The Walking Dead
By Lea Killian
On Oct. 6, AMC premiered the tenth season of “The Walking Dead.”
Viewers might expect that in the tenth season, the grit and hysteria of an apocalyptic zombie show that once drew the largest audience in cable television would have died out long ago.
While it is true that the show suffered a drop in ratings throughout seasons 7 and 8, and even had to say goodbye to the main character of 9 years, Rick Grimes, the “Walking Dead” is far from meeting its demise.
In an interview with Yvette Nicole Brown for AMC’s “Talking Dead,” Rick Grimes himself, Andrew Lincoln, discussed the show’s possibilities in the absence of his character.
“It’s the story of Michonne, Daryl and all of those beloved people,” he said. “By taking Rick out of the narrative, you free space on this show in a way we have never done before. To be able to have all these extraordinary actors leading the show in their own ways, spinning off stories with Angela [Kang] at the helm, I feel like I’ve left this show in a better place than I found it.”
Even with substantial shoes to fill (cowboy boots, specifically), the remaining cast members, including Norman Reedus, Danai Guirira, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Melissa McBride readied themselves to begin a new chapter in “The Walking Dead” universe.
After a six-year time jump in season 9, audiences have grown accustomed to a more advanced way of life for the survivors.
With farmland, walls, communication between the communities and even an established treaty between them all, a world nearly forgotten has once again started to thrive.
In this world, the threat of death always looms. In season 10, however, it wears a new face.
The Whisperers have returned.
Adorned with masks of the faces of the dead, they walk among them through the forests surrounding the communities, chanting their mantra:
“We walk in darkness. We are free. We bathe in blood. We are free. We love nothing. We are free. We fear nothing. We are free. We need no words. We are free. We embrace all death. We are free. This is the end of the world. Now is the end of the world. We are the end of the world.”
To teach the communities a lesson at the end of season 9, Alpha (Samantha Morton), the leader of the Whisperers, murders ten of their own and establishes boundaries, forbidding the communities to cross over onto their lands.
In fear of another attack, they obey.
This is where audiences find their characters at the beginning of season 10.
Now at the mid-season finale, “The Walking Dead” has done just what Lincoln hoped it would.
In the exit of Rick Grimes, the show has created space to tell stories of PTSD, drug addiction and grief.
“The Walking Dead” has even introduced deaf and hard of hearing characters, Connie and Kelly, played by Lauren Ridloff and Angel Theory.
Dedicating scenes and storylines to convey conversation in American Sign Language, “The Walking Dead” has portrayed what many perceive as a disability, as a superpower — even in a zombie apocalypse.
Not only is “The Walking Dead” continually celebrating one of its many inspirations, George Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” (1968) by telling the stories of minorities, the show has even reconnected with its horror roots that were so prevalent in the beginning.
Between the efforts of Angela Kang, now in her second consecutive season as showrunner, and the dedication of the cast and crew, “The Walking Dead” has proven that even in a show’s tenth season, it can be better than ever before.
“The Walking Dead” airs on AMC Sunday nights at 8 p.m. and will return from its midseason break in February.