Below is a spoiler-filled discussion about the season 6 finale for The Walking Dead. If you have not see it yet and don’t want to ruin your viewing experience I suggest that you don’t read on past the image below. For anyone else, feel free to provide your own opinions in the discussion board at the bottom.
What. The. Hell. I don’t mind cliffhanger endings and for a season finale it’s almost expected, but this is a different animal entirely. The entire build-up during the second half of season 6 was the entrance of Negan and wondering who he was going to kill in Rick’s gang. The fact that they didn’t show who was killed was a gimmick, a total cop-out, and an overused device this season (adding to the cliffhangers of “Did Glenn really die?” and “Did Daryl just die?”). The finale would have been far more impactful if they ended by showing the mangled remains of a key character (it really has to be Daryl or Glenn for the desired OMG effect) and left the audience with their jaws agape saying, “Holy crap, this is an unwinnable situation they now face.” Instead the scene and emotional weight were completely shortchanged and we’re left to wonder “Who just died?” I hate the decision. It’s gimmick over story-telling and ruined what was otherwise a well done episode that slowly built the tension to what should have been the shows defining moment.
With my venting now out of the way, let’s talk about what worked for the episode. I liked the slow build up to the group being surrounded and finally coming face-to-face with Negan. I’ve seen many places online where fans complained the episode was boring and repetitive. It felt to me more like Rick’s insistence that his group can overcome any obstacle and always find a way, only to find their prospects getting worse and worse only to ultimately wind up in an unwinnable, hopeless situation. The various barricades, the chain gang (red rover) walkers depicting that their friends have already been captured, and their failed attempt to outsmart the Saviors by going on foot proved that Negan/the Saviors have numbers, are well equipped, and are better prepared and smarter than Rick and his group. It was a great way to establish them as a credible threat and I’m curious what steps Rick could possibly take to level the playing field or hope to combat them next season.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan was great as Negan. He was a charismatic and intimidating force that instantly made me understand why he has so many followers as well as many groups doing his bidding out of sheer terror. A testament to his acting ability is how he managed to walk the fine line between being a likable character despite being a despicable individual and how he managed to make lines like “pee-pee pants” not sound as ridiculous as it appears on paper. He’s a comic book villain to a tee, and he sold it. While I’m angry with the writers/showrunners for making more of an effort to trick the audience rather than simply telling a compelling story, his character and the Saviors have me interested in next season.
Less compelling, and simply used as a B-story so that we’d have something to cut to during the cat and mouse game, dealt with Morgan finding Carol. The dynamic between these two characters this season has been interesting. During the mid-season finale we saw the two ready to trade blows over a conflict of opinion about whether or not they should kill the captured Wolf. Since then Carol has encountered major inner turmoil seeing who she has become and who she’ll need to be in order to remain in Alexandria. She does not want to kill again and know that in order to keep the ones she cares about safe she’ll be forced to at some point. Her solution at the end of a previous episode was to run away.
Morgan and Rick followed after her last episode, and Morgan is still on her trail in the finale. When he finally catches up to the injured Carol she refuses to go back and can’t understand why Morgan doesn’t grasp her new worldview. It’s an interesting dynamic trading places, since Carol recently told Morgan that he’d have to leave because he was unwilling to kill and now he’s trying to bring her back because she ultimately left for that very reason. Following that confrontation, she escapes when he’s not watching and gets cornered and shot by the lone Savior that survived the encounter with her last week. She’s saved by Morgan who breaks his vow of not killing anyone in order to save Carol’s life. While it certainly added to the narrative of both characters, I found myself eager to get back to the inevitable confrontation between Rick’s crew and the Saviors.
What did you think? Did you like the slow build up of tension throughout the episode or were you bored and wishing they’d introduce Negan earlier? What did you think of Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan? Who do you think was killed at the end and does it bother you that we won’t find out for several months? What’s your opinion on the dynamic between Carol and Morgan? Share your thoughts in the discussion board below.