Negan, the scariest TV villain of all time, has turned ‘The Walking Dead’ into a slog

Inevitability doesn't make for great TV. That's what fans of "The Walking Dead" are finding out in this seventh season (which will resume Feb. 12). It began with a masterful (if utterly harrowing) episode: Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) viciously kills Glenn and Abraham. It was a carefully executed – no pun intended – episode that has informed every millisecond of Negan's screen time since then, especially when he has his barb-wire-laced baseball bat in hand: We wonder if he will cut loose again.

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The golden age of TV prequels: ‘Bates Motel,’ ‘Gotham’ and ‘Fear the Walking Dead’

At first blush, prequels should be a boring form of storytelling, because we already know the end point. Of course, there are many examples that prove out-of-sequence storytelling can work – the "Star Wars" prequels and "Smallville" have plenty of fans, for example. But three current series – A&E's "Bates Motel," Fox's "Gotham" and AMC's "Fear the Walking Dead" -- have turned the prequel into an art form, garnering extra drama from the fact that the audience knows where the story is going.

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‘The Walking Dead’ goes back to the beginning of civilization

In my past posts about "The Walking Dead," I've analyzed how some communities stand as metaphors for forms of government – Woodbury as a fascist state, Terminus as a communist state, the Hospital as an autocratic state, and so forth. I may have jumped the gun, though, because now I think the show serves as an examination of how any modern civilized, organized society (as we know it) forms from the roots up. If modern civilization in 2016 can be boiled down to humanity's ongoing struggle to find a balance between killing for the sake of security versus not killing because all life has value, "The Walking Dead" is a beautiful, stripped-down metaphor for this struggle.

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‘The Walking Dead’ teaches us about the value of life

Sunday's episode of "The Walking Dead" featured cinematographically beautiful scenes of Morgan and his mentor, Eastman, practicing the martial art of aikido, along with powerfully acted moments of Morgan begging Eastman to kill him. But the most memorable part of the episode is Eastman's monologues, which -- taken together -- tell the story of how he learned to value all life.

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‘Fear the Walking Dead,’ ‘Strain’ villains want power for power’s sake

A couple seasons ago on "The Walking Dead," Rick and the gang agreed to march toward Washington, D.C., on Eugene's promise that there was a governmental structure in place working against the zombie plague. While the characters never spoke in-depth about the question of whether the government – which demonstrably failed to stop the zombie plague -- should be trusted, I felt strongly that once the gang got to D.C., they would not find a safe government-run utopia.

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First episode impressions: ‘Fear the Walking Dead’

For five seasons, "The Walking Dead" has revealed the flaws of societal structure through a world struggling to rebuild that structure. But we never saw the actual process of the stripping away of society. In the pilot episode, Rick wakes up from his coma post-apocalypse, and other characters haven't talked about the initial outbreak much, nor have we seen many flashbacks. "Fear the Walking Dead" (9 p.m. Eastern Sundays on AMC) is here to rectify that.

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For current popular TV shows, what’s the end game?

By their very nature, some shows have end games and some don't. A show about families and relationships, like "Parenthood," simply looks for a grace note (and it found a good one in its series finale in January); it's not as if it can end with everyone's life in a state of perpetual perfection. At the other end of the spectrum, a murder mystery like last fall's "Gracepoint" has a strictly defined finish line: "Who killed Danny Solano?"

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Have the communists won on ‘The Walking Dead?’ Not likely

In Sunday's episode of "The Walking Dead" (8 p.m. Central Sundays on AMC), Alexandria leader Deanna jokes to Rick "I guess the communists won." She offers Rick and Michonne the jobs of constables, which they accept, and says she's in the process of coming up with the ideal jobs for the rest of Rick's group. Upcoming episodes will tell us whether the show is attempting to make a serious statement about communism or if Deanna was merely throwing out a one-liner. But before we move forward, we should ask if Alexandria is a true representation of communism.

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Is ‘The Walking Dead’ embarking on a ‘Dark Rick’ arc?

Everyone is (rightly) reacting to the shocking end of Sunday's mid-season finale of "The Walking Dead," but the biggest moment in terms of reverberations for future stories might've happened before the opening credits. Bob No. 2 is running back to the hospital and doesn't stop when Rick orders it from the police car's loudspeaker. Rick rams Bob No. 2 with the car, then executes him in the street, following it up with an Eighties movie-style quip of "Shut up." It's a line that would make "Escape from L.A.'s" Snake Plissken proud -- "Nobody draw until this hits the ground." (He shoots everyone.) "Draw."

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‘Walking Dead’s’ ‘Slabtown’ delivers perfect treatise on evils of taxation

"The Walking Dead" (8 p.m. Central Sundays on AMC) rarely gets mentioned when lists of "most libertarian TV shows" are compiled, but that might change when the series ends and we see the full picture. Season 5 in particular seems to be embarking on multi-episode vignettes about various forms of government that could arise in makeshift towns in a zombie apocalypse, and their relative merits or lack thereof.

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