One thing that the season finales for The Walking Dead have been successful at is generating buzz, and getting people talking about what the next step could be. The first season ended with the knowledge that the CDC wouldn’t be able to help. The second season gave us the big “we are the walking dead” speech, the revelation from Rick to the others that they are all infected, and the first glimpse of the prison. Season three broke apart Woodbury, taking Andrea along with it, and seemed to establish a new safety inside the prison’s walls. Season four left our survivors trapped in Terminus, making us wonder how they’d escape. And season five showed Rick asserting his way of life over the residents of Alexandria, dramatically changing the direction for that colony of survivors.
So where does the sixth season finale leave us? Well, it’ll definitely get people talking, and probably for all of the wrong reasons. That’s a shame, really, because the episode, until the very end, was a pretty tight affair from the beginning. We’re getting glimpses of yet another group of survivors, thanks to the Carol/Morgan story. And, after spending the second half of the season hearing the name “Negan” dropped left and right, we finally get to meet the man himself. However, ending the season with a cliffhanger, as Negan’s beloved Lucille crushes someone who will only be revealed in the seventh season feels like a bit of a cop out. Specifically, it feels like exactly what I was worried about last week; that the writers maybe aren’t even sure who they’re removing from the cast, and they’re going to let the tide of social media help direct their choice. It doesn’t help that many reports indicate that the cast itself ALSO doesn’t know who was on the receiving end of Negan’s game of “Eeny Meeny”. Leaving the audience hanging, especially after the earlier shenanigans with Glenn and Nicholas, and then Daryl and Dwight from last week, just feels like they either don’t know the direction they want to go, or they do, but they’re afraid to pull the trigger. I have theories as to who it SHOULD be, as I’m sure everyone else who watched does, and I’ll touch on those later. For now, let’s get to the list. After all, it might be our Last Day on Earth.
Carol made it clear to Morgan that she doesn’t believe that she should be around any other survivors any longer. Her reasoning? If you live with others, you end up caring for them and killing for them, and that’s something she doesn’t want to be forced to do anymore. So, when Morgan goes out to secure the area around the library, Carol leaves. On foot. With a perfectly good horse right outside the front door. Clearly she wasn’t too serious about not being caught.
Morgan finds Carol, and they have the heart-to-heart mentioned above. Somehow, Morgan thinks that he may have gotten through to her, at least for the night, because he goes out to make sure they’re safe to sleep. While patrolling the perimeter would make sense under normal circumstances, Morgan clearly doesn’t realize that these aren’t normal circumstances. If he had, he might have only made sure that the area just around the main door was safe, and worked on setting up some barricades inside. Why do I say this? Because Carol chastised him for following her, and made it clear that she had no desire to be beholden to someone else. Clearly she was going to leave at the first opportunity, and Morgan was the only person who didn’t see it coming.
3. Savior tailing Carol
Dear sir, if your name was ever used, it was missed. By pretty much everyone. So many apologies for that, but not too many. After all, you’re currently in the process of bleeding out, and you’ve decided that you need to get revenge on the person who took out your entire group. After successfully sneaking up on Carol, and being able to disarm her, this Savior got her gun and aimed it squarely at her. And then hesitated. And monologued. And shot her in non-fatal areas. Sure, if Morgan hadn’t arrived, he would have been able to finish the job, but you’re looking for revenge, so just get the job done. Heck, you don’t even know if you’re going to be able to draw enough breaths to kill Carol off, regardless of whether or not someone else comes to the rescue. Your delay only means that you failed in your single-minded goal before your took your last breath.
I’ve got a great idea. We’re going to leave the RV and walk through the woods. Now, some of us are carrying Maggie on a litter, because she isn’t well and definitely can’t make the walk to Hilltop on her own. But that’s okay, because there are still some others to keep us safe. Now, when it comes time to have someone taking point and leading the group, let’s choose the guy with only one eye? Seriously? You know that Carl decided that he needed to be the one leading the group, but his lack of depth perception would have been an issue, had the sun still been high. Instead, it only gets worse, since moonlight can play tricks on the vision of people with normal eyesight. This shouldn’t be a surprise, though. Carl is clearly on a little vengeance path of his own. He also had a very calm, rational explanation for why Enid shouldn’t go on the mission, only to conveniently make sure that he didn’t have to take his own advice.
Rick has turned into a little bit of a walking pile of hubris recently, and it has clearly come back to bite him big time at the tail end of this episode. Once again, Rick is heard talking about how things will just “work out” for his group, because the determination to make it so is enough in his mind. This hubris also shows in his initial conversation with the Saviors roadblock, as Rick taunts them before returning to the RV. But where did Rick really go wrong? It isn’t his hubris, it is his inability to spot a trap until after it’s already closed around him. The second barricade should have shown the futility of Rick’s plan, as the Saviors had upped the ante. The third barricade, with the chain of walkers, was one of the clearest traps that could have been laid out, using clothing from members of Rick’s group, and then the gunfire specifically placed in such a way to panic but not harm the Alexandrians. Even following through with Eugene’s plan put faith in Rick’s ability overall to just have things work out for him, despite all of the evidence to the contrary. Now he’s on his knees, and someone met the business end of Lucille. Not that Rick had much of a choice with regards to Maggie, but maybe things could have been different if he had better situational awareness.
Now, as for that final scene. If I hadn’t constrained myself to characters on the show, the show-runners who decided that a cliff-hanger was the best way to end this season would have taken the top spot, hands down. While the audience may not have been happy with whoever was chosen, at least we would have had a summer to soak it in, and maybe get excited about what that meant for our survivors. Instead, we’re being left in a limbo, wondering who got the bat. But who did? Some are saying that the first-person POV used throughout the episode is a big clue, and they seem to believe that it indicates Michonne, which is possible but troubling. Rick’s love life certainly does carry a bad luck charm with it, but that also would fairly dramatically change Negan’s code away from what he has in the comics. Besides, Michonne doesn’t seem like she’s presented herself as much of a threat to Negan, and there’s no reason to believe that he knows about her relationship with Rick. So maybe it’s Daryl? Maybe, but he’s already injured thanks to Dwight, so would Negan think that his death would be impactful enough? Maybe Abraham is the one to take Lucille’s brute force. After all, Abraham did stand up to Negan, so to speak, when there was an opportunity, but that kind of confidence could be something that Negan thinks he can break and utilize. Also, Abraham wouldn’t really carry the major impact that it feels The Walking Dead wants us to experience. We can be assured that Rick at least is safe from the bat, because Negan threatened to feed him Carl’s eye. The most logical, for a few reasons, would be Glenn. Sure, Glenn has already had his “is he or isn’t he” moment earlier this season, but that could very easily have just been a subversion to make the audience think he’s safe. He’s also the one who interrupted Negan’s speech, and the impact, so to speak, would definitely resonate through the rest of the group. We’ll just have to wait until the fall to find out, apparently. If there’s any saving grace, the cast has to wait a while, too.
But let’s not spend too much time dwelling on this season of The Walking Dead. After all, we’re only a week away from the return of Fear the Walking Dead, with all of the assorted foolishness we can expect from that series. Strap in, because we’ll be back with Nick, Madison, Travis, and the rest before we know it.