It’s about time The Walking Dead stops with the fake deaths already. Setting it up to have a character look like they died just before a long break to keep viewers interested. It’s like crying wolf and starts to lose its emotional impact after awhile. Worse is that the viewers start to second guess everything you show them. If you’re not up to date on The Walking Dead and insist everything must be a surprise to you, then you may want stop reading now as there are some spoilers. Not that some big spoilers are to be had here but it may detract from some of the things that are revealed in the show. Not that I think any of the fake deaths are that great anyways. But here lately The Walking Dead has been trending more and more towards the soap opera variety of entertainment of suggesting a character has died towards the end of a mid or regular season final and then bringing them back. It’s lame story telling.
The Walking Dead: Fake Deaths
First Fake Death, Merle
I guess it could be argued that it all began in season one, with Merle being chained to the roof of a building in downtown Atlanta for being too much of a prick. Though he probably deserved being left to die, it set up his return with the Governor a couple seasons later. His toughness and determination are what allowed him to make it out of this dire situation and it added to the character and it added depth to every scene he was in when he came back. It was actually pretty good. The tension later on between Rick and others because of it was excellent, it made watching it exciting. Not to mention we never really saw him die on the roof and it’s believable that he could’ve chopped his hand off to escape, people have actually done this before. Ever hear of a wolf caught in a bare trap? Merle is the same kinda animal. This is an example of some good story telling.
2nd Fake Death, Judith
It wasn’t until season 3 when Rick and the others were routed from the prison that another fake death happened, this time with Rick’s daughter Judith. In the chaos she was left unguarded. Tragic yes but in the chaos this is understandable. I mean in a world of constantly fighting off the undead and contending with rival groups of survivors, anyone who can’t take care of themselves doesn’t have good chances. I imagine there wouldn’t be many elderly, injured, or slow people left after the zombies took over. This is a very difficult world to live in after all.
And when I saw the empty baby carrier, bloodied and abandoned, I was like wow. They actually stuck to the brutality of the comic books. I was impressed, sure they didn’t actually show it on camera but I don’t think anyone wanted to see a baby get mauled by walkers. It was a necessary touchstone in Rick’s development from the comics and was glad it made it into the show.
When Rick’s daughter looked like she died it really hit home with viewers. The thing that drew audiences in was Rick’s loss, he was crushed. In the comics the rout from the prison is what broke him, changed him. It was a watershed event in the story and for the character. Rick became a lot more harsh, a stone cold stare was often apart of his character.
Unfortunately, it was just another fake death. She made it out of the prison after all. Even a helpless baby is apparently capable of faking its own death in the way that both Elvis and Hitler would be envious, at least if any of those tabloids are to believed. Sure, it was a bit of a let down. I mean I’m not rooting for baby killing or anything like that, I’m definitely pro-baby. Now there’s a political bumper sticker for ya, I’m not pro-choice or pro-life, just pro-zombies not eating babies. It’s just that the scene set it up to make the viewers think that the baby died. I mean come on, absent baby, bloodied carrier, satiated walkers nearby, I guess the babies gone and they just didn’t want to show the gore. What were we supposed to think? I was cool with that.
Instead when the new season starts the baby is fine. Nothing was gained from it, no character growth, no development. Nothing was learned, it was flat. It may have not been the best death on television but it made sense that in the difficult post-apocalyptic zombie world in which they lived in. There probably isn’t many babies left because life is hard, tragedies happen. Babies are tasty, Jonathan Swift jokes not withstanding
3rd Fake Death, Glenn
This ended up not being a tragedy after all. So later on when Glenn, one of the show favorites, falls off dumpster with one of his dead weight companions into a crowd of zombies, he looks to be a goner. From a trick angle the scene is shot from above looking down on the horde, who are apparently tearing into a Glenn. Who has a very sad look on his face, not to be confused with the “Ahhhh, walkers are tearing into my guts” kinda faces, it was one of those sad faces 🙁 It’s revealed several episodes later that his friend fell on top of him, buying him time by distracting the walkers. Glenn makes is way under an nearby dumpster, kills the scant few dedicated walkers who try to chase him and just calls it a day. He decides to wait the walkers out. I mean that works with zombies right?
I mean come on walkers are busy people, they have things to do, people to eat. They can’t just wait around for someone to come out of hiding and they do get distracted easily. That’s the problem with the undead, short attention spans. I mean think of all the time walkers surround a prison or something else like or tank and just give up and left. That’s what they do, right?
The real kicker of it is that in the comics Glenn does die. And a sign of any good zombie show is that everyone’s survivability eventually drops to zero, no one lives for ever. It’s what the genre is about. So when they showed Glenn apparently dying I was like, it sucks but I understand it. It was a good death after all, he did his best, fought to keep his friend alive, never once showing cowardice and selfishness. He looked death in the eye and didn’t blink. It was a good death, it was a shame it was fake though. It rang hollow.
3rd Death, Daryl??
Aside from the cheapness of it, pretending a character dies just to bring characters back ends up biting you in the end. And that’s where we are, about to enter the finale for season six, with Daryl and friends at the mercy of some real nasty baddies. Just at the end of the episode you see Daryl apparently get shot. Well it’s suggested, but not shown explicitly. This will be the forth time an apparent death has happened and it’s starting to lose all impact. They’ve cried wolf too much. We’re not buying it anymore.
Over the span of the show The Walking Dead has overused this fake death plot device way too much, it has become tired. They need to move on to better story telling. It may be interesting to see them kill off a big character that the fan girls love ( cough, cough, Daryl) and have them do it in an undeniable way. Point blank shot to the head. No cheat angles, no deus ex machina dumpsters, just plain dead. Seeing the forum board light up in the anger would be worth it alone. But more importantly it would be good story telling, something The Walking Dead needs to get back to.
The show can’t go on forever and they are starting to catch up with the comics. They’ll have decide how the show will end eventually. Just as with the zombie classic model, no one lives forever, all things must come to an end. It’s not saying that a lot of people have to die but faking out the audience into thinking that characters die in a finale before a break and bringing them back is a amateurish way to do it.
What are your thoughts? Have the fake deaths helped or hurt The Walking Dead in your eye? Do you think Daryl is really dead? Sound off the in the comments below and don’t forget to catch The Walking Dead Season 6 finale tomorrow night on AMC!