Despite a significant improvement in The Walking Dead’s latest episode, “Worth,” the series’ most apparent problems were paraded around like a herd of zombies. “Worth” focuses mainly on the inner turmoil within The Saviors’ ranks, with Simon (Steven Ogg) endlessly needling Dwight (Austin Emelio) to topple Negan’s (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) rule.
Though it ultimately followed through with Simon’s fate, it needlessly flaunted his almost being killed on two separate occasions before actually committing to it. And, when it did, the reveal of Simon’s reanimated corpse was well executed, with Michonne (Danai Gurrira) reading Negan the letter left to him by Carl (Chandler Riggs) as a backdrop.
But the larger problem the show mires itself in is its incessant need to flaunt major plot changes without ever committing to them. Just two weeks earlier, it was teased that Negan was in the clutches of Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh), only to have that entire subplot play out over a couple of old photographs and a ham-handed conversation.
They kept up the pace this week by having Rosita (Christian Serranos) and Daryl (Norman Reedus) kidnap Eugene (Josh McDermitt) from the Savior compound only to have him scurry away in the very next scene. Okay, in all fairness, watching Eugene forcing himself to yack on Rosita was pretty entertaining — but suddenly Daryl, this master tracker, loses him in a pile of ashy human remains?
It’s been a problem The Walking Dead has dealt with for quite some time. Great season premieres and finales (and now, midseason premieres and midseason finales) would usually bookend a standout great episode, but the rest were basically filler. And with a whopping 16 episodes a year, which often (and bafflingly) stretch their runtimes, there’s always a lot of filler.
Add to that the fact we’ve been dealing with Negan for upwards of 40 episodes now. He was first introduced two full years ago, and the big reveal of who he killed in his big debut aired before the 2016 election. And let’s not forget that Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and company were dealing with The Saviors in some capacity prior to all this. So, now we’ve got a show known for drawing out episodes is now stuck with an overly long, drawn-out story arc. And it is tiring.
That’s why these plot-twist fake-outs are so fucking irritating. Especially now. After endless wheel-spinning that’s involved way, way too much macho posturing from both Rick and Negan, having something actually happen would be such a welcome change. And we get teased that something’s about to happen, time and again, only to have the show pull out the Ralph Wiggum via Simpson’s Bible Stories move.
Granted, for a penultimate entry in season eight’s ponderous “All Out War,” “Worth” does manage to get all the pieces in order for a big, shooty finale. At this point, I don’t care who wins. Rick’s as unlikable as Negan, Maggie’s (Lauren Cohan) gotten about 40 seconds of screentime, and I seriously just can’t with the Community Theater King. But I care that someone wins (yes, of course it’ll be Rick) just so we can move past this egregiously long and increasingly disappointing storyline.
Hell, it almost seems more compelling to just let ’em just wander aimlessly through the woods again.*
*Do not take this remark seriously.