The Walking Dead – Season 8

Andrew Lincoln in 2012
Andrew Lincoln in 2012

Warning. This review contains several spoilers about the eighth season of the TV show “The Walking Dead”!

On april 15 the eighth season of the show “The Walking Dead” ended.

The eighth season was produced and broadcast with the format has become usual: 16 episodes of which 8 were broadcast between October and December 2017 and the other 8 between February and April 2018. The ratings drop seen in the seventh season has definitely increased, so much so that, if we don’t consider DVRs, compared to the sixth season’s records the ratings have practically halved.

Last year that drop could be a sign that many people were getting tired of the show. This year it’s a clear sign that something really isn’t working anymore. Is that the quality drop? Is that the disappointment for the development of the last story-arcs with respect to their premises? Is that combination of both?

The seventh season of “The Walking Dead” ended with a clash of the Alexandria, Hilltop and the Kingdom’s alliance with Negan’s Saviors. As it was clear right away, it was only the beginning of a story-arc that filled the whole eighth season in which the war between the two factions was developed.

“The Walking Dead” eighth season cast consists of:

  • Andrew Lincoln (photo ©Angela George) as Rick Grimes
  • Danai Gurira as Michonne
  • Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon
  • Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes
  • Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier
  • Lauren Cohan (photo ©Gage Skidmore) as Maggie Greene
  • Alanna Masterson as Tara Chambler
  • Josh McDermitt as Eugene Porter
  • Christian Serratos as Rosita Espinosa
  • Seth Gilliam as Gabriel Stokes
  • Lennie James as Morgan Jones
  • Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan

The first part of the eighth season is perhaps the most mess of a TV product I’ve ever seen. They hugely stretched the story with visions, interludes, speeches, bickering and so on. A plot that could be ended in an episode was developed on several episodes and moreover with a style of directing and editing I found annoying.

To fill episodes that didn’t need extra minutes they also included pseudo-artistic moments with visions that became clear only in the second part of the season but that in my opinion added nothing. However, I saw the main problem in the management of the attack against the Saviors and in particular the siege of the Sanctuary, their headquarters.

My impression is that the show’s production crew knew very well that the material to be developed was limited and the plot devoid of real consistency so the only solution was to resort to some visual tricks. thus long minutes when there are people shooting around split into many fragments with continuous changes of perspective that make the scenes seem more dynamic.

This choice makes it possible to alternate those fragments with scenes about other characters in other places including King Ezekiel’s group walksing in the woods before offering themselves as an easy target for their enemies. In the end, the most interesting moment for me is the passage of a helicopter with all the questions that come with it.

In the middle there are also scenes concerning the Scavengers led by Jadis but they seem to me fillers only. All that subplot seems functional to certain developments of the war between Rick and Negan. The inevitable pseudo-introspective episode in which they tried to give Jadis a bit of depth seemed to me useless too.

Even Morgan’s personal story now seems to me functional to certain developments of the events. His passing from a pacifist to a bloodthirsty fury with hallucinations after having endured the pseudo-introspection about his alleged achievement of an inner balance is honestly a pain in the butt.

The first half of the eighth season culminates with the revelation that Carl Grimes was bitten by a walker and is about to die, an event that begins the second half of the season with a momentary increase in ratings. Personally the death of a character of “The Walking Dead” leaves me indifferent so I thought it was another filler.

In the second half of the season the writers tried to add some substance to the plot, in particular with Dwight and Simon’s actions. The strategy of using the walkers’ blood to infect their enemies shows that there’s no kind of quarantine for the wounded despite the risk of someone dying, turning and killing people.

In a season in which they tried to add twists and turns to keep the audience’ attention, for example with Eugene’s story and the besieged in the Sanctuary who suddenly overturn the situation and go to besiege Alexandria, the final is also made of twists. Personally, I didn’t find them very interesting, also because they seemed quite obvious.

Lauren Cohan in 2013
Lauren Cohan in 2013

The season ends with Rick trying to give his group a new start but not everyone agrees. Will there be a kind of civil war? I don’t read the comics so I don’t know the next plots but in the TV adaptation the writers will better to create something well crafted because the biggest bloodbath in the show was in its ratings.

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