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The Walking Dead “Last Day on Earth” 

The Walking Dead “Last Day on Earth”
Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

It took us the entire damn season you guys, but we made it. We finally laid eyes on the much discussed, hotly anticipated leader of The Saviors. The man of the hour made his grand entrance in the final minutes, and he did not disappoint.

The same can’t be said for the rest of the The Walking Dead season finale, titled “Last Day on Earth,” which can only be described as superfluous. Oh yeah, and there’s the matter of the final shot that undoubtedly left many viewers frustrated and angry. I want to say nice things about this episode, I really do. So let’s talk about what did work before I let the writers have it.

Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

When a yet to be seen villain is mentioned as much as Negan was this season, you pray that when he does show up, he is worth the wait and there will be payoff. Jeffrey Dean Morgan‘s performance was worth the wait. Other than that, there was no payoff.

I’ve been a fan of Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s for a long time now (he’s both talented and easy on the eyes), and I had no doubt he would be able to play Negan. What sets this particular villain apart from the others we’ve seen is his charisma. From the second he stepped out of the RV, he was captivating. I instantly believed this man would be able to attract and convince people to follow his orders.

Negan is a character that is able to make a joke while still remaining terrifying. I couldn’t help but chuckle when he said things like “pee-pee pants city” or “it’s an emotional moment, I get it.” This doesn’t mean I wasn’t anxiously curled up on my couch worried about our heroes’ fates. Trust me, I definitely was.

Everything about the entire final sequence was nerve-racking. Rick and gang found themselves cornered in the woods by a ridiculous number of Saviors. Also, we can’t forget the collective whistling they all proceeded to do. Creepy! It was obvious Rick and the gang had no idea what they were up against. Other than Negan’s imposing introduction, what sold me in the last few minutes was everyone’s fear.

I truly believed every single one of Rick’s group feared for their lives. We’ve seen Rick angry, we’ve seen him sad, but I don’t think we have ever seen him look that scared. Andrew Lincoln played Rick with an overwhelming amount of panic that his body was visibly shaking. Rick’s been cocky about his group’s ability to survive, and this was the wake up call we all knew was coming. Sadly, the writers took the opportunity for a powerful ending and gave us a handful of bullshit instead.

Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

We’ve known for weeks now that Negan’s arrival meant a brutal death for someone in Rick’s group. After a nail-biting game of eeny meeny miny moe, Negan’s beloved bat, named Lucille, was bashed into the skull of….someone. The camera shifted to the perspective of the victim as Negan ended their life. This was the ending I hoped the writers wouldn’t put us through.

Cliffhangers are important and they certainly have their place in a season finale, but this particular cliffhanger felt unearned and disrespectful to the audience. I don’t believe for one second that showing us who the victim was would have lessened whatever impact the writers were hoping to leave. In fact, ending the season on a brutal death and showing us the unfortunate soul at the end of Negan’s bat would have been incredibly disturbing and emotional.

Instead of having some sort of resolution, we now have to wait until the series comes back in the fall to find out who was killed. It’s always important to leave the viewers wanting more, but the writers should have more faith in their audience to come back without this kind of cliffhanger. There’s no other real purpose to end the season this way other than the fact that viewership will be astronomical for the Season 7 premiere, which is exactly what the network wants. From an industry perspective I get why they did it. As a viewer, I feel cheated out of a character’s death that should have had me screaming and leaving my mouth hanging wide open.

The ending feels especially frustrating considering we spent 90 minutes waiting to see who would die. These 90 minutes could have easily been cut down into the show’s regular 60 minutes. Rick’s group continuously running up against The Saviors was great for building tension, but these encounters could have happened in a more timely manner.

Another aspect of the entire finale that bothered me were the decisions and actions that just didn’t add up:

  • When did The Saviors all of a sudden become this crazy well-oiled machine?
  • How are they seemingly everywhere at once?
  • How could Rick’s group be dumb enough to try to get past those walkers who were set up as the worst game of red rover, when it was clearly just another trap?
  • If The Saviors knew about Rick’s group and Alexandria this whole time, why haven’t they attacked them yet?
  • How did they know to block the roads to the Hilltop Colony?
  • Did they somehow know Maggie would experience pregnancy complications on that very day?

These aren’t out of the box questions. I find it rather insulting the writers didn’t think we would notice these plot/character holes.

Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

On top of watching Rick and Co. find themselves being boxed in by The Saviors time and time again, we also watched Carol continue to go through her existential crisis. I’ve said this in my recent reviews, but Carol’s actions make little sense to me. They don’t align with who she has become. Has she really gotten to the place where she would welcome death that easily? I don’t buy it.

Or was this all so Carol and Morgan could meet members of yet another group, which I’m assuming are The Kingdom? The only bright spot of Carol and Morgan’s storyline was that Morgan finally killed someone again. Look, I’m not a monster. I’m all about peace, love, and no war. However, if I ever find myself in the zombie apocalypse, you better believe I am going to arm myself and distrust everyone.

There was a whole lot of nonsense being thrown around in the season ender, and I’m a little pissed off. The increasing tension and terror leading up to Negan’s introduction was great and the man himself was just as I imagined him to be, but the amount of time and side storylines we took to get there was not needed. Even the last 10 minutes, which I thought were fantastic, had to be ruined by a cliffhanger that was completely unnecessary.

I suppose you’re wondering who I think was the unlucky winner of Negan’s little game. I’m not going to get into my reasoning for my choice because we’ll be here for a while, but I’m putting my money on Abraham. Since we won’t know until the show returns, you can contemplate my selection and come to your own conclusion. Don’t worry, the writers were generous enough to leave you with a lot of time to think it over.

The Walking Dead returns Fall 2016 on AMC.

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  1. Mary

    Great review, Amanda! What you said pretty much aligned with what I said in my own review. IMO, Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s performance was the only good thing about that shitshow of a finale, and I personally think it’s time to show Gimple the door. What a total copeout. So disappointed.

    1. Amanda Steinmetz

      Thanks Mary! There were a lot of things I enjoyed about this second half of the season, but I think they really let the ball drop with this finale. Jeffrey saved the finale, but it’s not good when you only get 10 great minutes in a 90 minute finale.

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