Ok, There are spoilers in this post so if you’re not caught up to the Mid Season Nine Finale then move along till you are.
Most television shows see an exodus of primary characters that normally signals the end of the series, especially one in its ninth season. Not the Walking Dead. In fact, the loss of a large number of central characters, often deviating from the comics the show is based on, seems to indicate some force is at work and it could be network driving the decision making.
Ross Marquand mentioned on the Talking Dead that the network had reviewed the footage of Arron’s reaction to Jesus’s death and suggested that Arron was not “emotional” enough. Marquand went on to say that was a good call and the scene played better. Hmmm…. in the past cast have stayed pretty far away from criticizing AMC or the Walking Dead overlords.
But then Tom Payne starting giving interviews telling quite openly that he had expressed in season 8 that he wasn’t happy with the way Jesus’s character was being handled… including the Gay Thing, Since Arron an Jesus are the only gay male characters hanging out in the apocalypse, it seems only logical that they would have hooked up, or, gasp, fallen in love. Arron’s last partner was a totally different type and, frankly, I found the Big Butch Arron and Twinkie Eric relationship a bit cliche. Jesus and Arron would have been a very interesting contrast, especially that Eric was quickly disputed to “mystery cast member.”
Then we have the departure of Rick and Maggie. We’re teased for months about Rick’s demise. They got us used to the idea that Rick was going to be killed. This was handled in much the way Negan’s head bashing to two strong characters to death. The audience felt satisfied. Andrew Lincoln has a very logical and repeated word for word in press accounts about being away from his family as his kids got older. UH…Ask any parent and this will tell you that it really doesn’t hold water unless your kid is on drugs and you have go back to be the babysitter parent. Consider this part of the statement “as they’ve gotten older, they’ve gotten less portable.” Um, as kids get older and hit teenage years they want to see the world. I’m sure relocating to the states and traveling the country is totally unattractive them. Right.
And speaking of teenage years, there was a big stink stirred up by Chandler Riggs father about Chandler’s departure. Carl has a much longer trajectory in the the comics. Everyone was behind the “it’s time for him to go to college” it seemed. Except Chandler has said publicly that he was surprised by the exit. Sure, some child stars do drop out of the acting scene to get their education in a traditional setting…..and some wait till they’re 23 to start and some take classes when not filming.
And now Lauren Cohan has disappeared with very little explanation. Yet, there were inklings of pay equity issues with Andy Lincoln and other male stars. So we have two big stars “taking a break” who worried about money, though guessed they had enough cash on hand. Then a kid who didn’t want to stay—but had a stage father that may have been a bigger issue than we realized. I get the feeling Chandler’s father was worrying about how soon the Walker Stalker appearances would diminish. Then you kill off Maggie’s right hand man at The Hill Top when a budding gay romance may have blossomed. I would love to have seen them arguing in bed about Jesus’s leadership style.
So–Three of the program’s main and highest paid actors have departed…. Ok, maybe Chandler was less expensive but he was going that way now that he’s an adult.
Oh and note to the producers…. I loved that you FINALLY went into DC. But you could have used a real DC street sign. Atlanta and DC both use the quadrant thing…but if you (or AMC) was so cheap that you couldn’t get a shot in DC then someone is pulling tight on the money and maybe even the content strings.