I have been a viewer of AMC-TV’s The Walking Dead since its inception. I’ve appreciated the twists on the zombie trope, and especially the deep character development of leading and subordinate players. Now in its fifth season, however, I think the show is getting a little tired. That’s not before it has had some refreshing developments in its current season—the cannibals were macabre and developed with some dark humor.
Nor is the show without its theological, or anti-theological, turns. The zombies, as within the genre as a whole, are essentially a parody of the resurrection of the body. Of course, zombies don’t possess transformed bodies (and they seem soul-less, essentially without any spiritual component). Their bodies aren’t eternal: they eventually rot away, a progression that Walking Dead has tried to portray with ever more gross makeup and puppetry. All this is a subtext, but the show now and then drifts into explicitly theological (or, again, anti-theological) comment. That occurred this season in the episode “Four Walls and a Roof.” Our protagonists lured the cannibals into an old church, and there hyper-violently beat and crushed them to death. The priest of the church protested the carnage inside the building, saying, “But this is God’s holy house.” Maggie flatly answered, “No, it’s just four walls and a roof.”
But here’s why I say the show is getting tired: Now the heroes are simply stuck in a godless world, wandering from one place to the next, killing some zombies, wandering to another place, killing some zombies, and so on ad nauseum. We had a chance to break out of this cycle with the character Eugene, purportedly a scientist close to arriving at a cure for the zombie disease. He claimed that he needed to travel to Washington, D.C. to meet up with other scientists and there arrive at a cure. But two episodes ago we learned that Eugene was an impostor. He was no scientist, he admitted, and simply a coward under prestigious cover that might bring him some advantages.
It would have opened up a new direction for the development of the story if Eugene was for real—there would have been new possibilities as the heroes had a fresh mission or objective. But with Eugene as a fake, we are back to the same old wandering, killing some zombies, then wandering some more, killing some more zombies, rinse and repeat. The series is without an overall arc. It’s walking (dead) in circles. Best to end it soon, before it becomes altogether too tiring. But don’t bet on that happening. Zombies don’t die easily.