Checking In: ‘The Walking Dead’ ends season 6 with a pathetic cliffhanger

I’m so done with this show. Sorry, let me backtrack a little. AMC’s The Walking Dead ended its sixth season on Sunday, April 3rd with the episode “Last Day on Earth” and boy oh boy was it awful.

The thought that went through my mind the most after I finished watching “Last Day on Earth” was; “How did a show that I genuinely enjoyed for several years take such a sharp turn south?” Man does it hurt to write that…just a month ago I was praising that the show had turned a corner into some great new territory. Well, the award for “Fastest Change of Matt’s Opinion” goes to The Walking Dead. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

SPOILERS PAST HERE……not that there’s anything to really spoil.

“Last Day on Earth” was a 90-minute exercise in narrative repetition and stalling. Not a single thing of consequence happened until the last 10 minutes of the episode. It was all a big stall tactic until it was finally time to reveal Negan (Jeffery Dean Morgan). In fact, every single episode past “Not Tomorrow Yet” was just stalling for the final 10 minutes of this episode.  Heck, you could argue most of this season was just filler for that moment and they completely botched it.

In a nutshell “Last Day on Earth” continues the stupid trend of our heroes leaving the safety of Alexandria at the exact moment none of them should be. The past few episodes had various characters running out to do supply runs or chasing after characters who had left for other stupid reasons. This week, Maggie is having complications with her pregnancy so naturally, Rick and every remaining member of the principal cast go to escort her to The Hilltop. Along the way, they are repeatedly blocked off by The Saviors until they are eventually forced into a confrontation with Negan. Basically, the past 2 episodes existed solely to maneuver the entire cast into Negan’s trap. There’s also the conclusion (if you could call it that) of whatever story Carol and Morgan had this season, I’ll get to that in a moment.

There you go. I just summarized the plot of a 90 minute (with commercials) episode of TV. Nothing here required that amount of runtime. We got to watch the RV run into roadblocks and turn around for an hour and a half. Talk about a riveting season finale. But I suppose “Last Day on Earth” serves as a fitting conclusion to the previous 15 episodes of this season. Overlong, hitting you over the head with themes you’ve heard a thousand times, and ending with a cop-out. I’m starting to sense a pattern here.

Let me say something nice about this episode before I get to why I really didn’t like it. Jeffery Dean Morgan as Negan was awesome. We’ve been waiting for him to show up all season and boy did he deliver. But part of that is due to the caliber of actor JDM is and not the writing of Negan himself. One of his first lines is “It’s about to be pee-pee pants city” or something like that. I cringed. I don’t care if that line was lifted straight from the comics, it’s stupid. Aside from that Negan had a truly commanding presence and the look of horror on Rick’s face as he sat there helpless really did sell the stakes of the situation.

And then the ending happens. Ugh, and things were starting to look up too.

The season ends with Negan randomly selecting a member of Rick’s crew to kill as retribution for our main characters killing a bunch of Negan’s men back in “Not Tomorrow Yet.” Well instead of showing us who Negan’s victim is the show cuts to the POV of the victim as Negan beats them with his bat as the screen cuts to black (I hated typing that sentence). So for the third time this season, the show takes the easy way out. So now we don’t know who bit the dust and we aren’t going to find out for another 7 months. By then I don’t think I’ll care. You’d think after faking us out with Glenn’s “death” in the first half of the season the creative team would have learned their lesson. They didn’t.

And therein lies my problem with not only this episode but also this season as a whole. It has mostly relied on these fake-outs and cop-outs as a way of generating discussion around the show. Even last week’s episode ended with Daryl getting shot as the screen cut to black (complete with a ridiculous looking blood spatter on the camera). Clearly, these endings are meant to get the audience “talking” but all they’ve done is reveal a show that has run out of tricks to play.

Either the writers didn’t want to show us who Negan killed or they hadn’t decided yet. Regardless, it shows me a TV show that doesn’t have the courage to make decisive decisions and honor the stakes that it so desperately wants us to believe exist. There’s no upside to how they finished this season. It’s just lazy. Imagine how much more impactful the ending would have been if we had seen who Negan had picked? That would have ended the season with an image of just how vicious this new antagonist truly is. But no, they took the easy way out.

The show has honestly almost run of out goodwill with me. I can’t keep watching something for years hoping it will get better when it keeps making the same mistakes over and over again. No more death fake-outs TWD. Either do it or don’t. In all reality, I’ll watch the season 7 premiere simply because I’m a glutton for punishment but I can’t take much more of this. When I’m asking myself “Why am I watching this?” multiple times in an episode that is not a good sign.

Some other thoughts before I wrap up:

  • Whatever the heck the writers were doing with Carol and Morgan this season just did not work. Having Carol leave Alexandria because she can’t take the killing at the very time the community needs her the most just does not make sense. I understand her feeling remorse over the people she has killed but given the character we’ve told she is and the situation the show has set up it just feels wrong. Carol has been shown to do anything to protect the ones she loves. So why would she leave when they need her the most? It’s sad that the writers gave what was once the best character on the show such a flimsy storyline.
  • Morgan killing the savior that had been chasing after Carol should have been a huge moment for his character after spending all season refusing to kill anyone. But the moment just didn’t land. Langley because the ideological switch of him and Carol was so hastily done it never felt convincing. The entire plot was again just fill in an episode and a season full of it.

So, are you upset with the way the season ended? Or do you feel like it was an effective way to keep people talking over the summer? Did you find Carol and Morgan’s story interesting? Let me know those and any other thoughts you have in the comments below!

1 thought on “Checking In: ‘The Walking Dead’ ends season 6 with a pathetic cliffhanger

  1. I really enjoyed the episode im sorry i love you

    Liked by 1 person

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