[major spoilers for The Walking Dead’s season finale]
What the monkey-lovin’ hell did I just watch? Honestly. HONESTLY! Was that a season finale? Oh, Walking Dead! Why do I keep letting you fail me over and over?
What a mess, y’all.
This episode was a meandering, pointless, boring hour and fifteen minutes of television followed by an overly-long monologue delivered by a fantastic actor, and then the stupidest cliffhanger to ever happen. Honestly “Who Shot JR?” was a joyride in comparison.
The episode picks up with the group readying Maggie for a journey to Hilltop and the OBGYN there. Apparently EVERYONE needs to go, and by the time they all gather into the RV, pretty much the only named characters left in Alexandria are Father Gabriel, Spencer, Enid (who Carl locked in a closet), and baby Judith.
Morgan is out looking for Carol. He finds her, and poor Lennie James and Melissa McBride are forced to play out the same tired script they’ve been rehashing since the mid-season premiere. They’re too good for this nonsense.
They’re rescued by the horse guy from last week, so it’s a good thing Morgan didn’t let Rick kill him.
Meanwhile, Sasha, Abraham, Eugene, Rick, Carl, Aaron, and Maggie are driving around in the RV trying to find a route to Hilltop. The Saviors have every road blocked in various ways: trucks and men, a line of walkers, a giant bonfire of trees.
They make a plan for Eugene to take the RV as a sort of misdirect while everyone else carries Maggie to Hilltop. The group is making its way through the woods when they hear the Saviors’ whistle.
Okay, y’all. Who ARE these guys? I get blocking the roads; that’s just a matter of maps. But they knew exactly where to find them in woods?
There’s a huge group of Saviors waiting for them, and after they reveal a captured Eugene, Rosita, Daryl, Glenn, and Michonne, Negan finally makes his first appearance.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan is perfect for this role, but they made a mess of this whole thing. He had this ridiculously long-ass monologue about the “New World Order” and then does Eenie Meenie Miney Moe to decide who he’s going to kill.
It keeps going. And going. And GOING.
I know their purpose was to build tension, and as usual Bear McCreary’s score was spot-on, but by this point the whole thing was just exhausting. After two to three draggy filler episodes, then the previous hour of draggy filler, I really just wanted to see who was going to die and watch everyone’s reactions to it.
Of course. Haha. Silly Meg. We didn’t get to see who dies. The whole thing was shot from the character’s POV. There was even blood dripping down the lens. And then of course fade-to-black with the sound of Lucille smashing down on someone’s head.
My friend and I usually talk the episode over afterwards, and she pointed out how the cliffhanger completely guts the emotional impact of the death. That, combined with Rick’s group’s recent Savior murder spree, makes the whole thing a little…flat.
I know it’ll be upsetting next season when we find out who it is, but at the same time. That’s 7 months. A 7-month wait. Can we all really stay hyped up that long? Especially with the way on-set rumors circulate these days.
And why did they make Negan so damn likable? Even if you don’t like him, you can sort of understand why he’s doing what he is. Rick’s people killed dozens of Saviors. Negan’s responding by killing one of theirs. Those seem like kinda fair odds when you think about it. The whole setup was different in the comics, and Negan’s act was an unprovoked declaration of war. That’s more sensible villain behavior.
I know I’ll be back next season, because I’m a sucker, but the last bit of this season was exhausting. Denise’s pointless, stupid death. Carol’s rushed arc. Morgan completely wasted. The characters’ ridiculous decision-making. Warrior Rick. And, of course, the awful cliffhanger.
Scott Gimple attempted to justify it on Talking Dead (transcript via EW):
I would say, when they opened up the hatch [on Lost], we had to wait and see who was in the hatch. I liked thinking about that. I liked talking about it. … We have to do an episode that justifies it to you. We have to do something so great and so intense that you’re like ‘Okay, all right, fair play.’ That’s the challenge we have and we’re going to do it. We’re going to deliver you something fantastic. … We want you to be one of those people in that lineup. We want you to feel that suspense and that terror and that pain, and we’re going to deliver you a story next season that justifies it.
He also mentioned the infamous Star Trek episode where Riker fires on the Borg with Locutus (aka, Captain Picard) on board, but that bit wasn’t included in the transcript and I don’t feel like watching it again to get the exact wording.
My immediate reaction was something like, “How dare you compare your nonsense to one of television history’s greatest cliffhangers??” Gimme a break. And, uh, the Lost hatch cliffhanger was awful. Everyone hated it, myself included. There was nothing “so great and so intense” in the hour preceding that cliffhanger to justify it. There was no suspense, terror, or pain. There would have been those things if we’d seen the death, but as it was, it was one major cliffhanger too many. After the Glenn thing earlier in the season, plus the Daryl-getting-shot tease last week, combined with how this show just looooooves to drag things out with cliffhangers…
This show has so much potential, and it seems like every time we get a glimpse of it, it all goes belly up.
Episode Grade: ugh. D. I guess? I don’t know. I’m so tired of this show.
Images courtesy of AMC