For a TV series to reach 100 episodes is an admirable feat, no doubt. When your show is about flesh-chomping zombies, there's an added layer of impressiveness.
"The Walking Dead" hit the century mark Sunday night at the start of its eighth season, and the 100th episode exhibited many of the same pluses and minuses that have dogged the series over its run.
In a series about the zombie apocalypse, when death is just a set of rotten teeth and decomposing flesh away, "The Walking Dead" tends to move along at something of a languid pace. There are signpost moments of horror such as Glenn and Abraham's horrid deaths, Carol forced to shoot a crazy little girl and the death of Herschel, but in between things slow down, sometimes to the point of "C'mon, shake a leg."
A good bit of the lag is devoted to character development, not necessarily a bad thing. You don't hit 100 episodes if the audience isn't invested in the people they're watching. And "The Walking Dead" has been very good at that. Back stories are developed; people change.
If you tune in on a regular basis, you're familiar with the yin-yang emotions and decisions of Rick, the wimp-to-warrior journey of Carol, the hardening of Maggie's resolve.
And, as many have, you've probably developed a serious attachment to Daryl and Michonne, two characters that may be untouchable — emphasis on "may" because characters in "The Walking Dead" can never be relied on to live.
In an interesting twist, the zombies have become almost an afterthought. They're still around; no one wants to hang with them. But the most dangerous animals are the humans; which, when you think about it, has pretty much always been the case, it's just far more in your face now.
Still, looking back over the show's eight seasons, it has fallen into a pattern that has spread out over the course of the plot. Basically, the group tries to find a safe place to live and eventually does. Then they must run like scalded dogs from there either because of a zombie avalanche or some nasty dude— the Governor, Negan — comes along and forces them to flee.
It was nice in the 100th episode to see the group decide it was time to stand and fight for their home in Alexandria, whatever the cost. About time.
Yet the episode barely moved the overall plot forward. A few tiny twitches here and there, but it still exhibits the familiar lethargy.
Sure, we'll keep watching it. We've put in too much time to kick it to the gutter now. But a zap of electricity would be welcome.
Contact Shawn Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org.