I was up at Lake Texoma this weekend so I missed the latest episode of The Walking Dead when it originally aired. I did, however, set the DVR for it. I came back from the lake on Tuesday of this week and while I was eager to watch most of the shows that I had recorded, I really couldn’t summon up much enthusiasm for The Walking Dead. For the show’s first four or five seasons, The Walking Dead is what I would have immediately watched but, eleven seasons in, the show no longer holds the promise of the unexpected. Instead, it has settled down into a comfortable pattern.
Earlier today, when I finally did get around to watching Rendition, it all felt very, very familiar. Once again, Darryl ended up wandering off on his own Once again, Darryl ended up getting captured and tortured by the latest group of evil humans, The Reapers. We learned a little about Reaper culture but, despite the whole religion angle, it turns out that the Reapers are just like every other group of evil humans who have shown up in the show. At this point, even Darryl should be wondering how the exact same thing can keep happing to the exact same guy.
(At first, I was going to say that this episode did change things up a bit by having one of Darryl’s ex-lovers turn out to be a Reaper. But then I remembered that Darryl’s brother turned up at the Governor’s prison and that was actually a lot more impressive because Darryl’s brother actually had a definable personality of sorts. He came across as being something more than just a plot point.)
The gimmick with The Reapers is that, before the zombie apocalypse, they served in Afghanistan and they’re now ultra-religious. That does explain why the Reaper from last week was so happy to see Gabriel and so insistent that Gabriel pray for him. It also explain why the leader of the Reapers is named Pope, even though that seems more than a bit heavy-handed on the part of the writers. But who knows? Maybe this story arc will actually give Gabriel something to do other than glare at everyone with his one good eye. One can only hope. Watching this episode, it was hard not to contrast Gabriel’s cry of, “There is no God here!” to Pope’s request (or was it a demand) that Daryl believe in the Reapers’ version of God.
That said, this episode felt way too familiar. It was well-acted and competently directed and all of that but it still felt a bit too safe for an episode during the final season of a show that, regardless of what it may be now, was once a pop cultural juggernaut. If you’re like me and you’re hoping things will go out with not just a bang but with a few hundred bangs, it’s impossible not to be disappointed with this season so far. Let’s hope things pick up and we actually do get the type of finale that The Walking Dead deserves!