The Walking Dead may be about to enter its ninth season but the show has fallen pretty far from its glory days. With plummeting ratings and an ever-increasing turnover of its original cast members, the show has been in free fall for a little while now. The eighth season of the long-running zombie drama highlights the balance between love and frustration that fans feel towards the show. The central story is the battle against Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) who was introduced during season 7 and the season attempts to bring the core characters back together.
Picking up where season 7 left off, Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Ezekiel (Khary Payton) bring their respective communities together in a bid to finally defeat the wise-cracking Negan. If you’re expecting a satisfactory conclusion then you’ll be sorely disappointed. I don’t want to spoil what the outcome of the battle is but what I will say is that it takes the entire 16 episodes to reach a conclusion, and that left me more exasperated than it did satisfied.
In a bid to shake things up, The Walking Dead did a bit of a thinning of the cast during season 8. Unfortunately the decision to kill off a central character at the midseason point caused more outrage with fans and the subsequent announcement that Andrew Lincoln is leaving during season 9, and in all likelihood so is Lauren Cohan, means that there will be hardly any original characters left before long.
Season 8 is further proof that The Walking Dead has a tendency to drag out plotlines and allow characters to overstay their welcome. The omnipresence of Negan for a second season is annoying, and that’s no slight on Jeffrey Dean Morgan who is excellent in the role. It’s more that the character hovers around wielding all the power but logically it wouldn’t take that much to overthrow him. The season follows the well-trodden formula the show has established where an action-packed episode pops up once in a while but the rest feel like filler.
Something that’s always been a problem with The Walking Dead is the separation of characters meaning that weeks can go by without seeing your favourite. There’s far too much of Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) and the Scavengers, and not enough of our original core favourites. The more promising of the supporting characters such as Jesus (Tom Payne) and Aaron (Ross Marquand) get barely anything to do and the show continues its bad habit of killing off minor characters that you’ve likely not even noticed while expecting you to care.
The special features on the release include a handful of extended episodes, three episode commentaries and several featurettes taking you behind-the-scenes and looking at key moments from the season.
The Walking Dead continues to be a very frustrating show to watch. After 8 seasons I can’t help but tune in but I also feel at this point the show should consider winding down. It’s become far too bloated, at times very dull and never as thrilling as it was during its early seasons. With the departures of Lincoln and Cohan on the horizon, it might be time to bid adieu to the show and switch fans on to Fear the Walking Dead, which has undergone a critically-applauded and much-needed overhaul.
Cast: Andrew Lincoln. Norman Reedus, Melissa McBride, Chandler Riggs, Lauren Cohan, Tom Payne, Lennie James, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Danai Gurira, Alanna Masterson, Josh McDermitt, Christian Serratos, Khary Payton, Seth Gilliam, Ross Marquand, Austin Amelio, Pollyanna McIntosh Certificate: 18 Duration: 747 mins Released by: Entertainment One Release date: 24th September 2018