The Walking Dead started out as perfect ironing fodder. It didn’t matter if I had to go and pull stuff off the washing line cause all I’d miss was another zombie being spiked.
But as the show went on it gradually moved, like a slowly rotting corpse, into something much darker and grittier. So much so that by the time I came to the end of Season 5 it had become my favourite Thing I Watch When I Am Knitting show – and for some episodes I didn’t get much damn knitting done.
When we started leaving old-world style relationships behind (ie: as soon as Lori bit the dust) it really took off. I couldn’t buy into the love triangle between Lori, our hero Rick and his best friend (who left him to rot in a hospital and then seduced his wife) Shane. The world was imploding around them, they were living in a tent in a layby with a load of oddballs and eating grass. Weren’t there more important things going on down?
Thankfully, despite Glenn and Maggie getting together, and Bob and Sasha having a bit of a sweet thing, there has been no cringe-making lurve scenes (I don’t count Andrea and the Governor. I don’t think they did either). It has been about loyalty, family, filthy t-shirts and very tight trousers.
And talking of the Governor, while he was a great pantomime villain (eyepatch and immunity to death as standard), things were much more complex when the bad guys were the Terminans and the Claimers and those nutters at the hospital who took Beth. They all had harrowing backstories or warped codes of ethics and more nuances than you would expect from a blood-spattered zombie-fest.
In this world, the law of consequences is a killer – literally. Forget karma. If you don’t take someone out when you have the chance you are sure as hell going to regret it. Morgan can’t bring himself to shoot his undead wife – and we find later she is the one who kills his son. Dale’s death is totally Carl’s fault, for messing with a walker, and letting the Governor live wasn’t a good move for anyone, ever. This doesn’t half mess with your humanity.
Another reason it is so compelling is that anyone could die at any time. Except Rick, obvs, because he appears on the posters for Season 6. Knowing you can lose a major character means you never relax – I was fully expecting to see Glenn go down in the finale of Season 5. And you can’t bond with new characters because you never know if they are destined to be a regular or not. Why does Moses have to die when Tara and Rosita make it?
Bits that made me drop my cable needle
- Finding Merle’s severed, still handcuffed hand on the roof.
- The CDC centre going into lockdown and then blowing up.
- Carl getting shot straight after seeing the stag. So there is still beauty in this world? Nope.
- Shane reanimating without being bitten. WTF? Did I miss something? Combined with the revelation of what Dr Lister had whispered to Rick, this was jawdropping.
- The first apperance of Michonne, hooded, with a katana and two chained, armless walkers. Bloody awesome image.
- The Governor killing Martinez, proving he wasn’t redeemed at all, despite calling himself Brian.
- Beth getting shot. A perplexing surprise.
- Rick biting out Joe’s throat. He didn’t see that coming.
- Bob telling the Terminans they were eating infected flesh after waking up to find they’d barbecued his foot. Right back at ya there.
- Moses dying in the revolving door. This was horrible. He was a great character, with a strong back story. The revolving door was a brilliant idea and Glenn watching him die through the glass was too harrowing.
- Carol’s flowery jumper in Alexandria. It was hideous.
Bits that made me throw my stitch holders at the screen
- Lori telling Andrea that ladies don’t shoot, they do the laundry and the cooking. Waytogo Lori.
- Beth singing miserable songs. How about a version of Knees Up Mother Brown to cheer everyone up, eh Beth?
- Beth’s odd and pointless death. Why’d she stab Dawn? Why’d Dawn shoot her? (I read later the Beth actress had a singing career to pursue).
- Everyone believing Eugene was a top scientists despite his cowboy accent and totally unscientific hairstyle.
- Bizarre domestic violence plotline at Alexandria. Failed to engage or even interest me.
- Aiden and his crummy chum Nicholas at Alexandria being dangerous arseholes and no-one talking about it or apparently believing Glenn and Eugene. Infuriating plotline.
Bits that made me cry into my tension swatch
- Carol telling Lizzie to ‘look at the flowers’ before shooting her. I mean, that whole episode. Sob.
- Tyreese’s death. That whole episode. More sob.
Things that make me lose track when I am counting stitches
- The superclean, fully stocked chapel of rest where Beth and Daryl stayed. Who looked after it? Where did they get the bargain bottles of cola from?
- The hermit in the woods who threatened to call the cops. Had he really been asleep all those months, with a dead dog in the room, and no idea there was a zombie apocalypse going on?
- The hitchhiker outside the prison they ignored, then stole his bag once zombies had taken him down. He had managed to get that far, alone, and they let him die. That still bothers me.
- The one-eyed dog at the chapel of rest. I hope it’s ok.