The Walking Dead and Genre

The Walking Dead is a show that has always had a problem with genre. When the show first started it was regarded as a horror show, but it has been almost an entire decade since that first season aired. Since the end of the first season, the show has had an identity crisis as far as genre goes. It’s been a horror show, an action show, a soap opera, a western, a Game of Thrones knockoff,  a throwback to 80s sci-fi, the origins of pulp hero, and more recently a cop show. This article will be addressing the latter two of the list.

There are several moments in seasons eight and nine that point to the fact that the writing staff is trying to turn Rick into a larger than life pulp hero. Two of these moments occur when Rick pays a visit to “The Garbage People”. The setting, music, and people themselves scream 80s sci-fi, but the circumstances that Rick is under when he is concealed inside the walls of the dump are that of a pulp hero. The first time he is in this location he gets dropped into a pit of death. These are seemingly dire circumstances until our hero fights his way out with relative ease. Only to be put into a worse situation down the line. The second time he visits the garbage people they capture him and try to force him to face his doom once again at the hands of walkers. He defeats their challenge yet again. This time with his hands literally tied behind his back. Beating everyone with a wooden stick.

In the ninth season premiere, Rick and friends visit their new allies at the “Sanctuary”. Rick is the only one acknowledged by members of the sanctuary. They exclaim his name and refer to him as “the man who ended the war”. You can’t be a pulp hero without being larger than life. There is a reason that the character of Tarzan is not just known as Tarzan, he is known as The Legend of Tarzan. They’ve established that people not only know his name, but they speak of him and what he has done. The writers are trying to elevate Rick to a living legend status before he departs the show for good.

Law & Order: Virginia

One of the main reasons I wanted to write this article was due to last Sunday’s episode. While watching it I had a strange feeling like I had seen it before. Suddenly it was as if the opening credits had a title card that read “Created by Dick Wolf”. Or as if this is what the show would’ve been like if The Walking Dead was picked up by CBS instead of AMC. The rest of this article will address how the last episode used every cop show cliche to tell the story.

The story starts at the end of the previous week’s episode with a classic POV shot of the killer looking at the victim from the bushes. They walk up to the victim and they exclaim to the killer “Hey, what are you D-“. The victim gets killed before they can finish their sentence or say the name of the killer. This is where the Law & Order theme song usually starts. The actual episode starts with Rick the cop checking in on his sleeping daughter and girlfriend. His girlfriend wakes up, they talk about having children in the future, and we are made to assume that they make love. We even get a happy montage of the three of them having fun before Rick has to start this new homicide case.

Soon after someone finds the dead body. There is a fight in the lobby of the police station… I mean campground. Where there are several people accusing each other of the murder. This is where of course police captain Rick Grimes has to break up this mob and promise to solve the case. He even asks one of his cops, Gabriel to tail a suspect in a B storyline that won’t get resolved until a later episode. Rick then uses his police tactics to grill a usual suspect into confessing to the murder. The interview did not go as he thought because Darrell is innocent and Rick grilled him for nothing. This is the first red herring of the episode. Rick sends his cops out in teams of two in order to investigate the murder. They lose radio contact with one of them. Turns out they were knocked out cold from behind. Could it be the killer? Why didn’t they get killed?

Then Rick and his team of police officers have the obligatory meeting about how they are not finding the killer fast enough and how it is a danger to the public. During this meeting, the words “Nab the perp” are actually spoken. They continue to investigate as teams of two when one of the cops finds some evidence that might break this case wide open. Not before Gaberial gets knocked out while investigating his B storyline. Guess we’ll have to tune in next week to see how that wraps up. We also get a scene where one cop gets grabbed by a suspect and has a weapon held up to her. Causing her partner to be forced into a standoff with the suspect. She breaks free because she is a main character and can’t die. It turns out that the suspect is yet another red herring and didn’t really need to do any of this.

Finally, two of the cops find out who the killer is. It turns out that it was someone from the first ten minutes of the episode and they find this out in the last ten minutes of the episode. The killer kills for a tragic reason that the cops feel empathy for so they look the other way. I don’t consider this final part an overused cliche, but I do feel like I have seen it one or two cops shows. Overall this wasn’t a bad episode. It was just kind of silly. Rick only has a couple episodes left and we’re going to take him back to his cop days? Kind of strange. This does feel like what the show would’ve been like if a network had picked it up. The zombies would’ve just been the background and Rick would be solving the case of the week. Putting on his sunglasses to some killer theme music.

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