The Walking Dead Proves Its New Spinoff Can Actually Work

This is promising for the forthcoming spinoff, Tale of the Walking Dead, because it reaffirms how good Walking Dead’s stories can be when they’re small, standalone episodes unconnected to the larger narrative. The current circumstances of The Walking Dead season 10 may be what send Gabriel and Aaron on their mission, but the story is one that could take place within practically any previous season. The ensuing conflict with Mays and the tragic reveal of how he tortured his brother is wrapped up, leaving no threads to be explored in future episodes. This is in contrast to both of the previous season 10 bonus episodes, which purposefully left certain elements (the Reapers, Leah) unresolved, teasing future developments. And that in itself isn’t bad for storytelling, but it can build false expectations and be resolved so much latter it no longer feels relevant. “One More”, on the other hand, is a self-contained story that takes its characters through a harrowing adventure without needing to payoff or setup anything else.

The Walking Dead has had standout episodes in the past whose stories were mostly separate from the season’s main story; season 4’s “The Grove” and season 6’s “He’s Not Here” are examples of some of the best. And what episodes like these have in common with season 10’s “One More” is that while they are usually unconnected to the bigger arc, they still explore an arc for the characters in the episode, leaving them changed by the end of it. “One More” does this by challenging Gabriel and Aaron’s faith in each other and the world at large, altering both of their perceptions through their experience with Mays. Stories like these are engaging no matter what else is happening on The Walking Dead, and sometimes even in spite of the larger narrative. And as that’s almost entirely what the anthology episodes of Tales will be, it’s a really good sign The Walking Dead still excels at this approach, suggesting the spinoff may deliver some of the best stories yet.

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