Not everyone sees eye-to-eye. You might love something that’s reviled by most others. When we at PoP! feel like that, we make an argument In Defense Of…
*It’s been a few weeks since the finale, but still… Spoilers ahead, kids*
AMC’s The Walking Dead is a certified hit. Even so, there are people online every single week that manage to find something to complain about (I’m as shocked as you are). More often than not, those complaints come with comparisons to the comic book of the same name. In the interest of full disclosure, I have to say that I was definitely vocal in the first half of the second season with regards to Sophia. I was more than ready for them to move on and find that kid. But when we finally got the payoff, it hit me in the gut. The barn scene was a great reveal, even if the build-up took a little longer than I might have liked. But I didn’t even remember Sophia was in the comics at all until I re-read the first trade recently, so my beef was purely based on storytelling, not a comparison to the books.
Sure, the show has its flaws. The characters don’t always make the best decisions and it’s not exactly lightning-fast in its pacing. Still, The Walking Dead manages to garner mostly positive reviews until they do something that’s a radical departure from the comics. The group going to the CDC in Atlanta drew ire from comic fans, but that was nothing compared to when Dale and Shane died in season two.
When Dale bit the dust, it was definitely a surprise. He had a long run in the books before meeting his maker, so most reader certainly didn’t see it coming… And they were mad. But I think Dale’s untimely demise reinforces one of the purest principles of the comic series: anyone can die at any time. No one is safe. The outrage for Shane’s death is more of a puzzler. Not only was Shane’s character on a downward spiral he had no real chance of coming out of, but he died in issue 6 of the comics. He’s been on borrowed time all year. So Carl didn’t shoot him. So what? His death scene in the show a hundred times better than the rushed end he got in the comics. It’s a powerful scene made better by great performances from Andrew Lincoln and John Bernthal.
The finale brought with it two big moments (or at least teases) that fans of the comics have been waiting for: the debut of fan-favorite Michonne and the first glimpse of the prison. The prison is without a doubt where the comic series really started to find its legs. I’d say that the show is already more solid than the print version at this point in their respective stories. Still, these are benchmark moments for the series. Fans are excited, as they should be, but let’s not for one second expect a direct adaptation of the books now. We certainly haven’t gotten it thus far (where’s Tyrese, already!?). Is that such a bad thing? If you want to read about Dale’s further adventures, read the comics. They’re out there and easy to find (especially these days).
No matter what happens on the show and no matter how far it deviates from the comics, I’m fine with it. If it’s good, it’s good. If it’s bad, it’s bad. I’m not going to let a comparison to the comic affect my enjoyment of the TV series. The man who has written every word these characters have spoken in the comics and plotted every single one of their stories is very actively involved in the TV show. If he’s okay with it, what room do we have to complain? Why would we want the same stories regurgitated to us anyway? Why not enjoy both the surprises and the familiar parts?
There’s so much to like about The Walking Dead, it seems like some people are going out of their way to complain about it. But that’s what the internet is for, isn’t it? With any luck, the prison story will bring enough familiarity that those folks will knock it off and enough surprises that the more rational viewers can enjoy a new experience. I’m already looking forward to Michonne and Andrea coming up on the prison together, even though it didn’t happen in the comics that way. How about that?