If you are anything like millions of TV viewers across the globe, you watch [The Walking Dead](series:201193). If you are anything like me, you watch the show AND run through endless scenarios in your mind regarding the possible storyline the show will take, the different ways it will introduce thematic elements, and how closely the show will tie into the book.
The show has already deviated from the books in several regards, both by changing/omitting plot points and by adding/removing characters. These are not necessarily bad things, mind you, as it gives the show a life of its own. After all, the inclusion of Daryl Dixon might be one of the show's strongest factors. That being said, its differentiation from the books means that the show is going to traverse a different narrative path, so TV viewers and book readers alike may not know exactly where the story is going...and this means everyone can speculate together in collective uncertainty.
The problem is...the show is bound to disappoint. The way I see it, and this is just me...I could be wrong, there are only two possible ways the show can end. And both ways will be a let down.
1.) Everything Works Out:
A happy ending for the show would be that everything works out. Our characters find a way to mitigate, if not eliminate, the zombie threat and can reestablish society. Rick raises Carl and Judith. Maggie and Glenn settle down. Daryl does...whatever makes him happy. It would be nice to shut off the TV after the show's conclusion and rest assured knowing that our favorite characters are safe and sound.
But it would be totally stupid.
At the end of the day, a post-apocalyptic show is just that. Post-apocalyptic. You don't come back from that. That may be a pessimistic way of thinking, but to reestablish law and order from chaos is difficult...to do it amid a society in which governments, rules, and morality have crumbled would require nothing short of a miracle. These people are harrowed, distrustful, and desensitized...to deliver them a fresh world to mold on a silver platter would be both irresponsible and dangerous.
Plus, all of that is contingent upon the assumption that Rick and company have found a way to cure the cause of this in the first place. Thus far, every attempt to cure or hinder the source has failed. Our first-season friend at the CDC's attempts failed to materialize into anything tangible, no government entity has come up with anything, and our mullet-bearing companion has told us that he has nothing to bring to the table after all. A massive, last-minute cure would be a complete 180 for the show's demeanor and flavor.
Add to this the fact that every living person on the show is already infected. Without this, you could MAYBE make an argument for "wiping out every zombie and starting fresh," but unfortunately that plan falls apart when you remember that when the next guy dies, he gets right back up. Our heroes would need to: 1.) Kill the zombies. 2.) Set up a functioning system to eliminate new zombies. 3.) Make sure that nobody breaks that system in the hopes that they can cure their recently deceased relatives (read: Lizzie).
The number of factors involved in coming up with a "happily ever after" scenario are so numerous and so seemingly insurmountable, that such a conclusion, if executed, would appear too naive and convenient for the show. It would would feel like a cop-out. A happily-ever-after ending in a world where those words have nary been uttered together.
There is another side to this coin, as well.
2.) Everything Doesn't Work Out:
What's left, then, is the thematically consistent scenario: "more of the same." The crew moves on and on...trying to stay alive. We see new villains, new friendships, new romances, and we lose a few folks along the way. We get some interesting new dilemmas for our characters to work out and eventually our characters find some sort of emotional closure. Or they die. Either of those would be a viable solution to the show if it weren't for one problem...
The zombies are still the bad guys.
We've seen the seeds planted for some interesting villains. The Governor started out to be fantastically interesting. The folks at Terminus opened the door for some great discussions about how people sacrifice their own humanity in order to survive. Even the folks at the hospital brought some interesting ideas to the forefront. The problem is... these people all give way to zombies in the end.
At its core, the show has the potential to be Lord of the Flies in the United States. What are we? What does it mean to be human? What parts of ourselves are we willing to lose in order to fight another day? These are questions that should be asked and discussed thoroughly.
Unfortunately, the show casually mentions them as it walks by, rather than sitting you down and talking face-to-face. It merely scratches the surfaces of these issues, rather than diving in and exploring the complexity inherent to each and every one.
Realistically, the surviving characters should have this down to science by now. It shouldn't be a struggle for them to hold off a horde and traverse the highway of the week. The real battle should be man vs. man. Unfortunately The Governor phased in and out in a season and a half. Terminus came and went in a matter of episodes. The hospital was just a blip on the radar. The real threat is still, somehow, the zombies. We keep getting the same story, over and over, and we will eventually find the zombies uninteresting and become less invested in the characters.
Reaching an emotionally satisfying conclusion in the TV universe would require the characters to be making these tough ethical decisions and facing complex emotional quandaries. These issues should be hurling down the tracks at top speed. Unfortunately, they get derailed by zombies before our characters ever get to the crossing.
When not writing for Moviepilot, you can check out gaming videos and commentary by Nerdy, Inc. on YouTube.