'The Walking Dead': It may be time to start exploring 'what-if' stories of the survivors
With the show having almost caught up to its source material, what-if stories might be a great way to revitalize the show
Spoilers for 'The Walking Dead' Season 1 Episode 13 'What We Become'
10 seasons is a long time for a show to be on the air, even with a wealth of source material to pull from. Though it has veered away from the comic in many ways, the major story arcs of the series still follow the comic book. The comic book ended not long after the Whisperers arc, but the show may continue past them and it's going to have to find all new stories to tell.
In the latest episode of 'The Walking Dead,' there is an extended sequence in which a drug-induced hallucination shows Michonne (Danai Gurira) what her life would have looked like if she hadn't met the survivors and joined hands with Negan, instead. It's a fascinating look into just how different a person she could have been, but for the most simple of circumstantial changes. It was all a dream, of course, but it still made for a very compelling watch and maybe we need more of them.
Of course, we're not saying that everyone ought to drink hallucinatory drugs one episode at a time, but what-if stories can do a LOT to revitalize the show. We've already talked about how a back-to-basics approach has given us one of the strongest episodes of Season 10 and what-if stories allow a chance for the show to do exactly that. It's a chance to mix nostalgia with something new and to remind older audiences about what made them fall in love with the show in the first place while welcoming new audiences with stories not so laden with 10 seasons worth of canon.
How they achieve this without completely abandoning the story of the present would be challenging, but not impossible. It can be just as challenging for a show to remain fresh after 10 seasons, so it's certainly not an idea to be dismissed. 'What We Become' shows how strong the concept is and the format would allow for a singular focus on characters again. They would be something akin to the flash-sideways of 'Lost,' but without the time travel/afterlife aspect that made the show confusing. In fact, by changing certain events from the source material, fans of both franchises are already enjoying a what-if effect from the show.
There are a lot of questions that have grabbed the attention of the audience. How stories began. How stories end. One of the most intriguing questions of all, even if it's never fully answered, is the question of what might have been. As 'The Walking Dead' marches on with no signs of slowing down, that's certainly a question that's worth looking into.
The next episode of 'The Walking Dead' airs March 29 on AMC.