The Walking Dead Season 6 Finale “Last Day on Earth” Review (Season 6 Episode 16)

Previously on The Walking Dead . . .
Some of our survivors made reckless choices (ahem, looking at you Daryl and Carol) and in an effort to keep them from danger, other members of Team Family found themselves in precarious situations. Glenn and Michonne were captured by Dwight, who somehow proved to be a better tracker than Daryl. In an effort to save Glenn and Michonne, Daryl and Rosita were also caught and the episode ended with Daryl taking a shot in the shoulder from Dwight.

Rick and Morgan set out in search of Carol and Tobin, her new boo, curiously stayed behind. Morgan wisely sent Rick back to Alexandria and continued with the search. Upon arriving home, Rick did his best to remain stoic upon learning that Michonne, Glenn and Rosita had not returned from their trip to get Daryl.

Maggie got a new haircut and when we last saw her, she was in excruciating pain – not a good thing for an expecting mother so early in her pregnancy.

We entered the season finale, “Last Day on Earth,” with confirmation that the Saviors knew the location of the Alexandria Safe Zone (“ASZ”) and were looking to settle a score on behalf Negan.

Sooooo . . . That Happened
Let’s get right to it. From the start of the mid-season premiere, the writers did such a great job at building up Negan as this terrible threat looming over our favorite survivors in the ASZ. With each passing episode, fans (over) analyzed every detail of the show, with the hopes of figuring out who would be the “cost” paid for the group’s decision to take on the Saviors. We saw the survivors finally getting a chance to relax behind the secure walls of Alexandria and contemplate what they wanted for their lives moving forward. For some, it meant finding love. For others, it meant pouring the Bisquick and making some pancakes. Not everyone was full of hope, as we saw the weight of survival finally take its toll on Carol. Daryl was not exactly a ray of sunshine after the deadly attack by Negan’s group in the mid-season premiere. His frustration with the human threat worsened after Dwight killed Denise with his crossbow.

The stories of Negan and the interactions with the Saviors helped create a sense of dread, as it looked like Team ASZ was enjoying the calm before the storm. The storm finally arrived last night and boy was it impressive. Jeffrey Dean Morgan was a brilliant casting choice for Negan. Negan, with his 10 minute monologue, made a frightening entrance on the screen that ended with him beating a member of the group to death with his bat, Lucille. The writers had us all at the peak of fright – only to then let all of the air out of the room by ending the episode without revealing who lived their “Last Day on Earth.” I think we can safely assume that the folks left back behind at Alexandria, along with Carol and Morgan, did not meet the business end of Lucille. Granted, Season 7 could open up to reveal that the Saviors attacked Alexandria during the RV trip in which the group spent most of their time backing out of road blocks created by the Saviors. I have no idea what’s next, other than one of the following people is dead: Eugene, Daryl, Rosita, Glenn, Michonne, Rick, Carl, Abe, Sasha, Maggie or Aaron. The now infamous comic issue (No. 100) in which Negan beats a member of the group to death does not end on a cliffhanger for those that are curious.

I’m a sucker for spoilers, so I knew before last week’s episode that the finale would end with a cliffhanger. Even knowing that, a part of me secretly hoped that we’d get a post-credit shot in which the victim’s identity was revealed on a Polaroid picture. Oh well. Does the cliffhanger ruin the finale? Not entirely. Up until the closing moment when the screen went black and the cliffhanger became official, “Last Day on Earth” was a suspenseful, entertaining finale with one of the best performances by the cast I’ve ever seen. So let’s make lemonade out of these cliffhanger lemons and revisit some of the finale’s strongest moments:

All Life Carol’s Life is Precious
After parting ways with Rick, Morgan continued in pursuit of Carol and eventually found her nursing a pretty bad wound. Morgan patched her up and tried to talk Carol into returning home to the ASZ. What did Morgan get in return for his efforts? A gun to the face from Carol, who implored him to leave her be. The writers are reaching saint-like levels with Morgan’s patience. Personally, I would have wished her well and returned home.

The Savior who survived the bloodbath on the highway last week caught up with Carol. After a few non-deadly shots, it looked like he was ready to walk away from her after he picked up on the fact that she had a death wish. That didn’t last long, as Carol began taunting him and just when it looked like Carol was about to meet her end, Morgan intervened. He tried, unsuccessfully, to talk to the Savior. When that proved unsuccessful, he killed the guy and told Carol it wasn’t her time. Shortly thereafter, the pair is approached by two men in the weird homemade armor that we saw last week. These two were clearly not Saviors, as they offered to help instead of offering a one-sided business arrangement in which Carol and Morgan “handed over their sh*t” in exchange for not being killed. I’ve got a pretty strong hunch about where Carol and Morgan are headed, but . . . comic book spoilers!

Overall, the stuff with Carol and Morgan was a bit of a mixed bag for me. As always, Melissa McBride and Lennie James were brilliant in their performances. I still just don’t quite follow some of the logic behind the character’s decisions. I understand that Carol was in a crisis and really needed to get away, but not going back to warn the ASZ that the Saviors knew where they were located and appeared to be headed in their direction was a frustrating character beat. Indeed, Carol killed the men that were en route to the ASZ, but she’s smart enough to know that there were more where they came from. I thought the conversation between Carol and Morgan was very repetitive, as she basically reiterated what we at home (and Morgan) already knew from her letter. I would have liked to see the two open up and discuss their shared experiences, as they both had the horrifying experience of losing their children to zombies. Morgan’s loss is particularly painful because he lost Duane due to a bite from his wife who he could not work up the courage to put down. Those frustrations aside, I’m interested to see what awaits Morgan and Carol on their journey. It will be interesting to see if they arrive at an established community and if so, if that community is also under the influence of Negan. Team ASZ definitely needs another ally. Speaking of which, I was a little disappointed that we did not get any more screen time with Jesus or the Hilltop community this season.

Worst Road Trip Ever
Back at the ASZ, the group rallied together to get Maggie on the RV and over to the Hilltop. In last week’s review, I expressed frustration with the writers having the group make questionable choices in dangerous times just for the sake of the plot. This entire road trip was just that.

Think about it – Carol left and Morgan went out after her. Tara and Heath are still out on their two week run. Daryl left with Rosita, Michonne and Glenn in pursuit. This group, made up of some of the strongest ASZ residents, had not yet returned. Maggie absolutely needed to get help and the group clearly recognized that they might be faced with a threat on the road. You can send some of your bad asses, but don’t send all of them. This is no slight to Father Gabriel who has unquestionably proven himself to be a great member of the community. But he is just one person. Enid is probably the next strongest member of the community left behind and she was locked in a closet! Spencer means well, but come on. He is not battle ready. Who was going to help Gabriel defend Alexandria? Olivia from the pantry who does not even notice when people (read: Spencer) steal snacks? Or Tobin, who could not even be bothered to join the search party for Carol? It made NO sense for all of those people to be on that RV. They had to be, of course, because the writers wanted them in place for the Lucille scene. There is no other logical explanation. You know what else made NO sense? Leaving behind your last RPG! It’s the great equalizer. We know there is at least one left, but the writers did not have this group of strong, smart people bring it with them because it would have been a serious complication in the Negan plot.

Those complaints aside, there were some really great moments on the road trip – many of which were likely foreshadowing conflict between our favorite survivors as they face the fallout from someone’s dance with Lucille. Michael Cudlitz was in rare form as Abraham. I loved the Abe-isms, as well the moment in which he told Sasha that he would totally be up for pouring some Bisquick and making some pancakes with her. Like this relationship, this felt kinda out of left field, but I can somewhat understand the sense of urgency that the zombie apocalypse creates. Granted, the Bisquick chat also made me really worry about Abe’s future on the show. It totally felt like one of those grand epiphanies that usually precedes a fall. Cudlitz was also really great in capturing Abe’s assessment of the situation, as the group was met with obstacle after obstacle courtesy of the Saviors. Initially, Abe was confident and spoke of the Saviors’ antics as though they were a minor nuisance. After about the third roadblock, Abe still spoke confidently, but his face told a different story. I loved that. And then there’s the Andrew Lincoln of it all . . .

Can We Talk About Andrew Lincoln?
No matter how you felt about the cliffhanger, there is no denying that Andrew Lincoln gave his all to the finale. Granted, Lincoln appears to always give it his all, as does the rest of the cast, but his performance last night was so freaking good. In the build up of this conflict with the Saviors, we’ve seen Rick full of confidence and optimism about the group’s chances for success. We saw the first cracks in that confidence last week when Rick returned to the ASZ and Abe told him that Michonne had not returned yet. As Rick spoke with Spencer about telling the Saviors to wait for him if they arrived, it looked like he had regrouped and was focused on getting Maggie to the Hilltop. I loved the brief scene we got with Maggie and Rick, as the characters really don’t get a lot of opportunities to interact. I fear, however, that Maggie’s expression of faith in Rick will come up again in the fallout of Negan. Regardless of who is killed, Maggie will likely feel some ownership of the death because she took the lead in the discussions with Gregory. We also saw that she felt that it really was not her plan. For what it’s worth, I thought it was Daryl who made the offer to kill the Saviors first, but Rick is usually the whipping boy for the writers when things go wrong.

Lincoln was so great at depicting the transition of a man who started the trip full of confidence and then began to lose it with each Savior-created obstacle. Rick remained stoic until the group came across the walkers in Michonne and Daryl’s clothes. Even then, you could see that Rick did not want to break in front of the group, but there is a moment back on the RV when he’s grasping Michonne’s hair in his hand and you see worry and doubt breaking through on his face as he realizes that the Saviors encountered Michonne’s group. The next great moment was in the woods as the group was trying to get Maggie to the Hilltop on foot. Carl began saying how he was going to make sure that they did not lose anyone else like they lost Denise and in a single word – “son” I could hear the fear and doubt in Rick’s voice. Had he not been disrupted by the Saviors and their annoying whistling, I got the sense that Rick’s response was going to be much less confident and way more cautious.

As the Saviors lined the group up, Rick looked terrified. I don’t think I have ever seen Rick Grimes look so scared over six seasons of The Walking Dead. Maybe in Killer Within when he was trying to find Lori, but that felt more like confusion and determination to find her – not fear. Lincoln captured every bit of Rick’s horror at the group’s circumstances without a lot of dialogue. You could even see the moment when he contemplated fighting back for a moment and realized there was no fighting their way out of that lineup. Lincoln’s performance is what makes the cliffhanger that much more frustrating because you are in that moment with Rick and the group and the cliffhanger destroys all of the emotional momentum so brilliantly developed by the cast.

Survivor(s) of the Season
Eugene and Father Gabriel have a come a long way this season. Although Father Gabriel’s screen time was limited, it was very clear that he was a changed man. I hope that the writers will not undermine Gabriel’s growth by revealing that Alexandria was attacked while the group was on the longest, deadliest road trip ever.

Josh McDermitt’s performance last night was right up there with Andrew Lincoln. I love his portrayal of Eugene and watching him carry Eugene into Stage 2 has been a pleasant surprise this season. The scene with Abraham was so great and I hope that the two will be spared Negan’s bat so that we can get more of that in Season 7.

Until Next . . . Season?!?!
Welp, that’s it for Season 6, fellow Walking Dead fans. I know that there is a lot of outrage over the cliffhanger and although it frustrated me, there was still a lot to enjoy about the finale. What did you think of the finale? Who do you think got up close and personal with Lucille? Will our group ever be the same? Sound off below!