It Was All a Dream. There is no worse trope in all of fiction.
The It Was All a Dream trope is used primarily by lazy writers who’ve managed to concoct a titillating, intriguing set-up for a storyline, but who can’t be bothered to come up with a solid resolution.
Far too often in modern storytelling, this trite, overused cliché will be taken advantage of so that writers can do whatever they want with a TV show without actually having to explore the consequences of the story’s events, or the set-up that led to that point in the narrative.
With the most recent episode of “The Walking Dead”, an otherwise poignant scene is ruined by the It Was All a Dream trope. Spoiler alert: turns out the flash-forward visions of an old, bearded Rick in a future utopia that we’ve been seeing all season weren’t real premonitions after all, but rather an imaginary future concocted by Carl, which he shares with his dear old dad in his final moments before death.
Essentially, Old Man Rick Was All a Dream. This stinks.
This kind of storytelling is insulting to audiences. The show has been leading us on all season, promising something that the writers never had any intention of delivering on. AMC got to heavily promote some kind of major shakeup without ever having to follow through on their claims.
At the same time, this has managed to rob Carl’s death of much of the weight it should have carried. The show is so caught up in spectacles and revelations that it can’t pause long enough for Chandler Riggs to have the send-off he deserves.
Perhaps there’s a degree of frustration baked into this episode, knowing that Riggs was essentially fired from the show despite being told that he had a job for years to come (and therefore making college plans around his responsibilities on “The Walking Dead”). Either way, though, his character’s death scene feels a little crowded thanks to the big revelation that, psyche, the most interesting stuff from season eight has all been imaginary.
Now, any and all credibility “The Walking Dead” might have been clinging onto is gone. Anything could happen at this point – we might as well see Rick Grimes fighting a dragon for all the logic or sense the story will make. The showrunners can simply peel back anything they want and throw it into the garbage because it’s a lie.
Perhaps we’ve been at this point for a while. Glenn’s first “death” was a deliberately fishy scene, proving that perhaps “The Walking Dead” has always been a bit too reliant on shock scenes that aren’t actually what they appear to be.
But, then, there’s a reason why people have been losing interest in the show. Stunts like this make watching “The Walking Dead” annoying, rather than rewarding, and it’s only a matter of time before even more viewers give up on the series altogether.