You might call me a slow coach but I am not that. I am a little eccentric, that’s all. While people were raving about FRIENDS 10 years back, I despised the idea of watching a show that goes on for 10 seasons. Consequently, I didn’t watch it. I am grateful- not because I didn’t watch it but because I decided to watch it now during the lockdown and believe you me, I wouldn’t have liked that show as much as I like it now! Now that FRIENDS is over, I am currently watching The Walking Dead and trust me, it is worth all the time that you have these days. I don’t think I would have associated with the show like how I associate with it now owing to the current circumstances. Hence, here is a review of this amazing show that, very subtly, had predicted our future ten years ago.
The Walking Dead is set in future when a zombie apocalypse takes down the entire human race. Based on Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest, the show is a detailed and more bloody version of Man Vs Wild. The show is not suited for children below 18 years of age, for it comprises of selective nudity, sex, violence, blood and gore. The cameras, time and again, pan around the whole scene, giving the viewers a closer look at the bulging intestines and outstretched-ripped hands. Right from the formidable theme music to nerve-racking cliff hangers- everything about this show is so intriguing that it will keep you hooked for a long time.
Set in the rural area around Atlanta, The Walking Dead features Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal) in the lead roles. Rick wakes up from coma only to find everyone around him either dead or turned into a walker (zombie). He escapes the hospital which is no longer functional and ends up on the street, about to be bitten by a walker. He is saved by Morgan and his son and the trio split soon after when Rick decides to go to Georgia in search of the refugee camp. He hopes that his wife, Lori (Sarah Wayne), and his son, Carl (Chandler Riggs), are there in the refugee camp. The first season showcases the survival of the survivors. It also throws light upon the human need for comfort when one loses the most-loved person. Lori and Shane, assuming that Rick is dead, don’t waste a moment to be together and that jeopardizes the relationship of Rick and Shane eventually.
Each episode introduces us to a new character and the sheer brilliance with which all of them are brought together is commendable. Right from having a child as a survivor, the group consists of Carol (a submissive wife but a doting mother), an impulsive Andrea, her compassionate and patient sister, Amy, a swift and quick-witted Glenn, a rowdy Merle, his quiet yet hot-headed brother, Daryl and the oldest yet the most sensible, Dale. Things become tense when the refugee camp is attacked by the walkers. The group decides to head to the CDC in the hope of finding a cure but the outcome is disastrous because there happens to be no cure at the CDC. Surviving the odds, making tough choices, putting a bullet into the head of the loved ones and succumbing to the mortal law of nature- all these form the premise of the remaining first season. The following seasons see more people joining the gang, the group finding temporary shelter in a barn and then in a prison, simultaneously compromising more and more members of their team.
The best part of this show is the slight deflection from the usual zombie plot. Here, the dead transform into a zombie because they have already been infected by a virus (something eerily similar to the Covid-19 situation- though we are not transforming into the rotters or biters in any way). Another plus point is the slow transformation of each character. I am watching the 6th season at the moment and if I were to compare Rick or Carl or Carol or Daryl or any of the characters still alive, I will conclude with confidence that they are not like how they were in the very beginning. The show exposes the viewers to the stark reality of the human mind- how it goes out of control, becomes manipulative, becomes powerful when hungry and loses all humanity when it comes to survival. In some uncanny way, I could associate each of the inflection points in the show with the current situation of countries around the world. We might not be dead yet but we are inching towards a bleak future anyway. With coronavirus scare, people are hoarding resources, fighting their own kind, breaking all the rules and making an attempt to survive! In fact, I even felt that some of us are already ‘the walkers’- brainless, callous and hungry. Whichever way we choose to look at it, The Walking Dead is definitely a show that will make you think of the future and what lies ahead. It will urge you to think of a dystopian world where strangers become friends, friends become enemies, the dead come back to life, and the living live in the constant fear of dying.
The cinematography, action sequences and the graphics are amazing. Yes, if you cannot bear the sight of blood, this show is not for you. The show is not entirely focussed on zombies; it focusses more on human relationships. With palatable plot twists and unanticipated deaths, the show does leave you wanting for more. But the same cannot be said for the episodes after season 4 because the emergence of new groups and the inclusion of more violence seems like a digression from the main plot. Another positive point about the show is its connection with the viewers. The writers have certain characters and their weapons that form a bond with the viewers. For instance, Michonne’s sword and Daryl’s crossbow are some of the most loved items. Even Carl’s cap is something that I always look out for whenever he is in the frame. Using metaphorical references, the show highlights the aftermath of anarchy and also uses irony to show that the best option to be safe is to be inside the prison. Such small elements do stand out and make the show worthwhile.
Overall, The Walking Dead has been my personal favourite in the ‘Horror’ genre. Do give it a try and share you views on this post!