Last night was the mid-season premiere of The Walking Dead.

Despite the first episode of season 7 being as gruesome as it was, and it turning a lot of people off from the show I think that this has been the best season of the show so far.

But all the episodes in season 7 have one thing in common that brings up the question, “Does the show even need to have walkers anymore?”

WARNING: This post will spoil the main walker encounter in episode 709 of The Walking Dead.
I will NOT spoil any story points from the episode.

The thing that I have noticed in every episode of season 7 of The Walking Dead so far is that there is only one real walker encounter in the episode, and in almost every case that walker encounter can be removed from the episode without incident.

In some cases the encounter with the walker is even ridiculous and pointless.

We will see a character or group of characters get overrun by zombies when there is no way in hell they would get overrun so easily. Zombies show up and suddenly everyone is a klutz.

For instance when Tara and Heath come across a big pile of sand that has walkers buried in it. A walker is barely scraping at Tara’s leg, yet she is having trouble standing up. The sand pile shifts and all of a sudden there are walkers on every inch of the bridge? They didn’t even have a chance to run the opposite direction?

Nope. They are instantly surrounded and Tara falls off the bridge while Heath runs away and can’t even help her because there are so many zombies around.

It has gotten to the point where I zone out at the zombie encounters. I am more interested in what is going to happen between Negan and Carl. What will happen to Eugene at the Saviors camp? Will Carol ever get back to her badass self and help to fight against Negan?

Last nights episode could be considered “slow” by some fans. There was a lot of setting up the second half of the season. In fact, the zombie encounter on the highway was the only real action in the whole show. The horde walking toward Rick and Co. while they tried to disarm the booby trap led to a greater sense of urgency than being caught by the Saviors.

But again…that walker scene, as badass as they made it, could have been left out and the episode would still be a great episode. I think the ease with which Rick and Michonne ran through a crowd of undead and jumped in the car to get away even made it a little ridiculous.

I get it. The undead adds tension and another obstacle that characters have to overcome. But some episodes of The Walking Dead play out like, “oh yeah, we are a zombie show so we better put zombies in here somewhere.”

 Now, if you think The Walking Dead is about zombies then you haven’t been paying attention for the last seven seasons. The Walking Dead is about the characters. The show has viewers connecting to its characters like very few shows do. It has story arcs and character development that keeps you engaged and invested in the story.

And that is why I love the show.

But seriously…if the undead population thinned out significantly and we never had a serious encounter with a walker again, the show would still have the same engaging and entertaining story lines that it has now.

So does The Walking Dead even need zombies anymore?