Everyone say hello to Negan, our latest Walking Dead big bad, who was finally introduced in last night’s very average, very irritating season finale of “The Walking Dead.” God, the second half of this season six has been a slog, hasn’t it? The Saviors went from hilariously inept and idiotic to unbelievably strategic and organized. Rick went from totally up his own ass in terms of his confidence level to quivering mess, kneeling before the Saviors in a moment of ultimate submission. And someone died, but we don’t know who, because “The Walking Dead” refuses to trust its audience to keep watching.
That fake-out cliffhanger was the goddamn worst thing this show has done since Glenn’s fake-out cliffhanger death however many weeks ago, and if your patience hasn’t already worn thin by this kind of lazy storytelling, then you are a more devoted “Walking Dead” viewer than I. I cannot even anymore.
“Last Man on Earth” was basically split into two storylines: that of Rick and Co. trying to get the ill Maggie to the Hilltop doctor and realizing that they’re surrounded and trapped by the Saviors, who finally bring out Negan (admittedly, wonderfully played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, one-time Watchmen Comedian and onetime Thomas Wayne, daddy to Batman); and that of Carol and Morgan, with the latter breaking his no-killing code to save his friend. Which, congratulations, “Walking Dead” writers. You made two of the show’s most interesting characters total caricatures of themselves, and then you threw in some guys wearing ninja-hockey-pads with LANCES to save them. That ACTUALLY HAPPENED.
What else happened in this season six finale? Let’s go over it. But quickly. Far more quickly than that terrible 93-minute running time.
+ “You want to make today your last day on earth?” Well look, Rick and Co. underestimated a villain. How surprising! How unexpected! Although honestly, the Saviors have been shoddily written since their introduction. At what point were we supposed to start taking the Saviors seriously? They went from being incompetent to tactical visionaries in the span of an episode, unleashing roadblocks, trapping the RV, setting the forest on fire, and capturing everyone IN THE SPAN OF A DAY. I have so many questions: If they had this many people, why didn’t Negan attack Alexandria earlier? Sure, it became personal when Rick killed their members, but it’s clear they knew about Alexandria for a while now – what kept them away? How did they get so organized? How did they know Rick and Co. were leaving Alexandria that day to take Maggie to Hilltop? How did they cut down and strip ALL THOSE TREES for their blockade?
We have to put some disbelief aside as viewers, of course, but jeez, the Saviors were lazy storytelling. And aren’t we tired of this cycle now? Rick is awesome, Rick gets undermined, Rick and Co. somehow triumph. Because no matter who dies – and I don’t think it’s a major character, because if it was, then the show should have bit the bullet and killed them this episode instead of drawing it out for next season – we know Rick will fight back. Probably with the help of Morgan, Carol, and those hockey-pad ninjas, and maybe with Tara and Heath, who are still out ranging and will probably come back to realize how in danger everyone else is.
But death-wise, my money is on Eugene – that farewell for him driving way in the RV was very drawn-out, no? – or maybe Abraham, who has suddenly decided that a baby with Sasha is a good idea. And who obviously must die, because anyone who plans for a better future dies. That’s just how it works in “The Walking Dead.” And yes, I know who dies in the comics at the hands of Negan, but I don’t think the show has the guts to make that choice. I just don’t.
And did anyone else notice how there seem to be WAY more minorities in this group of maniacal killers than there have been in any other group Rick and Co. has faced before? That was weird, right?
+ “I’m gonna die, so there’s nothing wrong with me anymore.” There is very little to say about this Carol storyline, right? How utterly the writers have undermined her is VERY ANNOYING, and her explanations of why she can’t kill and why she deserves death are all poorly conceived. Melissa McBride is still doing great work in this role, but having Carol lie down and let that Savior shoot her because she doesn’t think she’s suffered enough? Shut up. That is not character development, that is character abandonment. And Carol deserves better.
But hey, at least Carol’s death wish has Morgan killing again! Because of course her pain should galvanize him. Also, if the hockey-pad ninjas have a doctor who can cure Carol’s multiple gunshot wounds, then that doctor can probably figure what’s wrong with Maggie and her and Glenn’s baby, right? Because you know these storylines will somehow cross each other next season. You just know it. And whether I’ll be there watching, well, that’s another story.
Some odds and ends:
+ Rick does very few things right, but Andrew Lincoln’s delivery of “I don’t have to kill any of you … any more of you” was straight excellence.
+ I guess saving a girl you like by locking her in a closet is supposed to be a romantic gesture, but goddamn, Carl. I hope Enid never talks to you again. (Although did anyone else think he was going to kiss her in the beginning of their argument? That would have been intolerable.)
+ I REALLY LIKED Father Gabriel’s pretty forest green cardigan sweater. How are his clothes so pristine and everyone else in Rick and Co.’s crew is grimy and gross? Is he the only one with a washer/dryer combo? Serious question. Also, Seth Gilliam is great, and his awkward-but-genuine line delivery of “My first priority is Judith. I will not fail you. Are you comfortable leaving me in charge of Alexandria’s defense?” gave me joy.
+ Remember when Rick’s horse in Atlanta attracted the walkers and was feasted upon? How is the ninja guy’s horse, the one that Morgan finds, not attracting walkers in the same way? Be consistent in your storytelling, “Walking Dead” writers! Goddamn!
+ A la “fetch,” “just survive somehow” is not going to happen. Please stop trying to make it happen.
+ “What the bitch?” Thanks, Abraham.
+ Who honestly thought that Dwight had killed Daryl? Get out of here.
+ “I believe in you, Rick.” Sorry, I just died from scathing laughter, don’t mind me.