Season five of The Walking Dead returns in a month and AMC has released a teaser for the final half of the season. I don’t think it’s actual episode footage, but the emphasis is on survival as Rick says that “all that matters is surviving—together.” So it would seem that Rick has given up on his dreams of finding a safe, permanent settlement. That’s a good call—the worst parts of the series have come whenever Rick has tried to re-establish society, while all the best parts happen when Rick & Co. are on the move.
After the early success of the show, AMC got cheap and tried to lower production costs by having the characters stay in one place and see less zombies—enter season two and Hershel’s awful farm. That strategy probably irreparably damaged the show. Given its cable pedigree and massive success, you’d think The Walking Dead would be a perennial award contender but it’s not, and that’s largely because people stopped taking it seriously in season two, when everything that was cool and interesting about the show was ground into the farm dirt. The show has rebounded since then, but the damage was done. The Walking Dead became known for hate-watching and with the writing under fire for those dubious network-driven reasons, it’s never managed to be taken seriously by various award groups.
But AMC and the people who make the show can console themselves with their piles of money and legions of devoted fans. The Walking Dead might not win major awards but it’s an enormous hit, and it’s actually a pleasure to watch again. Although I don’t think they have the balls to kill off a major character at this point. The loss of Beth is sadder for the people who worked with Emily Kinney than the viewers, and I bet the next death will be someone from Abraham Ford’s group, someone we’re not really attached to. The network may have lightened up on that whole “stay in one place” thing, but I doubt they have the stones to pull the trigger on someone like Rick, Carol, or Daryl.