It was the single worst episode of a television show that I have watched in 27 years of life.
That is not hyperbole. That is not bullshit. That is not even a slight exaggeration. That is the unquestioned, money back guarantee truth about season four, episode 13 of “The Walking Dead.” To call it an affront to television would be a compliment undeserved. The episode is the gunk that forms at the bottom of a toilet bowl that no steel wire brush or untold gallons of Clorox bleach can get rid of.
That’s why it’s time to ask the question: When do you give up on a TV show that you’ve already invested so much time into?
I’m not going to spoil last night’s episode for anyone–and truth be told, I couldn’t spoil it if I wanted to–but I will say it was crystal clear that the showrunners didn’t care about those 42 minutes of sewage they forced out of my television and into my eyes. I don’t think anyone can even convince me there was a script for last night’s episode. If you told me director Ernest Dickerson stumbled onto set in the throes of an original Four Loko hangover, picked cast members out of a hat and said, “Go talk until we tell you to stop,” I wouldn’t even question it.
Every show has the occasional filler episode. “Breaking Bad” had the fly episode. “Lost” had any episode that was centered around Kate and her backstory. “Mad Men,” “Sons of Anarchy,” and “Justified” have had them, too. The difference is that even those episodes were watchable, because you had a vested interest in the characters and where the story was headed.
If, on next week’s episode, everyone caught the bird flu and the jumped one by one off a cliff like dirty lemmings, would you care? Would the show be worse if the final two weeks of the season were just montages of walkers in old diners or an obscure Chuck E. Cheese’s, milling around and waiting for some poor bastard to stumble in?
The trouble with those questions is how hard they are to answer. The only reason last night’s episode didn’t make me quit outright was because I soldiered through 13 episodes worth of Herschel playing Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman on some rural Georgia farm while that asshole Carl ran through the forest with a capgun and oversized cowboy hat, and I’ll be damned if I bow out now.
Also, fuck Carl.
So I’m not quitting. Yet. But the seeds have been planted. I think I could walk away. I think I could lie to myself and say I’ll read a book on Sunday nights instead of watching charisma captain Rick Grimes and his merry band of sharpshooters trudge through Centralia. I’ll be back next Sunday. I can only hope the show follows the advice of Ben Affleck in “Boiler Room.”
Just don’t waste my time anymore.