The burning question ‘Dead’ writers haven’t answered

Before the much-anticipated season finale of The Walking Dead airs this Sunday, I have to get one thing off my chest. It’s a story hole that the writers of the show have so far let slip by them.

In a season of episodes that have been as poignant as they have been shocking, it’s hard to knock the writers at all. But here goes…

What caused the outbreak of the walking dead?

Fans know that show newcomer Dr. Eugene Porter (played by Josh McDermitt) professes to know what caused the plague of zombies and, what’s more, how to stop it. And it’s the job of Abraham Ford (played by Michael Cudlitz) to get him to Washington, D.C., presumably to put his answers to work.

After enduring the prison episodes during the first half of this season, Ford and Porter’s arrival on the show was a welcome change of pace – and exciting. Finally, more than three seasons in, someone is asking “what’s going on” and “can we stop it?”

Sadly, however, the pair instead follows Glenn on his mission to find Maggie and the answer – or at least the quest to find answers – is put on the backburner. What’s more, neither Glenn nor his latest traveling companion, Tara, seem remotely interested in the answers. At no point do they take the bait and ask, “What caused this?”

Even after Glenn is reunited with Maggie and the others, the question remains not only unanswered, but unasked.

Maybe it’s the old journalist in me, but I’m dying to know the answer. If someone told me they know the answer, wouldn’t you at least ask? What else is there to talk about in this apocalyptic landscape anyway?

OK, maybe the conversation took place off screen. It’s not like the viewer is with these characters all the time. But still, it seems like an important enough conversation to have and one that should be held on screen.

Of course, it’s possible that Eugene may be full of it. Maybe he doesn’t have the answers. Maybe he’s just saying he does so that he can get the protection of Ford and the rest of the group. I haven’t read the comics – I don’t want them to spoil this wonderful TV show in any way – but someone should step up and ask. Here’s hoping that someone asks some tough questions in Sunday’s season finale, even if we have to wait ’til October to get the answers.

Addendum (post-season finale):

OK, no answers and no question asked in the season finale either. But who cares? Episode “A” was just too damn intense as it is. I’m happy to wait a few more months…I trust the writers will take us there. Season 4B my favorite season so far!

Writer’s block? Just pull out the old plague script

If there’s one sure thing you can count on with a new television series, it is a plague episode.

Admit it. You’ve seen this storyline over and over again, especially in genre-type TV shows. A mysterious super virus runs rampant, bringing down most of the main stars and threatening to do even more damage unless a miracle cure is found. And the clock is ticking.

The Star Trek family of TV series is notorious for them. They even have variations of the plague story. There is the actual alien virus storyline, and then there is the crew afflicted with growing old storyline. Or young.

Even The Walking Dead, which is already a show about a plague of zombies, had a plague storyline during the first part of this season. The flu-bug tore through the humans at the prison, adding an unseen enemy to the zombies. (As if dealing with zombies wasn’t enough!).

I’ve been catching up on viewing episodes of Intelligence on CBS and last night came across, you guessed it, a plague episode. Incredible.

Obviously, television writers know what works and what really scares us: the flu. Moreover, it’s a sense of being helpless in the face of death. It’s an oft-tested and proven storyline, so why try to come up with something more original?

Got writer’s block? Just pull out the plague story.

Gack! That kind of lazy writing just makes me sick.