The Walking Dead has become the subject of major scrutiny in its seventh season. After a controversial cliffhanger to end Season 6, the AMC series felt more pressure than ever to deliver a satisfying resolution to Negan's introduction but also follow up in the following weeks with well paced and executed episodes.
So far, many fans don't appear to be very pleased.
The Walking Dead has run into the lowest ratings since the show's third season. Sure, it's still the highest rate show on television but fans are jumping ship at alarming rate.
Part of the problem is the storytelling format. The Walking Dead has spent the five weeks following Negan's introduction building towards what promises to be an explosive war and (hopefully) midseason finale. However, in doing so, the show often takes a singular focus on one group or character at a time, often keeping beloved characters off of the screen for several weeks at a time despite their storylines being far more engaging and interesting.
Truth be told, the story of The Walking Dead has come a long way since Season 7 began. Six episodes in and the state of our characters has changed drastically -- but it's easy to feel otherwise as bottled episodes leave us hungry to see Rick, Maggie, Carol, or others on a weekly basis.
If The Walking Dead had taken a more balanced approach to the first half of Season 7, the show would be more compelling than ever, while telling the exact same story. With three new communities, a handful of new faces, and political drama paired with intense warfare ahead, the show missed a huge opportunity to keep the hype alive.
It isn't the content of Season 7 which has most fans frustrated but rather its delivery.
On the next slides, we take an episode by episode look at what could have made The Walking Dead Season 7 (so far) more compelling.
The Season 7 premiere was exactly what it needed to be.
For 6 months, fans clamored for every bit of information regarding Negan and his victims. The Season 7 premiere delivered the painfu, brutal, violent message it meant to and set the stage for Season 7 brilliantly. The show, 7 years in, was flipped on its head with Rick Grimes no longer in control and his family being oppressed by a villain they truly cannot handle.
In fact, the mixed timeline story telling style of Episode 7x01 built suspense to a peak in masterful fashion. The episode kept audiences engaged out of curiosity and then heartbreak in tremendous fashion, with only a glimmer of hope shown by Maggie to end the episode and launch the season.
As Episode 7x02 went, Carol and Morgan marched to and explored the Kingdom, revealing all of its secrets. This has been the most enjoyable episode of the season, so far. It should not have been spent all at once.
Episode 7x02 should have started with the immediate aftermath of Negan's kill for a brief moment. The heavy scene would have remained prior to taking us to Carol and Morgan for the first time this season. As they marched alongside the soldiers in combat gear to a location the audience was unfamiliar with the episode should have switched to Daryl's arrival at the Sanctuary.
With Morgan and Carol being revisited and Daryl's location being revealed, we would have been safe to jump over to Tara and Heath on their supply run -- which had mirrors of Glenn and Denise, both of whom had died very recently at this point.
To cap the episode, Carol recovers and is escorted to King Ezekiel, who ends the hour by saying, "I am King Ezekiel," accompanied by Shiva's roar.
Now, we know all of the key characters' statuses, except for the Hilltop.
Week 3 continues the breaking down of Daryl Dixon and, in fact, concludes it. Daryl's storyline takes up much of 7x03 but is not the only story told.
Instead, we have the heavy and intense torture scenes of Daryl accompanied by Carol's continued exploration of the Kingdom. At the same time Daryl is broken down and Dwight hunts down an escaped Savior, Morgan hunts pigs with Ezekiel while Carol plots her escape.
Meanwhile, Tara and Heaths supply run has gone south and Tara is captured by the Oceanside community.
To end the episode, Maggie and Sasha arrive at the Hilltop to an unwelcoming Gregory.
Just as he did in Episode 7x04, Negan marches into Alexandria, Daryl Dixon in tow, just after Michonne sneaks out. We don't see her again this week.
We hold off on Carol and Ezekiel's story for a little while as Negan's sarcastic and dominant exploration of the Safe-Zone claims most of the episode, though the entirety of the real Episode 7x04 does not play out here.
Tara's situation at the Oceanside community. She becomes a part of their community, or so it seems, concluding the scene with her line, "I have a girlfriend to get back to," in reference to Denise.
Then, we're instantly reminded of Denise's death as we see Rosita and Spencer on their run to the tracks where Denise died, hording guns along the way.
At the same time, Olivia is being held hostage because of the misplaced guns in Alexandria.
Things go south at Oceanside as Tara is chased from the community.
Back at the Kingdom for the night, Carol is caught trying to escape. Ezekiel opens up and shows his true colors, making him a fan-favorite character and stretching his story across three weeks, rather than throwing it all at the audience in Week 2 only to keep him off-screen for the next (at least) four weeks.
Michonne is training with a rifle.
Rick and the group desperately search for missing guns in an effort to save Olivia's life. He explains to the group that he is no longer in charge.
The first half of the episode is built on the suspense of what will happen to Olivia should the guns not be found. As he did in Episode 4, Rick finds the guns in Spencer's house.
Michonne's return prompts a disagreement between herself and Rick as she is forced to hand over both her rifle and deer to Negan and the Saviors.
Rosita and Spencer return to Alexandria, hiding the gun they found.
The Saviors roll out and Rick is left humiliated with a defiant Spencer and frustrated girlfriend.
Jump to Tara, who is still trying to escape Oceanside on the bridge and thinks she found Heath. Instead, she has found a zombie which resembled him from behind, some tire tracks, and a keycard which reads, "PPP."
The episode concludes with Rick's speech to Michonne about Shane and Lori.
Carl and Michonne are not happy with Rick's leadership. Rick and Michonne head out on a scavenging mission -- hopefully to accidentally discover the Kingdom.
Maggie and Sasha are dealing with the deaths of Glenn and Abraham and Gregory wants to kick them out. Jesus isn't having it.
Enid and Carl slip outside of the Alexandria walls and head for the Hilltop just as Simon and his batch of Saviors terrorize Gregory.
The Saviors pack up and head out of the Hilltop, with Jesus on a mission to find where the Sanctuary is by hopping in the back of one of their trucks to find Carl doing the same.
Enid, however, heads into the Hilltop to start building a family with Maggie and Sasha.
Tara finally returns to Alexandria to meet Eugene, who informs her of Denise, Glenn, and Abraham's deaths. When Rosita asks her about the community the audience has been following her through for weeks now, she lies about their armory.
With this form of story telling, the status quo of character from The Walking Dead is in the same place as it is today but the story telling has been more engaging and less frustrating for impatient fans.
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