Through the first four episodes, The Walking Dead's eighth season has been about three things: guns, guns and more guns.

The premiere found Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and the gang shooting up the Sanctuary with assault rifles. The second and third episodes found groups of survivors shooting up Savior outposts with assault rifles while Rick and Daryl (Norman Reedus) searched for more guns. In the waning moments of Episode 3, people from the Kingdom got mowed down with machine guns. In Episode 4, Rick and Daryl obtained those machine guns after a car chase in which they miraculously avoided getting shot by one of those machine guns, while elsewhere Carol (Melissa McBride) hid behind a pickup truck while Saviors shot at her with assault rifles. The ratatat of gunfire feels like it has replaced Bear McCreary's music as the show's score.

Which is fine, theoretically. This is not a critique of the show's politics (or lack thereof — it's a studiously apolitical show). The Walking Dead is a show that's uncommonly easy to decontextualize from the world at large and watch on its own terms. So in that spirit, this is a critique of how badly the show is using its guns considering how important those guns are to the story. There is no internal consistency to the gunplay in a way that makes suspension of disbelief impossible.

It's easy to say, "It's a show about zombies, who cares about it being realistic?" If that's what you're thinking, you need to stop and think with your whole brain. There's a difference between demanding realism and asking that a show keeps to the rules it has created. This is the same problem Game of Thrones had in Season 7, when it frustrated fans by throwing out established rules of time and geography. The Walking Dead isn't realistic and it doesn't have to be. But it can't be inconsistent to the point of incomprehensibility. It can't let its ridiculousness take viewers out of the show, where people are focusing on the bullets plinking harmlessly off the side of a pickup truck instead of the story.

Ross Marquand, <em>The Walking Dead</em>Ross Marquand, The Walking Dead

In Seasons 6 and 7, the ammo shortage was so severe that Eugene (Josh McDermitt) had to figure out a way to manufacture bullets. One of the main plots of Season 7 was tracking down enough guns to wage war. In Season 8, everyone has at least one gun and they all have enough ammo to shoot shots that aren't even meant to hit anything. It's like they've all activated an unlimited ammo cheat code in Call of Duty. People are just firing guns willy-nilly, holding assault rifles over their heads and firing blindly with no recoil.

The stuff with the .50 caliber machine gun was the worst of all. The gun was capable of blowing baseball-sized holes in people from a hundred yards away in one scene but didn't even dent the grill of a jeep from ten yards away in another. No reasonable person can watch that without rolling their eyes. That gun, which was mentioned by brand — the Browning M2 — in the show, is meant for piercing armored vehicles. You don't have to know that fact to think that lack of consistency is silly, but it adds to the sense of utter disregard for the audience's ability to suspend disbelief.

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If The Walking Dead is going to rely on gun battles for action in every episode, it should do them right. The sloppiness makes it seem like the people making the show don't care about world-building details, which is too bad, because they do. Every zombie, even if it's onscreen for a second, is perfectly crafted. It doesn't seem like too much to ask for that same level of care to be applied to making sure the gunplay makes sense. We're asking for plausibility, not realism.

It would be cool if in the second half of Season 8, Rick and the gang run out of ammo and have to figure out a different way to fight the Saviors. It would raise the stakes and introduce a sense of consequence the show's gunplay is currently missing. If you're not careful with your ammo early on, you have problems later. All this prioritization of guns gets flipped when they can't use them anymore, and then they have to rely on their wits to win, not their firepower. That way the show could skirt the issue of not knowing how to gun altogether.

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.