When io9 co-founders Annalee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders employed me as a Senior Editor back in 2012, I by no means anticipated to nonetheless be on the website a decade later. I definitely by no means anticipated to recap The Walking Dead the total time, and now that the present is over, I don’t know the way to really feel about it. However I’m fairly positive it’s not good.
And once I say a decade, I imply 10 years virtually precisely. Annalee and CJ made it very clear that one among my duties upon being employed can be taking over recaps of the then-incredibly common zombie collection. So on my very first day at io9, November 19, 2012, I wrote in regards to the earlier night time’s installment, “Hounded,” the sixth episode of season three and the twenty fifth episode of The Strolling Useless general. Should you keep in mind it, and I do know you don’t, you may learn my ancient recap here or take my phrase it’s the one the place ghosts preserve calling an more and more unstable Rick on the cellphone. It was a reasonably good episode!
Sunday night time, November 20, at some point after my tenth io9 anniversary, the ultimate episode of The Strolling Useless aired, titled “Rest in Peace.” AMC didn’t ship out a screener till Monday, however I obtained sick so I wrote it Tuesday. The present ended on 177, which suggests 153 Strolling Useless episodes have aired since I began right here and I’ve written about virtually all of them, minus a couple of Germain Lussier needed to cowl once I was sick or on trip. I really feel assured I’ve recapped 148 of them over the course of a decade and three days.
Should you’ve caught with io9’s Strolling Useless recaps by way of my tenure, you already know I’m obnoxiously verbose. I’ve utter confidence that the overwhelming majority of those recaps clocked in at the least 1,000 phrases, and plenty of of them hit 1,500. At an estimated 1200 phrases per recap general, I’d say I’ve written over 177,000 phrases about particular person episodes of The Strolling Useless. That’s not counting TWD information articles or trailer write-ups, which I’ve additionally completed the overwhelming majority of, as a result of I’m io9’s Strolling Useless man.
This staggers me. I’m 45 years previous, which suggests I’ve spent 2/9ths of my life on this Earth not simply watching however professionally writing about The Strolling Useless, a present that has often been great however far more typically been terrible. I imply, terrible. That is a unprecedented period of time watching a present I steadily disliked.
I imply, once I started recapping the collection, it was getting into its heyday. The Strolling Useless was by no means extra constantly good than the second half of season three by way of season 5, together with the collection’ excessive level, “Clear,” and the heartbreaking “The Grove.” Even the season 5 finale, “Conquer,” the place Rick (Andrew Lincoln) appeared to have misplaced his thoughts and uttered the well-known/notorious line “I’m questioning, what number of of you do I gotta kill to avoid wasting your lives?” was glorious, exhibiting the protagonist as a person who had been pushed too far by a brutal world and had misplaced his approach. The Strolling Useless gave the impression to be Rick utilizing to ask if survival is extra vital than humanity, an enchanting query that the present was uniquely positioned to discover.
After which… it didn’t. In season six, it turned out Rick’s brutality was apparently the right reply. Effectively, let me make clear—Rick’s approach wasn’t essentially the suitable option to go, as a result of there have been normally penalties for his violent actions, it’s simply that maddeningly, nobody on the present ever talked about this or confronted him about his actions. The present gave tacit approval to issues like Rick’s pre-emptive assault in opposition to the Saviors’ outpost, regardless that it made Negan and the Saviors conscious there was a brand new colony ripe for the selecting, which led to repercussions not only for the protagonists, however the present itself.
It was March 2015—greater than seven lengthy years in the past—when The Strolling Useless, in an astounding act of hubris, decided to end season six with a cliffhanger after promising for months that the finale would function essentially the most stunning, brutal second of your entire collection. Like his introduction within the comics, the villain Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) ought to have instantly murdered somebody upon his arrival—besides as a substitute of exhibiting which character died, the episode ended with a point-of-view shot from the sufferer of Negan’s bat.
It was infuriating then, however it additionally gave the present’s then 14 million viewers (nonetheless an astonishing quantity) greater than six months to invest who died, thereby making certain regardless of the end result, it will be anticipated to some extent.
Greater than 17 million individuals watched the season seven premiere to find who the sufferer can be, solely to find it was Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), a second-tier character who wouldn’t be missed a lot. Nonetheless, followers gave a collective sigh of aid that Glenn (Steven Yeun), the beloved character who Negan killed within the comics and was the center of the soul of the present, had been spared. After which Rick shot his mouth off and Negan beat Glenn to demise as nicely. It might have been stunning, however it was additionally infuriating—and greater than something, none of it value ready half a 12 months for.
Since then, The Strolling Useless has hemorrhaged viewers (to the purpose that lower than 1.5 million individuals watched the present’s penultimate episode). Positive, it didn’t assist that star Andrew Lincoln left the collection early in season nine, however it additionally didn’t assist that the “struggle” with Negan and his Saviors was drawn out to a few excruciating seasons. I spent so most of the center years of The Strolling Useless livid on the lack of character growth, livid at how padded out the episodes had been, and the way there was virtually nobody to root for as a result of the protagonists saved murdering individuals in chilly blood. Then, my companion Loree advised me one thing that has caught with me ever since: “It should be as exhausting for individuals to learn your offended recaps as it’s exhausting so that you can write them.”
She was completely appropriate, and I modified my outlook instantly. I attempted to search out the positives in every episode. I attempted to merely level out issues as a substitute of ranting about them. Principally, although, I simply tried to not care about what the present did or didn’t do. That sounds harsh, however what I actually imply is that I attempted to not let the present have an effect on me or my temper, and to fulfill it by itself phrases. The Strolling Useless was gonna Strolling Useless it doesn’t matter what I wrote, I figured, so why ought to I get labored up over the seemingly everlasting actuality that the present wasn’t nearly as good because it was once? Hilariously and predictably, I’ve had commenters mad at me for each being too good and nonetheless too imply to TWD, however I’ve additionally slept so much higher on Sunday nights.
However I’ll sleep even higher this coming Sunday night time, understanding that I’ll by no means should recap an episode of The Strolling Useless once more… nicely, at the least till the Rick and Michonne miniseries comes out, if it ever does. (I’ve already advised my io9 compatriots that I gained’t be recapping the Dead City or Daryl Dixon spin-offs, it doesn’t matter what they pay me or threaten me with.) Having spent 10 lengthy years watching this damned present, I really feel chained to it sufficient that I want to search out out what occurred to Rick after he was airlifted by helicopter with Jadis (Polly Walker), the chief of the late Garbage Dump Performance Art Troupe.
Trying again at a full decade of recapping The Strolling Useless, I can’t assist however really feel oh my god how did a spend a decade of my life watching this present that general I don’t assume I loved. The truth that it overlaps virtually precisely with my tenure at io9 complicates issues immensely for me, since general I’ve loved my time right here, minus a real-life supervillain or two. The 2 experiences are inextricably linked for me, and shall be for some time, I believe. However proper now, I’ve no capability to actually perceive what I’ve completed or has been completed to me. I’m insensate. Numb. Listless. Lifeless. After 10 lengthy years, I’m the strolling lifeless. But when nothing else, The Strolling Useless has given me one piece of recommendation to assist information me by way of this troublesome transition in my life, all the way in which again within the very first episode that aired on October 31, 2010:
Don’t lifeless. Open inside.
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