, etc.). Tragically, HBO turned down becoming the network for the series, and AMC turned from quality drama x horror-survival sociology analytics < mass audience action-horror, and the results are easy to see in S2. They don’t make ’em like this anymore. 9.6/10.
Season 2 – The Litmus Test For A TV Phenomenon [Or Blockbuster Franchise By Its Movie-Counterpart: Sequels], the follow-up has been absolutely critical going back to the ’80’s zombies first boomed in at your local multiplex megamall. Unfortunately for TWD, their S2.. sucks. Well, it’s not awful – just maddeningly-unfocused, wily, and all-over-the-place.. > than its walkers, wasting the biggest and most important zombie setting of all-time in public consciousness dating back to the film and man that started the entire subgenre and concept [George A. Romero’s ‘Night Of The Living Dead’: the farm. Why the showrunners would purposely write the entire major arc of the season to be a lost rando-girl we have absolutely no reason to care about and whom got her own self into her predicament by inexplicably running away instead of listening to Rick’s clear instructions is beyond me.. and (together with a progressively-boring Carl Got Shot arc) makes for unbelievably snoozefest plotting in stark contrastive juxtaposition to the CDC arc of S1 we could’ve watched an entire television show itself about by its pure fascination. The characterization treads the fine line between horror-action and soap-opera by how little to do besides have conversations retreading previous themes like the practicality of living or ‘opting out’ in a walker world, and quite a few characters are written unlikably [Lori, early-Herschel, Andrea, etc.]: a shame because the performances are every bit as compelling and the characterization (even with fantastic new additions that would become major players in the series going forward like strong, rebellious farmer’s daughter southern belle Maggie and cautious and detached yet god-fearing vet-surgeon Herschel) – especially when it comes to the patriarch of the series. Make no mistake, Jon Bernthal carries the season ~single-handedly on his Atlasian shoulders here – making a case for why he (at least early on) was every bit as much of the poster child for the show as Rick Grimes, while being a more interesting character and thunderous power twinged with wily craziness in every aspect of what’s easily a career performance. The horror aestheticization is epic – [quite literally] darker than S1 from the high school to town square to farm with walkers crawling at night. There are moments of genuine brilliance in the season like the barn shootout and Sophia resolution in Pretty Much Dead Already, plot-twist of pure malevolence in Otis, survival vs. benevolence exposition, western-esque shootout [+ questionable strangers] at the bar in Triggerfinger, and epic action-packed finale also pushing Rick Grimes to the edge (perhaps a fall from grace, and tension by the fascinating plot-twist of universal infection with whatever agent causes the zombie transformation upon death). If only they weren’t so few and far-between. Just like life on a farm, the pace is *drastically* too slow and complacent in a world this exciting and full of possibility, and while 2B > 2A, it’s too little too late. 7.6/10.
Season 3 – From the opening flickers of S3, we get straight into the action – and the showrunners keep us there in what is easily the most action-packed [and casuality-laden] season of TWD. There is more gunsmoke, grudges, greed, and gall than an old-town western or ’80’s action flick – and, in that regard, Season 3 flies spectacularly wherein its predecessor failed… without losing the iconography panache while even creating more its own. The Prison setting is absolute brilliance – a now-legendary zombie setting that has become synonymous with the franchise even down to merchandising, theme park attractions, and arcade games bearing The Walking Dead moniker, and it paves way for characterization and social themes numerous as the count of cellblocks and prison inmates-turned-walkers. From the janky aggression of Tenoch Huerta’s squad leader to A+ new characters in Michonne, Tyreese & Co. to powerful arcs/performances led by an Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes (deserves a damn Emmy for how spectacularly he paints the devolution of the perfect messianic cowboy to a flawed griwf-stricken shell of a man wallowing in the depths of pain and struggling to rekindle the lost flames of his humanity) Emmy-worthy the epic returns of S1 legacy characters from the very beginning to give them entirely new arcs and acting showcases like Morgan and Merle [even – impossibly – redemption in the latter case by powerful screenwriting often delivering a death-blow gut-punch for maximum catharsis and emotionalism by evocation of first words we got introduced to them with on their death bed], the people arguably take 10x more frontal status than the walkers in S3: a good thing in all of the aforementioned cases, yet a mixed case in a major new setting for the series – Woodbury. What begins as a genius idea in a secret Romanesque small-town america suburb guarded by tall walls to restart a civilization of resemblance to life before the apocalypse led by a fascinating front man in The Governor drags more than the feet of the walkers over continental numbers of miles over an imbecilic 16-episode length that loses any ounce of steam or interest by the time its put out of its misery; AMC follows The CW in wriging out pop culture viral sensation TV Series for no operable reason with such long ep orders when the 10-12 standard is absolutely enough time while trimming the fat and keeping filler [some egregious snail-paced ones throughout like an hour-long conversation between Rick and Phillip to no purpose because it changes nothing about the plan; worst episode of TWD?] to a minimum. Overall, S3’s power of ideas is more than enough to justify it as one of the better seasons of TWD – even if the execution is mixed, blamable ~entirely by network politics. 8/10.
Season 4 – Well, color us shocked. We [wholeheartedly] believed TWD made a dire mistake continuing the prison aesthetic into S4 – and were immediately cautious at the preponderance of new faces in the opening scene alone in what looked to be a repetition of the sins of S3: crowding the canvas with too many cooks in the kitchen, detracting and distracting from the original crew experience we first came to see: Rick Grimes & Co. Bizarrely, though, by sheer magnitude of screenwriting panache… S4 has one of the strongest beginnings of any season of The Walking Dead – faking us out with all those new faces being [synergized] pig-cannon for the slaughter of nightmares in a big splashy S1 cliffhanger only doubling down and reproving to the world the genius and icon status of the prison background setting all over again (even if they perplexingly don’t even elucidate the what/why of the disease), juxtaposed with a contagion/quarantine angle to dial up the horror x adrenaline and yet again spiral our heroes into tragedy, climaxing in what’s understandably the fandom’s favorite and highest-rated episode of all-time: Too Far Gone [~perfect of TV balancing fan-service, action, spectacle, complex drama, and characterization: the singular episode we certainly attribute to TWD’s climb to becoming the #1 Most Watched Show On Television]. After the über-cathartic end to the governor’s stake-filled reign of terror and requisite fracturing of the crew into smaller subfractions on their own, the season does slow down… dramatically and too much so, to the point of becoming exhausting and making us question just how long this concept has the legs to go on for in what seems like a holding pattern cycle of zombies -> try to rebuild a civilized home -> zombies -> out on road -> zombies. Even heartbreakingly tragic and masterfully-written (character-focused) episodes like The Grove [basically Of Mice & Men or if Steinbeck wrote a zombie play, analyzing themes of despair, redemption, and post-apocalyptic childhood brought to life by a layered performance or insanity x innocence by Brighton Rose & iconic TV line in ‘Just Look At The Flowers’] are siphoned of power/experience by the lull of the road, as the show wanders as clumsily and aimlessly as its walkers. Now, the writers do wrap S4 up with a nice bow enough to justify further exploration of the worldbuild even after we began to question it by the introduction of intriguing new characters like Abraham, Rosita, and Scientist Eugene [whom wildly claims to know what caused and how to fix the zombie apocalypse and is one of the most perfect performances of the series: absolutely nailing ‘awkward’ even down to the way he walks and talks] and Terminus finale bait-switch – Woodbury x10 with even darker fakeouts by luring with promises of heaven but an inexplicable caged reality full of burning questions and mystery demanding explanation and further elaboration. 8.5/10.
Season 5 – ‘What. The. F*ck?!’ Our quotable reaction to the opening episode of S5, we acknowledged the possi/probability of a dark reality for Rick & Co. following the cliffhanger of the previous year – but vastly underestimated what lay in store at Terminus. A Nightmare Of Texas Chainsaw Massacre Magnitude, we see a swine-dehumanizing slaughterhouse jugular severance ritual and cowhide limb-sawed meat locker frigerator amongst the most grizzly and sadistically f*cked up we’ve ever seen on the small-screen [even wilder by the realization this is for public network television and the biggest TV show in the world] – made even impossibly more fascinating by the prologue flipping of dynamics with the Terminus crew being the frightened ones locked in the cargo container hearing the screams of their citizens after inviting people and “trying to do good” to becoming the most evil and perverse reality imaginable: a hell masquerading as heaven and even going out of their way to lure innocent outsiders weary of road exhaustion to a death 10x more violent and gruesome than even zombies eaten alive. Back to S1 roots, TWD returns to the horrors of mankind – and breathtakingly punches it up with über-fascination and ghastly backstory of what happens to the good in this world: either the butcher or the cattle. And it only gets crazier from there. The batsh*t crazy dystopia of Terminus [carried on for multiple eps with even more psychotic iconography: eating a man’s leg roasted like a suckling pig over fire alive while he watches] becomes even weirder and darker in the context of the Wolves – magnificently introduced by secretive letters and symbols piquing our interest while foreshadowing a dark horizon for S6. Though S5 is a guignol carnival of physical horror references/amalgamations [home-invasion, zombies, cannibalism, violence, etc.], perhaps its greatest achievement and scariest part is the mankind exposition; it features an in-depth analysis of civilization and humanity the likes of which has rarely ever been achieved by one series (and sure as hell not one of such public cognizance with no right being this IQ-heavy for its popularity). From its hospital subarc of fragile miniaturized civilization to a normal-sized one in Alexandria, the crux theme and discourse of S5 is us: can we survive natural selective pressures like a dystopian apocalypse and still retain everything we once were and gained from centuries of evolution, or are we doomed to reversion on primal urges and morality/ethics-less sin when the world pushes us back into the survival mode our ancestors faced for eons before we got to nice, cushy suburban neighborhoods with Uber, Netflix, and DoorDash? This religion angle is everpresently weaved by a fantastically-executed character in Gabriel: a Judas’ Priest all TWD’s own whose breathtaking hypocrisy is [purposefully] ironic and analytical of the many problems of evangelical world: claiming piety and holier-than-thou superiority over Rick and co. who saved him and brought him to the promised land, yet betrays them and refuses to acknowledge/repent for his own sins of killing his entire church group against the love/help thy neighbor instructions of the book he claims to admire. Brilliant. Alexandria is a masterpiece setting of pure genius; it allows us to contrastively juxtapose our pre and post-apocalyptic selves [literally] next door to each other in the same community out of time and circumstances to have requisite conversations about what it means to be human and survive in an everchanging world – the obvious slow-bleed and intellectualization > gore (as well as classic human television entertainment angles like will-they-or-wont-they romance, internal factions, friends vs. enemies development, etc. we’d previously been missing but are opened up yet again by the setting to feel like a brand new, ‘normal’ show at the flip of a switch) comes as a baptismal tsunami of fresh energy and creative rebirth after so many years and episodes on the road, impossibly breathing new life into a previously-believed thin plot series that could (and would) go 10+ seasons just by the strength of its writing and characterization. It also honors and preserves the legacy of S1 (down to even bringing back a vintage Morgan into the group by an epic postcredits Ep. 1 scene) by putting a magnifying glass back on the evils we can find lurking in man’s civilization today (child/domestic abuse, rape, betrayal, murder, war, trafficking, kidnapping, drug use, theft, etc.), no zombies or fantasy-apocalyptica needed – while also showing the human-flawedness of our communities, like our desperate clinging to leaders and authority figures even when they objectively-screw up like Rick did, going full-circle S2 Shane waving the gun to get the girl while critiquing the pacifism we’re lulled into thinking we’re entitled to but won’t save us when [zombie brains] hit the fan. S5 is the most gut-wrenching season of TWD – as well as the most bodybag-filled; sure, S1 has more deaths technically, but this time, each one hits hard and matters by our half-decade episodic connection to whom these [magnificently-acted] characters are.. and the writers’ room sends to the slaughterhouse with such perverse wickendess, we’re faked out on a funeral scene of Beth’s death from the episode before when it’s really a fast-forward foreshadowed death of Tyreese the very next episode. JFC. Yet, even despite this, it keeps us everpresently guessing by magnitudinal unpredictability and pushing the boundaries – making us believe and want people to die [Gabriel, Nicholas – oh boy, one of our most hated characters in TV *history*,:a new governor 10x worse, of course by the skill of the actor and writers’ room to evoke that reaction and invest you in them] yet depriving us of expected kills even in season finales to keep us on the edge of our seats and toes. We never believed The Walking Dead [or any dystopian horror/drama TV, for that matter] would reach and match the heights of S1 again, but S5 is flying at eye-level; though we’d still take Season 1 as the best overall-season, it’s only by the thinnest of possible hairline margins in what is absolutely a genius masterstroke of television and one of the best imagined, written, acted, and executed seasons of big-time TV. Ever. 9.5/10.
Season 6 – just when thought no one can keep up one-up with biggest szn opener ever thousads of zombies one set piece begin most thrilling way tell multi-fracture story flashbacks epic plan , hply sht a season finale right after opener jss wolves epic scale home invasion alexandria right then wtf holy sht, wolves fascinating think freeing you need to know people don’t belong here anymore play into zombies, extreme comic accuracy in wolves heath casting straight out of comic panels rick bandages even exact placement, holy sht fakeout of century thought glenn death strategic placement wouldve been perfect goodbye even dumbass quote to first ep and died trying to save someone wouldve been perfect also pocket watch herschel damn writers evil for teasing even end rick trapped car vs tank surrounded by zombies radio static no answer glenn not there to save this time thank you rick for saving rick face scared shtless out of luck unlike him pushed to end strongest 3 ep beginning of any season sure a bs copout but ep also shows the scariness of zombie apoc just trying to outrun mass herd impossible nihilism hopelessness, even though weird position here’s not here ep increedible two people difference aikido non-killing even when look at what done evil against trespassers beautiful intimate scale refreshing after big scale shows can be both and even end wolves code opposite of aikido kill everything vs nothing makes them scarier, like how core focus becomes survival resources trading between comunities humanity evil side shines again take advantage emotions power hunger drives behavior back to primal hunt for resources and how early civilizations reacted ruthlessness brutality was rewarded