IT’S SAFE TO say that The Walking Dead has been in some rocky territory recently. Seasons four and five dragged by with little interest, the show seemingly reaching its inevitable cancellation. Sure, it picked up at the end of Season five, but it wouldn’t last… would it? Well, I was wrong. There, I said it. Season six of The Walking Dead is the best the series has been since The Governor, and in this spoiler free review, I’ll tell you why.
The most common problem with past series of The Walking Dead is quite simply nothing happened. If there was a plot, it was stretched out to unbelievable lengths, so much so that barely anything was covered in an episode, or was discarded after a short run. At the end of season five a new community was found, one that could actually grow, and season six runs with this, instead of casting the idea way in the first episode (#Terminus anyone?). Instead of focussing on the group simply surviving, the show, introduces some storylines that expand The Walking Dead universe.
The first half of the season focuses on establishing Alexandria, using a central threat to introduce new characters, build up problems, and through that introduce some real intrigue into the story. The second half finally makes The Walking Dead grow; for too long we’ve been focussed in on a story going nowhere. Now we get the bigger picture of this world, a new world, if you will. We’ve had this premise come up several times in the past, but it’s nearly always ended in complete bloodshed. Not only does season six establish a more long term idea, it also brings some form of politics (more than just the Rick-tatorship) into the mix, without getting boring or monotonous. And it is good! It’s exciting, scary and makes the series feel like its actually progressing.
While the story feels like its taking risks, character wise it’s still not hit Game of Thrones levels when it comes to deaths. New characters are introduced, and still feel like they are the more vulnerable ones. More established characters don’t run the risk of being picked off as easily. While this is sort of a good thing (I’ve become very attached to certain members) the show would really shake things up a bit my axing at least one or two big names. But while the big names remain, so does the character development; Gabriel and Eugene actually take leaps and bounds when it comes to likeability. Morgan and Rick’s choices contrast excellently with each other, almost leading to two completely different ideologies. Tara, Maggie, Abraham and Carl all grow and change throughout the series, as they adapt to new roles in the new world.
As the show has developed, we’ve seen the ‘walking dead’ themselves fade into the scenery as opposed to be the standout features of the show. But that’s good, and especially at a time like this, where The Walking Dead is going down a new direction. The premise feels much more like grounds for an idea, than continuing to take over the show like it feebly did in some of the later series. Basically, The Walking Dead has grown up, and it’s bloody great.
When watching the fifth series, I began to question how much life the show really had left in it, but season six sets up The Walking Dead nicely for at least another series. The premise is strong enough for now to hold up, but, as we’ve seen in the past, it could quite easily fall into a swamp of monotony. If they keep expanding this world which our characters live in, the show could happily spiral into an enjoyable and timely conclusion. But for now, season six is definitely the best The Walking Dead has been in a long while, and my God is it a relief.
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