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After thinking about the Season 7 premiere of "The Walking Dead" for days, I keep going back to my initial reaction.
I think I'm done.
(Spoilers coming if you haven't seen the episode.)
I've given it a lot of thought. More than it deserves, because I can't get the horrific, sadistic images out of my mind.
Yes, "The Walking Dead" has always been violent and gory. But current showrunner Scott Gimple (who took over in Season 4) and his team are simply reveling in sadism.
It wasn't about advancing the plot. It was about shock value.
A number of critics are calling it "torture porn," and I'm reluctantly forced to agree.
"TWD" almost lost me last season with its dumb, fake-out death of Glenn (Steven Yeun), who turned out not to be dead after all. And then in the Season 7 premiere, we were faked out again.
The Season 6 cliffhanger left us waiting to find out whose head the evil Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) had bashed in. On Sunday, that was stretched through half the episode before we saw Negan kill Abraham (Michael Cudlitz).
But, minutes later, Negan bashed Glenn's head, too.
Another cheap trick. More of the writers disrespecting viewers.
And we were given a look at Glenn with his head split open, his eye bulging out, telling his wife, Maggie, "I'll find you" before Negan finished the job.
Torture porn. Contempt for the viewers.
Yes, Glenn died in the comic book. But a TV series is not a comic book. And the TV narrative is that the writers faked Glenn's death; he was miraculously still alive, and then they killed him.
I'm a big fan of shows that can surprise with plot twists, but I hate being manipulated.
"TWD" has become entirely unfocused. The episode did an extremely poor job of explaining why Negan kept Rick (Andrew Lincoln) alive. It kept teasing that everyone but Rick had been killed another fake-out. And the whole Negan plotline feels like a replay of the Governor narrative.
"The Walking Dead" used to be about humanity pushed to extremes. The zombie apocalypse was a plot device to reveal who people really are.
It used to be a great show that used violence as a way to advance compelling storylines. Now it's just violent, sadistic and repulsive.
It has become the TV equivalent of a low-budget slasher film.
I've spent days trying to decide if my negative reaction is because Glenn was my favorite character and I'm unhappy he was killed in such a brutal, manipulative fashion. But it's not just that.
Glenn was the one character who provided some sort of moral backbone. Some sense of optimism, however slight.
I'm a very loyal TV viewer. I don't give up on shows easily. And I've watched all 84 episodes of "The Walking Dead" since it debuted six years ago.
But I think I'm done. I'll be happier if I just move on.
Scott D. Pierce covers TV for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.