Losing Juan Javier Cardenas (Dante) from The Walking Dead’s cast did not enhance the series or provide any kind of spirited epiphany, not even a good Deus Ex Machina. It was just a waste of potential of one of Season’s 10’s most charismatic bright spots.
This article contains spoilers for The Walking Dead’s mid-Season 10 finale.
For as much as The Walking Dead bathes in the term ‘delayed gratification’ and takes almost a schadenfreude-like approach to stretching plot lines to the brink… They simultaneously eliminate their most intriguing characters like Dante on a whim or lock them away from screen time in narrative jail ala Negan. What purpose did Dante’s death serve during TWD Season 10 midseason finale? For Gabriel to revive a relationship side plot with Rosita that most fans realistically forgot about by now?
All it did was snuff out the candle of this season’s most charismatic new on-screen addition for two seconds of shock value. What could have been the closest thing to a Merle-like character is in the ground, six feet under, to progress yet another convoluted romance storyline. Let’s face it, Ole’ Gabey isn’t Rosita’s first boyfriend and he certainly won’t be the last. She’s been ‘getting over’ Abraham for quite a while now. Every other episode, Rosita looks like she’s in love with a different member of her reverse harem. Might as well spin a wheel to figure out who’s the next sucker.
Meanwhile, Dante had an endless well of potential as his disposal. From if he really had a son or not, military background, to his Whisperer attraction. Most importantly, actor Juan Javier Cardenas knew how to sell a scene. How to make Dante standout and steal the moment. Him being a doctor added to the question of possible no-choice necessity similar to Pete Anderson. There were so many different directions to take his character to, he could have been more than the traitor who took out Siddiq. One of the few times The Walking Dead should have held back, they go full force. Reminiscent of the loss of Jessie Anderson [Alexandra Breckenridge] in Season 6 of the show.
This goes back to the decision to take out The Governor. It’s okay not to fully eliminate a character through death and just have them escape for a while, instead of losing another quality actor. Maggie Greene received such a temporary exit when Lauren Cohan moved to another project. Recognize your roster, so you’re not left with storylines your audience isn’t that immersed in at the expense of ones they are into.
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