The humans are getting as anonymous as the zombies.
It’s beginning to feel like “The Walking Dead” has started introducing characters just to mow them down, which makes their deaths, to this viewer, less meaningful. And the show less interesting. The deaths feel like convenient shortcuts for the show’s writers: We need to spark a dispute between Tyrese and Rick? Let’s kill Tyreese’s love interest, Karen, and have someone (probably Rick, right?) burn her corpse.
“We’ve now reached the point in ‘The Walking Dead,’ where some deaths just don’t have the same emotional impact on us,” writes Chuck Barney in the Contra Costa Times. “The show has mowed through so many key characters — Shane, Lori, T-Dog, Andrea, Merle, etc. — that it’s now picking off people in whom we’re hardly invested. Who was Karen anyway? Who knows?”
As I put it in my review of the first two episodes of this season: “The most boring part of the new episodes is the ceremonial trotting out of characters we know will be eaten soon. You’re cute, a regular cast member likes you, and you’re going on a supply run? Hope you’ve picked out a coffin.”
So are these new people people? Or just plot points? Let’s look at some of the recent deaths. We’ll understand if you don’t remember everyone’s names.
Karen: We first met her last season, when she was one of The Governor’s less enthusiastic followers. Eventually she turned against him, in the Season 3 finale, and survived a massacre by hiding among corpses. Last week, we saw that she had a thing with Tyreese. This week, she’s dead. Tyreese seems surprised to find her charred corpse. Did she really need to be killed along with the verifiably infected? Isn’t it possible she was just a little sick? Perhaps we’re heading toward a Rick-Tyreese confrontation, sparked by the death of Karen, who is more plot device than person.
Patrick: Introduced in last week’s season premiere, Patrick serves absolutely no purpose except to spread the virus behind the prison walls.
Ryan: The father of Lizzie and Mika is introduced and killed for just one reason: So Carol can demand that his daughter, Lizzie, kill him before he turns. He’s here as a plot device to show how tough Carol has become. But is she too tough? Is there no room for humanity? Are even the children… etc.
The pigs: Let’s not even talk about the poor pigs.
Zach: Beth’s new boyfriend, introduced and killed last episode, is so disposable that even she doesn’t seem sad when he dies. That’s why he’s here: To show us that Beth is jaded now, and, like many others, doesn’t get too attached to new people.
I’m not getting attached to new people, either. But that unfortunately has also made me less attached to this season.
By the way, about the rats: That’s totally The Governor feeding them to the walkers, right?