Is The Walking Dead Misusing Flashbacks In Season 5?


I’m a huge fan of The Walking Dead.  Season 5 of the show came out of the gate running with the escape from Terminus, The Hunters tracking the survivors, and then the big fight at the church.  Since then, The Walking Dead has slowed to almost a halt with two episodes that focused on the storylines of one character each, with episode 4 telling Beth’s story and episode 5 focusing on Abraham.

In the first episode of The Walking Dead’s fifth season, there were a couple flashbacks to help show folks the backstory of Gareth in Terminus.  They were short segments that interrupted the flow of the show and added little to the final characterization of Gareth since everyone just saw him as a ravenous cannibal.

I didn’t care for those flashbacks at all.  As a matter of fact, I felt that the episode would have been stronger if they hadn’t been included at all.  But I kept going on in the series hoping that more episodes in season 5 of The Walking Dead wouldn’t follow suit.

Then episode 5 came and really broke up what could have been a great story about Abraham’s history by breaking watered down chunks of the story from the comics into bite size pieces and spreading them out throughout the episode.

What was the point in AMC’s The Walking Dead trying to tell this compelling story if they were just going to weaken the major punches by not letting viewers experience them in a way that they can understand more clearly?  Heck, even a nightmare sequence from Abraham where he wakes up and talks to Rosita about what happened would have been a better way to present his story.  Instead, us viewers were left with an episode that I feel didn’t even come close to meeting the standards of the well written comics.

From the looks of the Consumed sneak peeks, it appears as though The Walking Dead will be utilizing the same kind of choppy flashbacks in that episode as they have from the earlier episodes of the season.  When done properly, a flashback can add context to a moment to make it more powerful. When done poorly,flashbacks can interrupt the flow of a show and take viewers right out of the moment.

I’m personally hoping Consumed does a MUCH better job on flashbacks than Self Help did.

A friend of mine told me that this kind of storytelling through chopped up flashbacks was very effective in the insanely popular television series “Lost”.  Now, I’ve never actually seen an episode of that show, but if the episodes of of that program are put together the way that some of these season 5 episodes have been, then the show probably earned its name by from the viewers that are trying to follow along.

Hopefully not all viewers of The Walking Dead get “lost” in the flashbacks like some of the meaningful content of the show has.

Next: What scene almost got Self Help pulled from AMC by the censors?

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