REVIEW: The Walking Dead, S10 Ep16 – A Certain Doom

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The Walking Dead concluded the Whisperer War after months of delay while also setting up the story for the additional six episodes of season ten. What was originally billed as the season ten finale ended up as a strange mid-point to wrap up the arc of one group of villains and tease the arrival of new threats.

The episode picks up where the last one left off, which almost seems like a lifetime ago given the delay caused by the pandemic. There was something almost comforting to see the familiar sight of a horde of walkers surrounding the hospital where the heroes were hiding out because, given that this is The Walking Dead, one already knows that they will beat the odds, no matter how unlikely. So everything played out as expected but given the world’s current state of uncertainty, there is comfort to be taken in the predictability of an apocalypse show.

Gabriel, Daryl, and the others came up with a plan to lead the horde away from the hospital, allowing everyone else to evacuate to safety. The plan seemed unnecessarily elaborate and disproportionately risky but most of The Walking Dead plans are like this and they somehow work out anyway. There was the classic “covering yourself in walker blood and guts as camouflage” bit which actually led to some genuinely tense moments as Daryl, Carol, and the rest of the small group cautiously made their way through the horde. It was almost like a nightmare version of rush hour at the subway.

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Bye Bye Beta

There were some moments of genuine tension and even some moving character interactions but other than that, this episode was fairly lackluster as a kind of finale. Only one hero of note died (Beatrice from Oceanside, RIP) though Beta’s demise, though expected, was pretty interesting to witness. The heroes still managed to survive and eliminate Alpha’s horde with seemingly very little effort. The walkers falling to their doom felt reminiscent of the Westworld season two finale with the hosts going to the Valley Beyond.

Lydia and Carol led them all the way to the cliffs fairly easily and the rest of the Whisperers were dispatched quickly and efficiently. After all the danger posed by the Whisperers over the last several episodes, them being defeated in such a conveniently quick way was a bit of a disappointment. But then again, both the main characters and the audience are sick and tired of them by now anyway.

The Walking Dead S1016But other supposedly significant character moments fell flat because the audiences are aware of the external news surrounding The Walking Dead universe. Even though Carol did attempt suicide by standing on the edge of the cliff, one never feared for her life because she and Daryl have a spinoff on its way. She did share a teary and heartfelt embrace with Lydia that belied their insistence that they weren’t trying to build a new mother-daughter relationship.

There may have been hints about Negan and Lydia’s unreliable allegiance but, at least Lydia’s loyalties were barely in doubt. And Negan even showed up at the end to confront Beta but was almost immediately killed had Daryl not intervened and finished the job effectively.

Even Gabriel didn’t seem in imminent danger as he faced the Whisperers alone because this led to the (surprisingly quick) re-introduction of Maggie and of her badass, hockey-masked companion. The exciting moment was undercut by transitioning quickly to other events. Nevertheless, it’s good to have Maggie back.

We finally learn the fate of Connie, who of course survived her ordeal, and is conveniently found by Virgil, the annoying guy who drugged Michonne during the latter’s final appearance on the show. That loose end is effectively wrapped up so the episode turned to Eugene’s group. There was a fairly touching moment when Ezekiel reminded the dismayed Eugene not to give up on his mission to meet up with Stephanie.

But Princess wins the award for best line of the season (or perhaps even in the whole history of The Walking Dead) when she tells Eugene: “Damn. You’re one really horny dude.”

The rare moment of levity of course is short-lived as the small group is suddenly surrounded by militia-like forces dressed as low-budget stormtroopers. So this is the introduction to the Commonwealth and the set up for the next six episodes and the extended final season. When exactly those six episodes will air is anyone’s guess at this point but there is at least something to look forward to?

While we wait in The Walking Dead limbo, we at least have the new spinoff to watch and the premiere of Fear the Walking Dead next week. Basically, there will always be zombies on our screen for the next few months, as a weird warning to us about what we may eventually become when this world ends.