Warning this article will have spoilers for THE WALKING DEAD’S episodes 8 and 9.

So I was watching episode 8 of THE WALKING DEAD last night. What a grand midseason finale huh? And before we go any further I want to apologize for our lack of WALKING DEAD articles. I know you guys crave my half-assed analysis and I’ve failed you. (The dialogue in that scene is fantastic isn’t it?)

Anyways, the revelation that Carl got bit is my favorite moment of the whole freaking series. You guys, I’m cereal. I don’t think I’ve been more cereal of anything in my damn life. Other than that icing on top of the cake, this episode was great. It had action, suspense, drama, and it did precisely what a midseason episode was supposed to do. It left you begging for the next episode.

THE WALKING DEAD Midseason Finale

While researching and going over my notes in prep for a midseason review, a thought occurred. Okay let’s be honest, I was just watching the moment where Carl reviled his bite over and over. It seems to me that midseason finales are starting to affect how television shows are written.

MidSeason Finale
Best part of the season right there

Television shows, whether comic book-related or not, never used to have “midseason finales,” right? This is a relatively new phenomenon. One that Wikipedia (we use only the finest sources at ComicsVerse) claims started in the mid-2000s. Now while Wikipedia has shown us that the motives of such a move are largely financial (sweeps, no one is watching TV over the holidays, etc.), the effects of these breakups are incredibly beneficial for the writers of these shows.

Think about it like this…

If you’re writing a sequel or a film franchise, you get the benefit of writing a story that you know will have the opportunity to breathe. People will have the opportunity to rewatch it. They’ll have chances to go back and find things that they missed. They will have the opportunity to speculate about whats going to happen. And you as a writer will be able to write in such a way that you include all of these little details and build up anticipation for the next film.

In TV, that is still done, but, it was on a much smaller scale. You have a lot of episodes back to back to back. They fit in a specific time frame of half hour, an hour. Not to mention they are broken up into segments for commercials. Generally, writing in such a nuanced sort of way is a harder thing to do.

Now here comes the idea of a “midseason finales.” Writers of the shows now have a bit more freedom in how they write their scripts. They can write without having to make sure the viewer’s attention is locked on to every little detail every single week.  They can even afford to write about things they know won’t even be referenced to two weeks later, knowing that people can just go back and view it later.

How Is The Introduction Of Midseason Finales Manifesting Itself?

So how do we see these new opportunities (or parameters) manifesting themselves into today’s shows? Well, a great example of this is THE WALKING DEAD. A show that does literally everything that I wrote about just now. Hell, this is a show that will not even show certain characters for weeks at a time. This is because they know that people will be able to go on their Roku, or their Amazon Fire and rewatch the episodes with those characters in them.

This leads to arches getting more convoluted and longer, and hence TV shows are starting to become more like drawn out films. How you say? Structurally, think about it in terms of one of the greatest film franchises ever, the STAR WARS prequels. Just kidding, we’ll stick to the original trilogy (in a very distorted way).

The STAR WARS Story

When we first begin Lukes journey, he’s chilling, then his aunt and uncle get killed over some blue milk. So he gets all pissed off and decides to go and wreck the greatest technological advancement in the galaxy at the time.

After that, he finds out that the pedophile who runs the galaxy is using his own dad as his gimp and decides to save his gimp dad, only for the pedophile to take an interest in him. Then they fight with laser swords, and the gimp dad throws the pedophile down a shaft, thus fulfilling a green man’s prophecy. Okay clearly that’s not how it happened, but if you need me to tell you what happens in STAR WARS, you need to go out and see it.

MidSeason Finale

But seriously, if you were to look at the films as a season on TV, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK would be the midseason finale. You’ve established the characters and their motivations for the season.

Then shit goes haywire, like what happened with the WALKING DEAD’s episode 8. Now you are waiting to see how the characters respond and if that response is good enough for them to succeed. Personally, watching Carl die next episode will be more than good enough for me, but I digress.

Midseason Finales: The End

So to sum it all up, midseason finales are starting influence how Television shows are written. That’s funny, considering it seems to me that films are beginning to become what TV once was. Easy to follow plots, short bursts of dialogue and one-dimensional characters. This, of course, is because films are having to cater to millennials.

This is, of course, because we don’t have any attention span in the first place. Anyways, while this change might go unnoticed to some, what has become apparent to many is the quality of these programs has shot up tenfold. Wheather this is because there are so many places that are actively looking for original content, one thing is for certain, midseason finales are something that is undoubtedly contributing and should be here for the foreseeable future.

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