By: Casey Johnston (@DarthHockey)
WARNING: There are spoilers ahead for the latest episode of The Walking Dead.
Before I give my thoughts on the rest of the episode, let’s get that ending out of the way. Many people were understandably upset with this episode ending with a cliffhanger, myself included. Maybe it was the shock of the ending (even though the cliffhanger aspect was totally spoiled weeks ago) combined with not being able to move on from a character. Maybe it was all the buildup and the heart-racing tension leading up for the final moments with Negan and then the huge letdown of not knowing who was on the receiving end of Lucille. Whatever the reason, this was an ending that no one wanted and people weren’t shy about letting the writers know about it via Twitter.
I like a good cliffhanger. They leave us wanting more and give us something to think about over the summer. But there’s something about The Walking Dead ending on a cliffhanger that just simply pissed everyone off. The audience took the teasing of Negan and the clues pointing to the deaths of various characters as a sign that this season would have a big ending. And it did have a big ending, but it felt woefully incomplete. Now instead of talking about how great this episode was (and it was great) or how wonderful Jeffrey Dean Morgan was as Negan, people are just talking about how much the writers dropped the ball.
For me, I don’t trust the writers to give us a good conclusion to this cliffhanger. Based on their past history, season seven will probably open with three episodes about what’s happening in Alexandria while Rick is away, two episodes about the Kingdom (more on that later), a flashback episode giving us Negan’s origin story, and then we will get to find who died in the mid-season finale. At least two of these episodes will be 90-minutes long, and those 90-minute long episodes will be the least interesting episodes of the season. I’m saying this as a joke, but can’t you actually see the writers doing this? It’s like Glenn’s “death” all over again.
Lastly, I’m sure the death will get spoiled before next season. People will be watching the set like hawks, so we will surely find out who’s not there. Plus, the cast member will probably get signed onto a different series. Or the script will just get leaked. In any event, it’s going to get spoiled and the tension will be gone. That’s just another reason why this cliffhanger was exceedingly dumb.
Now that I’ve vented a little, let’s talk about how great Jeffrey Dean Morgan was as Negan. People have been looking forward to his introduction pretty much since 2012 when he first showed up in The Walking Dead #100. That was a special issue of the comic, and his introduction here was just as special. The way Morgan delivered his lines and the content of those lines themselves was amazing (except for that “pee pee pants” line that was just as weird on the show as it was in the comic). It was everything I would have hoped for, right down to his look.
I think once we all calm down and get over the ending, we will appreciate Negan’s introduction and Morgan’s performance much more.
Another thing lost in the rage over the ending was the introduction of The Kingdom. In the comic, The Kingdom is part of the same trading alliance as the Hilltop. It’s based in a high school and is led by a guy named Ezekial. It’s the second-biggest colony after the Hilltop and was vital in Alexandria’s war with the Saviors. Their introduction is probably a good sign that the writers won’t be wasting any time getting this war going.
How puny did Rick look at the end of this episode? The writers have spent years building him up to almost mythological proportions. Rick has come to be an almost unstoppable force, and it’s a foregone conclusion that he will overcome almost any threat he faces. Until now. The writers really spent this episode tearing him down. Every decision he made was the wrong one. Every conflict he passed up just led to a bigger threat. Think how differently this story would have gone if the group had just blasted its way through the first Savior checkpoint. But they didn’t, and the groups that Rick ran into from there just got bigger and bigger. In the end, he was afraid. He wasn’t just worn out or feigning fear to Negan, he was legitimately afraid, and you could see it on his face. The writers tore him back down, and now we get to see how they will build him back up.
Good question. I’m sure it isn’t Glenn. If we have to wait until October to find out and it ends up being just like the comic, then I’ll be pissed all over again. By bet is still on Daryl. We’ll just have to see.
Thanks for reading!