Abraham Ford actor Michael Cudlitz doesn’t mince words about his former show.Credit: AMC
FormerThe Walking Deadstar Michael Cudlitz, better known to fans of the show as Abraham Ford, has some harsh words for the show he used to be a part of. Abraham met his end alongside Glenn (Steven Yeun) when Negan took his bat Lucille to both their skulls at the beginning of Season 7. In retrospect, it was a pretty good time to leaveThe Walking Dead.
It was the beginning of the end for AMC’s zombie drama, at least until its surprising revival in Season 9 under the welcome stewardship of new showrunner Angela Kang. But the sad fact remains: Seasons 7 and 8 were horrible, no good lousy seasons of television that made so many poor choices I couldn’t list them all if I tried.
And the show has suffered for it, with ratings collapsing even as it finally drags itself back from the brink. Indeed, both myself and my colleague Paul Tassi agree that Season 9 is one of the best so far (we talk at length about this in ourWalking Deadpodcast here.)
In any case, I’m not alone in thinking the past two seasons were hot garbage. Abraham actor Michael Cudlitz had some choice words recently for the show and its lead protagonist, Rick Grimes. Speaking at the Atlanta Walker Stalker Con, Cudlitz laid down some hard truths:
Lets be real clear, if he was gonna kill anyone other than me and I had a choice, it would be Rick. Because how many more people was that ahole gonna get killed? Cudlitz said, according to ComicBook.com.And while the audience was apparently shocked by this statement, he’s not wrong. Rick led his people into one disaster after another. This started long before the disastrous Negan storyline, but Rick reached new heights of recklessness and stupidity as the show’s writing quality plummeted.
The Walking DeadCredit: AMC
Hey, I got a plan, lets show up to where all the Saviors are with 500 weapons, have them step 15 feet out into the balcony unarmed, and shoot the windows out above his head. You all know that sucked […] It was like the A-Team showed up.”
Apparently at this point the actor started “miming stray firing before imitating the showy Savior leader.”
Cudlitz again, mocking the terribleness of this scene which, if Rick had simply shot Negan when he first swaggered out the door, would have put a blessed end to this whole nonsensical plot:
Hes right there! Hes right there! He walks out the door. Its not even like he peeks out. Hes like Well, Rick! Ha ha ha! We better run!
This is all too hilarious to me, as it really brings me back to my own review of that episode:
Earlier, in Rick’s speech, he made clear that only one Savior had to die: Negan. (They go and kill several lookouts right after that speech, so it’s more like “only five people have to die” but who’s counting?) And who should walk out onto his doorstep in plain view of all these heavily armed rebels? Who gives them all the perfect chance to take him out then and there? Who swaggers like he’s the king of all he sees, never once worried that maybe Rick had given orders to shoothim on sight?
If you guessed Negan, you win.The Big Badwalks right out there like he hasn’t got a care in the world. He’s soon followed by his lieutenants, including the coward, Eugene, and the traitor, Dwight. It turns out, he had nothing to be afraid of. Despite being heavily armed, despite having multiple weapons with scopes and a clear shot, despite coming to do this very thing, nobody opens fire on Negan. Why?
This is one of those incredibly frustrating moments that have come more and more to defineThe Walking Dead.Because there’s really no good explanation as to why nobody shoots Negan the moment he showed his smug face. There’s no reason one of the dozens of rebels couldn’t have popped him at such close range.
I should point out that Rick also had snipers that expertly took out the Savior lookouts just before all this (so more like 7 or 8 people had to die, just none of them ended up being Negan because Rick eventually spared him out of mercy moments after murdering other Saviors who had helped him.)
In any case, it’s quite hilarious to see Cudlitz lay into the show with such naked honesty. Season 8 was just so horrendously awful it very nearly killed the show entirely. For instance, that Season 8 premiere review I linked to up above? That got 424,000 views. My Season 7 premiere review got over 700,000 views. Fast forward to my Season 9 premiere review? 125,000 views, and a steady drop in views ever since.
This isn’t just people not watching the show the night of, it’s people running for the hills. And it’s come to this because nobody at AMC had the nerve to step in and save the show from its incredible mismanagement, terrible writing and lousy direction. I’m not sure where all the blame should sit, and I’m sure fingers could point in many directions, but it’s still baffling just how bad it got, and how much better it’s gotten thanks to Angela Kang’s new leadership.
Another actor present at the convention was Josh McDermitt who plays Eugene and who, as insane as this sounds, probably had the most interesting arc in Season 8, mostly demurred: I disagree, only because Im still on the show and like my job, he said.
Perhaps the most important quote from Cudlitz, or at least the one that speaks to me the most, is this:Its like one of those things where youre so into something and then youre like, really, guys? Cudlitz said. I get pissed off because I love it.
I’ve received so much anger and hate fromThe Walking Deadfans who said that I was trying to ruin their beloved show, when the whole time I was the one raising the red flags, saying “Really guys?”because I am a fan.I am a critic, yes, and it’s my job to point out when a show goes astray like this. I feel like finally in Season 9, many of my criticisms of the show have finally been heard and we’ve seen a remarkable uptick in quality. That’s fantastic! (Though now I’m being accused of having turned into a shill or, worse, a taking bribes to say nice things about the show because that’s the sad truth about fandom. If you say something critical you’re a monster and if you say something nice you’re a patsy. Oy vey.)
In any case, bravo to Michael Cudlitz for speaking out. I still wish he’d been the choice for theFear The Walking Deadcrossover, but I think he dodged a bullet there. Or a bat, as the case may be.
As a side note, I think Rick getting killed at the beginning of Season 7 would have been an amazing creative decision and would have, potentially, made for a much more interesting story arc for all involved. Oh well.
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Reviewed and Recommended by Erik Baquero