So I have this group of friends at work I go out to lunch with almost every day. We talk about a variety of things, but one of our mainstay topics is The Walking Dead. Two people really love the show, and the other two are moderate fans. I, being me, pretty much just shit talk TWD every time it comes up. This has led to a lot of eye-rolling, exasperated sighs and, occasionally, what used to be called fightin words.
But now, thanks to the season six finale, I will forever be right about The Walking Dead. It is trash.
Negan’s arrival had been talked up for weeks, both by the show’s characters and audience. He’s a major badass in the comic series, and people were pumped to see him on screen. Credit where credit is due, TWD did a great job building excitement for his debut.
On top of all that, someone was going to die. A major character was going to die. There was speculation that it would be Daryl, because Norman Reedus has a new show on AMC (that looks dumb as hell), or Glenn because he has escaped death too many times to count and at it seemed like the writers were starting to phase him out anyway. Regardless of who it was, it would be the first time an original member of the group died since Andrea.
Let’s back up a bit. A lot of this episode focused on Carol and Morgan, who are both great characters. Carol, tired of killing people, left the camp only to get shot a whole bunch of times by (mainly one of) Negan’s goons. In order to save her life, Morgan had to kill, something he is very against. It was a nice juxtaposition of the two characters — a killer who would rather die than kill again, and a pacifist who had to kill to save a friend.
That story would have been terrific in any other episode. But it’s not why people tuned in Sunday night. For a show that excels at giving the people what they want, TWD missed the mark badly by spending so much time on those two characters.
Conversely, Rick and the RV Club was very compelling television. TWD showrunners did a terrific job methodically building tension. We’re so used to seeing Rick and Co. outsmart (or out-kill) their enemies that seeing them struggle to find a clear path to victory was exciting. When the inevitable happened and Negan finally showed up, that’s when the finale really started to drop the ball.
After the last commercial break, Negan had 10 minutes. He spent 9:59:30 of that talking. I honestly cannot remember what he said, and it didn’t matter. It was intended to be more tension building, but there was no way to make things more tense. Every second that ticked by was more annoyingly agonizing.
Then finally, Negan pointed his bat at the camera and chose someone…and the shot never changed. Negan killed Mystery Character. It was without question the single most disappointing episode of television I have ever watched.
The silver lining is that I now feel vindicated. I have railed on this show in every single review I have ever written for it. I tell anyone who will listen that this is, at best, a mediocre show. And now finally everyone else sees what I see. People including me tuned in to see who would die. We got nothing. It was cheap, unimaginative and tiresome. Those words have long described TWD but maybe now people will realize it.