The Walking Dead, S6 Ep16 – Last Day on Earth

Another year, another stressful finale of The Walking Dead.

When it was previously announced that this would be an extra-long special episode, fans of the show all got extra anxious about the fate of their favorite characters. The Walking Dead finales are notorious for killing off major characters in particularly brutal fashions, and so that much more horror was anticipated for this one.

The Walking Dead, S6 Ep16 - Last Day on EarthBut while the final ten minutes were a master class in ramping up tension and Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Negan did not disappoint (more on that later), the majority of the episode moved at a meandering pace, featuring some scenes with Morgan and Carol that were obviously a setup for next season and that lasted longer than necessary. All the major characters left Alexandria presumably to bring an ailing Maggie to safety at the Hilltop, but also so that all of the key players could walk conveniently into a bloody trap set by the Saviors.

The ending was even more frustrating because we seriously did not need another cheap cliffhanger. After the whole Glenn debacle earlier this season, fans are so not amused with such blatant tactics to ramp up interest in the next season. People are already going to watch the next season; that is a given. There was no need to push up the ratings with this. And while fans were afraid of seeing a character die viciously at the hands of Negan, they were also expecting it. They have been expecting it for months, endlessly speculating whether the show would follow the same storyline as the comics or if it would deviate.

We wanted to rip off that band-aid immediately, to grieve for whichever unfortunate character met their gruesome fate after being bashed in the head by Lucille. But we were denied that chance and now we have to wait for months before we even find out, IF during the shooting of the season spoilers don’t leak and ruin the “surprise.”

The Walking Dead, S6 Ep16 - Last Day on EarthOn another note, I’m relieved that at least Carol and Morgan survived this season and are seemingly off to join a group not as horrible as the Saviors. After all the hype about his arrival, Morgan has been criminally underused this season and it was interesting to pair him up with Carol, one of the best characters on the show. Her crisis of conscience was fascinating to watch and it would have been sad to see her killed by some loser she didn’t manage to shoot down last time. Hopefully, she and Morgan will figure some way to help their friends when the show returns later this year.

Meanwhile, Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Negan was fantastic. Exuding confidence and even a chilling reasonable-ness, his first appearance definitely lived up to all the hype surrounding his character. The way he calmly explained the new world order, while the threat of death hung above every character’s head, was mesmerizing. He was smooth and intimidating and terrifying, a truly worthy adversary for our main group.

The Walking Dead, S6 Ep16 - Last Day on EarthThis was the first time I ever saw Rick so genuinely shaken and scared. He finally realized that he was at the mercy of a monster and after all his smugness and arrogance, there was nothing he could do about it this time. His family was surrounded by Negan’s men and any one of them was a potential target for Lucille. There was no way out of this one and those final ten minutes when no one knew who was going to be killed were some of the tensest moments ever shown on television.

Up until the disappointing ending, though. While no one wanted to see the gruesome details of any character getting bloodily murdered with a barbed-wire wrapped baseball bat, people still would have wanted to find out who it was that Negan chose to pay this price. We’re fairly certain it wasn’t Rick or Carl, but anyone else in the group is fair game. What isn’t fair is making the fans wait for the result of this iconic moment.

The Walking Dead season six has been a generally strong season, naturally with its ups and downs, but still filled with compelling and emotional scenes and amazing performances from the cast. There were some notably violent and intense sequences, as to be expected of this show, as well as the introduction of a powerful and charismatic new villain, Negan. However, the cliffhanger ending of the season finale was regrettable and exasperating and hopefully, fans will not be so annoyed at this as to not tune in for the next season of The Walking Dead.