Monday, 16 December 2013

Alas, Poor Hershel

It's an unspoken tenet of fiction that you don't kill off dogs if you want to endear yourself to your readers ... or if you do, you promptly resurrect them (if you're Dean Koontz) or establish that it was just a bad dream. I'd like to add a second tenet: you don't kill off your elderly and wise characters in a leading television series. This is what the producers of The Walking Dead have done.

As fans of the series know, The Walking Dead has a particularly high casualty rate for lead actors. I've had no problems with other main characters being killed off because their deaths at least served some purpose in advancing the plot or their characters had simply run their course (and in some cases were getting a bit tiresome). In fact, I was finding the Governor storyline very tedious and was glad to see him go. But this season has me wondering if the show's writers actually know where they're going with the story. First Carol is banished by Rick (who previously in the season was incapable of making any major decision) and now they've killed off Hershel, the compassionate elder and the voice of reason. And they've killed him off in such grandiose fashion--with his head hacked off by the Governor--that (unlike Carol) there is simply no path for bringing him back.

For his part, Scott Wilson chose the high road and, when advised his character was about to meet his demise, remarked simply that he thought the producers were "making a big mistake". (See his interview with Entertainment Weekly.) I'm sure there are a lot of viewers out there who would agree with him.

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