I don’t know where to begin. But certainly here be spoilers, so if you don’t want to be spoiled, just stop now.
Last night was just disturbing at several levels.
We knew it was coming. We knew at least one, and probably two, characters were going to die, and at least one of them would have been a long timer. That doesn’t make it any easier in many cases. But I don’t think anyone expected it to happen the way it did.
The first part was that people were expecting to get resolution pretty quick. OK, I figured they would replay the whole scene, and probably might even wait until after the first break, but the drug it out 20 minutes, which was a long time to lead people on, before we found out who victim #1 was. And I was OK with the choice to a point – I think Abraham was charismatic in a way and I liked him, but I also saw him as someone who would take this to protect the rest. But with the graphic brutality with which it was shown made it very difficult to process.
I know people were rooting for Glenn to be the target. Some felt cheated by his non-death previously. So there was probably some disappointment initially when it was Abraham. But I can’t say that there was satisfaction among the crowd when Negan later beat Glenn’s skull in. Again, the extremely graphic brutality, which not only his friends and Maggie witnessed but WE witnessed, as his gurgling voice tries to talk to Maggie, most have left even the most stalwart Glenn haters questioning it. And the sickening sounds as Negan continued beating on his skull after it was already caved in…
Sure, this is all based on what happens in the comics. But this isn’t a comic book, this is a TV show, on a basic cable network no less – I don’t recall slasher movies quite that bad. You can be tired with a character but you’ve been with them for years and there is a certain amount of emotional investment, that even when expected to have it happen that way is just too much to take.
Yes, this show has always been graphic. But it was a different type of graphic. Most of the violence was of a different nature – much of it perpetrated on zombies – easily distinguished from “real” people and therefore there is a detachment. Graphic violence with human targets was typically caused by those same zombies. Sure there were still shockers…Dale’s death was particularly graphic…but zombies. For some reason that seems to make a difference. This time around, it seems way over the top for even this show.
Now, I liked Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s portrayal of Negan. A brutal, psychotic master manipulator that manages to break Rick with something I can only describe as the ultimate mindfracking which reduced him to a quivering slave in the fastest case of Stockholm Syndrome ever. I’ve heard some complaints about his monologing, but I think it was entirely appropriate.
It’s interesting that the zombies are largely irrelevant now. The are rats – nothing more than a nuisance.
I’m very interested in seeing the ratings for last night, and compare it in one to two weeks. Judging from the reactions I’ve seen, I think that it may have lost as much as 20% of its audience last night.