This Walking Dead review contains spoilers.
The Walking Dead Season 6 Episode 16
I’m not sure why The Walking Dead keeps trying to stretch its season finales to 90 minutes. After a typical hour of fluff, the last thirty minutes finally got to the point in tonight’s “Last Day on Earth,” and even those last few moments turned out to be terribly anticlimactic. It does seem that everyone on the planet knew to expect a big death tonight, thanks to the hype surrounding Negan’s introduction, so to not deliver that essential moment by the time the credits rolled, didn’t do this slow burn any favors.
Even Negan’s actual ten minutes in the spotlight seemed to go on a tad too long, even though Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchmen) did a great job in his debut. His sadistic performance tonight confirmed what I knew when his casting was first announced: the iconic character is in great hands. Morgan faithfully delivered the villain’s swagger, chilling confidence, poetic crudeness (if there is such a thing), and dark sense of humor with ease. I can’t wait to see more of this character next season, and that may be this finale’s big strength.
Because “Last Day on Earth” acts like a commercial for season 7 on pretty much every front. Negan is given ten minutes to monologue and deliver a compelling argument for why we should care about him and be excited to watch him murder everyone. The Saviors are also able to show their true might, strategic prowess, and overwhelming numbers, essentially spelling out that they’ll be a force to be reckoned with next season. And last is the soon-to-be-infamous POV shot at the very end, which delivers on the promise of the episode’s selling point without having to commit to anything before the season 7 premiere.
I know those final POV shots are meant to be shocking, blood dripping down our TV screens while we hear the mush of someone’s brains on the dirt reverberate in our ears, but this just didn’t work for me. For one thing, we’ve seen way more violent deaths on this show, including Noah getting his face ripped off last season, and the final scene was so drawn out that the momentum pretty much ran out by the time Negan decided to threaten Carl for the second time. What tension I felt when Negan first stepped out of the RV was completely gone by the time he finally decided to bash our heads in.
The season 6 finale fails to commit to anything except Negan’s introduction, which was way too drawn out in itself (remember when they mentioned the guy’s name in almost every episode of the back half of the season?). For a season that was so much about making decisions and facing the consequences of said decisions, we didn’t really get to see the repercussions.
In the case of Carol, the writers seemed to give her another chance to live by episode’s end. The compelling story arc the season built for her suffered some serious damage with all of that needless torture porn. Was there a point to that random guy shooting her multiple times to watch her die slowly? I just don’t see how this was proper closure for her, especially if we’re just going to see her doing the same old shit next season. While I love the character, tonight might have been a proper time for her exit. Maybe she was meant to bleed out, or at least leave the show on her own terms, instead of being forced into the clutches of another violent man. And in the process, Morgan’s whole storyline was undone, too, as he filled the bad guy with bullets. Which means we spent several months watching Morgan give speeches about not killing anyone in order to get to this point where he decides to kill someone to save a loved one.
In fact, a lot of “Last Day on Earth” feels like going backward to go forward, like the group’s RV at every dead end. By the way, there were WAY too many scenes of roadblocks tonight. Two might have been enough. This just goes back to the show’s insistence on the 90-minute finale. Past year’s haven’t delivered on the longer runtime and the season 6 finale was no closer to success.
– Steven Ogg plays the lead Savior for most of the episode, which is just the best, since he’s also the voice of Trevor Philips from Grand Theft Auto V. If you don’t know, Trevor is one of the best characters in that series’ history. Here’s to seeing a lot more of Ogg next season.
– The Library is a weird name for another settlement. Are the people from that settlement known as The Librarians?
– How many scenes involving Morgan on a horse did I need to watch tonight? Apparently, Lennie James always wanted to ride a horse and they made the episode 90 minutes just to make him happy…
– Big moment for Eugene that doesn’t quite turn into much since he’s just kneeling along with the others at the end of the episode. It seemed like he was going to sacrifice himself for his friends for a second there.
– Abraham and Sasha want to pour the Bisquick and make some pancakes…if they both make it out of the season 7 premiere alive…
– They keep giving Abraham new catchphrases and none of them are funny. It needs to stop, bitch nuts.
– Aaron’s devotion to Maggie doesn’t really make sense to me. I mean, they had those moments earlier in the season, but that was one episode several months ago. Not really sure we need Aaron in the finale at all…
– The scene where Rick and the group are sneaking through the woods in that fog is absolutely excellent. Super creepy.
– Why is Negan’s jacket so tight? How can he even lift that bat without ripping the leather?