I keep forgetting that not only is there a long line of “Walking Dead” comics but that many fans of the show are way ahead of the plot because of them. The show and the comics don’t track perfectly (Carl’s still alive in the comics, for one thing) but they track well enough that people who tune into AMC every Sunday night often know major developments to come literally years before they happen. Years. I remember the excited buzz, for instance, after the show announced that Jeffrey Dean Morgan had been cast as Negan. “Negan’s coming!” chirped fans of the comics. Big news! But a total mystery to me and everyone else who knows the series only from the television version.
I mention that because, reading this morning that another anticipated character from the comics may or may not have arrived last night, it occurred to me that if the show’s already this tedious to those of us who don’t know the big-picture plot arcs well in advance, I cannot imagine how tedious it must be to those who do. Sitting there week after week wondering, “When are they going to get to the Commonwealth?” Are you kidding? Even at its best moments TWD feels aimless. To know the show’s destination points in advance and have to wait, and wait, and wait, and wait for them to reach them must be torture.
Last night brought us Georgie, the mystery woman in the van with the blueprint for Saving The World. For a brief hopeful moment I thought the secret knowledge she possessed had something to do with curing the zombie plague, which is the one genuinely interesting direction the show has left to go. It’s unexplored territory in the genre too. There have been zombie flicks that have touched on the subject of how to confront the zompocalypse in a scientific way (e.g., “Day of the Dead”) and TWD itself flirted with it back in season one during the episodes at the CDC. But never in a movie or show has the plague been cured, as far as I’m aware, nor has there ever been a biological agent developed that might kill off the zombies by infecting them, no head-shots required.
But no, Georgie’s secret knowledge was how to build windmills or something, which I assume is a premonition of those daydreams Rick sometimes has of a peaceful community operating with basic elements of civilization. Is Georgie really Georgie, though? Or is Georgie actually Pamela from the comics, a community leader who sounds a lot like a female version of the Governor? There’s really only one generic villain on TWD, with each new iteration getting a few slight character tweaks to keep things somewhat less stale. A female Governor would be right in line with viewer expectations.
The writers seem to like the idea of a polished, professional woman in a suit in charge of a post-apocalyptic community too. That’s what Deanna, Alexandria’s original leader, was. Georgie seems to be headed that way. And if Georgie is not in fact Pamela, Pamela will be a third example. It’s a fun character type. The show seemed to almost literally brighten when Georgie appeared, interrupting the dreary Luke/Darth showdown between Rick and Negan. The idea of a clean-cut businesswoman thriving, almost carefree, in the TWD hellscape where everyone else is starving and clinging to sanity is entertaining. In fact, just the *idea* of someone being genuinely well-organized freshens the air. The point of the show is that organization is effectively impossible in this environment; conflict always intervenes and kicks over your sand castles. Georgie seems to have her proverbial sh*t together, though, right down to a how-to manual for civilization. She’s a distaff Winston Wolf. Eventually her interactions with the Grimes gang will reduce her to a dull, haunted shell of a human being but let’s enjoy the chipper vibe of her and her butch twin-sister guards while we can.
As for the rest of the hour, a coup against Negan led by Simon and Dwight would be both realistic given how human social dynamics operate and unusual for this show, where leaders never seem to have their power tested from within. The Julius Caesar treatment from the people he’s brutalized would be a poetic end and a hard lesson that it actually is possible to go too far with one’s ruthlessness during the apocalypse. But it’s not meant to be. Per the heroic rules that govern the show, the dragon Negan must be slain by St. Rick. And the less we say of that Rick/Negan slapfight amongst the zombies in the warehouse, the better. You can’t do a proper showdown between hero and villain when we know from the start that it’ll end in a draw. For all the hype about its willingness to kill off major characters, the show’s always telegraphed when someone’s really at risk of being killed and when they’re not. The only saving grace was watching Negan flip out over Rick threatening to destroy his bat. Two alpha males wrestling over a flaming dong has never felt more urgent.