We’re halfway through The Walking Dead’s seventh season and so far, it’s been quite the bumpy ride. Although the midseason finale, titled “Hearts Still Beating,” was much more entertaining and better paced than the majority of the episodes that preceded it, this has so far been one of the weakest seasons The Walking Dead has yet produced. Much of the blame can be laid squarely at the feet of Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s overbearing new villain Negan, who quickly wore out his welcome with his terrible jokes and long-winded monologues on pretty much every topic under the sun.
More importantly, this season simply made for boring television and the precipitous drop in ratings since the season premiere seem to indicate that many viewers lost patience with what the show was trying to do. Fortunately, there are still eight more episodes coming in the new year and with a new narrative focused on bringing everyone together for a war with Negan’s Saviors, there is potential for the latter half of season seven to redeem what came before it.
Focus More On Character Development
If the final scene from midseason finale proves anything — other than that leaving off on a hopeful note is much more satisfying than a frustrating cliffhanger — it’s that despite The Walking Dead’s many problems, its core cast of characters are still likable and worth caring about, for the most part. Unfortunately, this is something the show routinely seems to take for granted, especially in the first half of this season, as Rick and Carl seem to be the only two characters in the principal cast who did experienced any sort of growth as characters.
As Vox’s Todd VanDerWerff points out, Robert Kirkman went on this week’s Talking Dead and made a big deal about how fans should be worried about Daryl turning into a killing machine, but his savage takedown of Fat Joey (RIP) seems to stem more from being a unwilling captor of a murderous lunatic for weeks (months?) than some sort of turn towards becoming a murderous psychopath. After all, how bad can Daryl really be when he’s still willing to give Rick the broiest of bro hugs? Hopefully, the latter half of Season 7 will take some of these characters in new directions that result in some actual development, instead of viewers having to be told they should worry about a bit of subtext that may or may not even be there.