The Walking Dead “How Bad Was The Season 6 Finale?!” TV Chat

Abraham and Sasha - The Walking Dead

Wow. What a mess.

The Walking Dead aired their sixth season finale last night, and it ended with a ridiculous cliffhanger that was somehow able to thoroughly upset comic readers and non-comic readers alike. If you enjoyed it, or if you came out of that episode feeling anything other than cheated, then you’re a bad person and you should feel bad.

Where did it go wrong? I mean, the first few episodes of this season were pretty darn good! I reviewed this show weekly for TV Equals for a few seasons, until having a second baby and other factors came into my life and kept me from continuing, but I’d imagine that most of my reviews for these last eight episodes would have been favorable. The majority, in fact, were solid episodes with plenty of satisfying twists and developments. However, seeing how they ended the season really calls into question the validity of the entire season. Let’s look at all of the problems with this episode and, by extension, the problems for The Walking Dead as they head into their seventh season.

Negan:

Remember the very first scene from this half of the season? Way back in mid-January we had that really cool scene between Daryl, Abraham, Sasha, and that biker gang? We were about three minutes into this season when one of those bikers said: “Your property now belongs to Negan.” So right out of the gate they namedropped probably the biggest villain in The Walking Dead universe, and they knew back then that they weren’t even gonna show the guy until the finale! That’s unprecedented for this show, and just about every other show when you think about it. It isn’t like back in season three they talked about The Governor for eight episodes before he finally showed up. You saw the word Terminus before the city itself was introduced, but that wasn’t anywhere near as on the nose as this was. The only time they’ve ever teased a character like this was back in the season two finale when you see the outline of Michonne, but she wasn’t actually officially introduced until the next season. I don’t have anything against the idea of this long buildup to a character, but when they’re finally introduced, it really has to land. Did anybody really feel like that last scene was worth eight episodes of hype? Yeah, me neither.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan did a fine job as Negan. He’s a little too handsome and charming for the psychopathic character in my opinion, but he’s a good actor and he handled himself well. But then you hamstring the poor guy by shoehorning him into an overlong and repetitive episode, handing him a crazy long monologue to deliver, and then you steal all of his power by not even letting us see who he killed! Now that we’re talking about the final scene, let’s get to my biggest complaint…

The Ending:

I was as excited about every other comic fan that Negan was finally going to be introduced, and I was especially excited knowing that in the comics he kills one of the major characters right off the bat (pun intended). Unfortunately, they stole that moment from him (and from all other fans of the show), by not letting us see who it was! That’s eight episodes of buildup, eight episodes of the Saviors and Rick’s crew alike talking about this “Negan” guy like he’s the bogeyman, and then when he finally shows up you don’t even get to see what he did. Instead, you get that ridiculous POV shot and the blood starts trickling down the screen like I’m playing Goldeneye 64 again. There have been plenty of great TV cliffhangers, but you’ll notice that all of the good ones are actually showing you something important and then letting you stew on what that means for the next few months as you await the next episode. An old mantra that I saw repeated many times on Twitter last night is as follows: A bad cliffhanger will make you ask “what happened?” A good cliffhanger will make you ask “What happens next?”

The Saviors:

A lot of my frustrations with Negan stems from residual frustration with his group: The Saviors. These guys were just about as inconsistent as a group of bad guys could be. Remember earlier in the season when they were getting blown up by Daryl? Or when Rick and his group took out an entire compound of them without a scratch or a single fatality? Well, now these guys are apparently the most well-organized dudes in the world. They’re able to get the drop on Daryl not once, but twice, even though the guy is supposed to be an incredible tracker and outdoorsman. They’re able to head off every single road, outsmarting the (supposedly genius) Eugene in the process. They’re able to shepherd Rick’s group carrying the stretcher directly into the middle of a huge group of them using only their whistles!

All of this wouldn’t be so frustrating and ridiculous if the competency of Rick’s group didn’t swing just as dramatically. We were lead to believe that they’re very capable in their own right, but episodes like this one make it look like they can’t do anything! If they were stumbling from encounter to encounter, losing people along the way, then I might buy it. However, Rick’s competency and the Saviors’ competency varies drastically depending on what exactly the script wants them to do. It’s lazy writing and it drives me crazy.

The Rest:

Maybe all of this Negan stuff wouldn’t have been so frustrating if the rest of the episode was awesome, but that definitely wasn’t the case. I don’t buy Carol’s sudden change of heart at all. Her reasoning for abandoning her friends and family was that she was afraid she might have to kill in order to protect them. Really?! That’s really what we’re going with? You were killing Wolves attacking Alexandria not too long ago, but now you’ve had a change of heart? Are we supposed to believe that you feel this way because that freakin’ bratty kid changed your outlook on life and now you feel guilty because he got himself killed? Hey, remember when your husband beat you up? Remember when you saw your own daughter shot in the head? You were able to get past those experiences and use it and you’ve developed into an extremely competent killing machine and a very layered and interesting character. But now you’re leaving behind your family (along with a pregnant woman who needs protection!) because you’re having a crisis of conscience?! Grow up, Carol! If you want to keep from killing people, talk to Morgan! That dude’s all about non-lethal force, due process, blah blah blah. You can learn the bow staff or help him with his prison idea. But nah, better just ditch the only people in this world that you love and leave them with even less defense against the Saviors. Who, by the way, know where Alexandria is and are looking for revenge from the compound killings.

Carol would also know these people well enough to know that they would be sending even more capable fighters after her to get her back. So when you run away, you know that Daryl (at minimum) will be coming to find you as well. I’m sure she didn’t think that Michonne, Glenn, and Rosita would also tag along. Oh, and then all the rest of the major characters would all hop on an RV and leave Alexandria basically undefended. I guess you’ve got to make all of the characters bend over backward just to get to that fateful meeting with Negan. Where…nothing happened. The only person left at Alexandria with a confirmed kill on the show is Father Gabriel, who killed an unarmed Savior once. Good call, Rick. Better leave that guy as the sole protector of your daughter. Hopefully, when the Saviors come knockin’ they’ll just be kneeling unarmed in the middle of a field so ol’ Gabriel there can tell them a Bible verse before he shoots them.

I could go on, but why bother? The show probably got plenty of viewers regardless, and I’m sure they’ll be just fine in the fall. Hearing all of the defensive interviews that Scott Gimple and the rest of the cast and crew are giving today just affirms my belief that they are totally tone deaf and clueless as to the quality of the product that they’re putting out. As long as millions tune in, what’s the point in providing a good show, right? I guess it’s true, though. The Walking Dead has earned the right to do whatever they want. Sometimes I just wish that they wouldn’t.