First, let us say this: The Walking Dead delivered in spades for its season 8 finale. There was tension. There was drama and action. It was well-paced. All the elements were in place. Somehow it made us forget the pain of losing Abraham, Glenn, and Carl. Of course, seeing Rick and company win, not to mention having Negan bathing in his own blood was also a big plus.
Then again, it felt like a little too late. And we are not alone.
The numbers don't lie. When the show debuted in 2010, it immediately earned a respectable 5.9 million viewership average. Engaging characters and excellent storytelling would catapult it to the top in the years to come, with Season 5 enjoying as much as 17.1 million viewers.
Alas, it has been a downhill trip since. Data provided by Nielsen shows Season 6, 7, and 8 mustering 14, 11, and 7 million viewers, respectively. The last time the show drew less than 7 million viewers was the Season 2 episode "Better Angels," which averaged 6.9 million. What gives?
Personally, we started losing interest in the show the moment it started introducing characters that were seemingly useless and utterly redundant. Like, do we really still need Father Gabriel? Or Tara? Worse, it stopped investing in characters that have already made a mark on viewers: like Darryl, Jesus, and Rosita.
Then it started killing too much of the characters we loved. And for what? The answer: as a cheap gimmick to inflate ratings. Some fans actually started petitioning to oust Scott Gimple.
The pacing has become as slow as a Walker. And then there's Rick. We once rooted for him because he was a stand-up guy worthy of emulation. Then we started hating him for being too confused. Andrew Lincoln is a good actor, but lately, it's like he's doing an impression of Coco Martin as Cardo on FPJ's Ang Probinsiyano. And we know how irritating Martin's acting on that show is, lisp and all. We're guessing the writers thought Rick's worsening confusion about his situation and his penchant for daydreaming could give the show an added edge. Well, they're wrong.
The prolonged dramatic scenes became a pain to watch, too. The flashbacks were a cop-out. The dream sequences were a little on the heavy side. The cringe-inducing speeches too many. We could go on.
Actually, we all thought the introduction of Negan was a welcome shot to the arm for the show. But the creators took it the wrong way, milking the idea until we could only groan and change the channel.
Hey TWD people. We all came to watch the show expecting to see humans battling to survive in a world populated by zombies. Where did that go? Will the show be able to bounce back for Season 9?
It seems dicey at best. They have to do a thorough retooling of the show—we're looking at you, TWD writers and directors—to get the fans' attention back.