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It's been a little over two months since The Walking Dead brought Season 6 to a blood-covered close, and any mention of the show will still immediately galvanize many fans to make impassioned rants about how the cliffhanger completely ruined the show and is absolutely the last straw and yadda yadda yadda. This was only the latest in a line of fan-vexing moments from The Walking Dead's six seasons, and while I'll freely admit I hadn't wanted it to happen in the first place, and I definitely griped when it happened, it's high time the backlash fades back into complacency.
Here are 5 reasons why Walking Dead fans - or merely "viewers" or even "ex-viewers" -should pack up the complaints and wipe the slate mostly clean again before Season 7 arrives in a few months. It's already going to be a long and hot summer without constant blind rage creeping up into it. Season 6 spoilers are coming, guys.
It Was Hardly The Worst Ending Ever
The Walking Dead is known for finales that dish out major events and tragedies, and Season 6's capper had the added attraction of introducing Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Negan, who inspires a ton of darkly hilarious antagonism in the comics. Anticipation was through the roof, which already lessened the episode's chances of widespread championing, and people reacted as if everything before the hokey and echo-filled fade to black didn't exist.
Hate the ending or not, "Last Day on Earth" was a thematic success, in that it was spent fully hammering the truth into Rick's brain that he is not the Alpha leader anymore, and it was done in a way that didn't just lead them to the slaughter as per usual, but redemonstrated that the slaughter will find them anywhere they go. It closed the latest chapter on Rick's mental state, and Season 7 will likely open up a chapter where he's nearly as helpless as he was when he woke up from his coma. No matter who died, it wouldn't change the fact that Rick's defeat is what's at the narrative heart of Negan's scene and speech.
Knowing The Victim Wouldn't Automatically Make It Better
Let's pretend that the episode, basically in its final form, had indeed ended with the camera pulling back to reveal who it was that Negan killed, and then it went to the credits. Does anyone think that change would have really quelled the backlash against Scott Gimple and Robert Kirkman, rather than just exchanging it with a smorgasbord of other backlashes tied more specifically to who did and who didn't die? That very thing is going to happen when Season 7 premieres anyway, only we'll thankfully have most of an episode to follow it and take things in a new direction.
Because yes, some good would have come from seeing the victim getting whacked, but only for knowledge's sake. I know not everyone will agree here, but I'd much rather get to the aftermath of Negan's big kill immediately after finding out who it is, rather than having to wait months to see how it affects things. It's the same reason I didn't abhor the awkward midseason finale ending before Jessie's family got killed off. No, I don't think the isolated and hazy P.O.V. shot of Jeffrey Dean Morgan wrapped things up in the best way, but it could have been something far gnarlier like him standing in the door of his RV and saying, "Hey, guys. I'm killing the mullet-rocking redneck," before it ended.
So Much More Negan Is On The Way
Prior to the finale airing, a lot of The Walking Dead's press coverage centered on the cast and crew saying how amazing Jeffrey Dean Morgan's performance was, and how much he would change the show for the better. And while the actor did get some props in the past couple of months, it was ultimately drowned out by people's dismay with what he was written to do. That's understandable in the short-term, but let's not forget that Negan influenced the show long before his face was shown, and that he's going to be a more threatening force than all of the previous villains put together. Here's how Robert Kirkman recently put it to Uproxx.
I think people are discounting the fact that Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Negan are in the show now, so you're going to be seeing stuff like that pretty much every episode of season seven. Not necessarily cliffhangers. I don't want to worry people, but Negan is going to be an ever-present, constant threat that is going to change everything moving forward. And maybe I've said things like that before, but I promise you, Negan is going to be different.
Comic book fans know how fantastically awful Negan's behavior gets and how sweet his dastardly acts will get as times goes by, so they should be the first ones putting the attention back on how great Season 7 is probably going to be on that front. (That's basically the whole front, but you know.) But for anyone who is legit clueless about Negan's brutal superiority over most fictional villains, know that his time on the finale was just a dick-shaped needle in a tit-shaped haystack, and that there will be a steady stream of perverse madness put forth by his presence.
Season 7 Was Unfolding Way Before The Finale Aired
This isn't meant to insult anyone, but there are many people out there who have absolutely no idea what goes into producing a TV show. And so some of them think there's a possibility that using social media and other means to gripe about The Walking Dead's finale could directly affect anything that happens in the show's immediate future, not realizing that showrunner Scott Gimple and Robert Kirkman were laying out the blueprints for Season 7 as Season 6 was being made, and that they were far more along in that process when the Internet lost its collective nuts over the cliffhanger.
So if you thought that starting up a Change.org petition to get AMC to drop Gimple as showrunner will do anything other than make everyone involved with the show laugh uproariously, let this be a lesson. You can also take some comfort in knowing that the foul reactions the episode earned probably will inspire the creative team to use anything except for this kind of cliffhanger in the future.
Everything Is Changing Anyway
By the time Season 7 reaches its midseason hiatus, The Walking Dead could very well be light-years away from its current status, seeing as how the show's eight-episode arcs are usually quite different from each other. The next leg of the story does more than arguably any other to expand the world around Rick & Co., so while there will be a mourning period for whoever Negan's victim is, audiences will have many more new elements to pay attention to that will hopefully do a killer job of putting "Last Day on Earth" in the back of our memories.
Viewers will head back to the Hilltop Colony in Season 7, where we'll get to hang out more with Jesus, and Xander Berkeley's Gregory will likely begin showing his more heinous side to everyone. Plus, we'll make our way over to The Kingdom for the first time, where we'll meet up with its leader Ezekiel and his lovely tiger Shiva, among other new characters. Which isn't to say that any number of new arrivals will serve as proper replacements for major characters getting murdered, but they'll definitely help water down the ire over Season 6 leaving us all in the dark.
The Walking Dead will return to AMC in October. Will you be there to see it through?