Major spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 6 finale are below.
Well, that just happened. And by “that,” I mean, “Um, something.” There was death. There was near-death. And there was Negan. Oh, Lucille. Dammit, I need to get my thoughts in order. Let’s try that again.
After years of waiting for The Walking Dead to hit the point in the source material where the big bad Negan arrives and fucks everything up, viewers were finally able to sit back and let Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s monstrous antagonist into their living rooms for one of the most harrowing scenes in this show’s six-season history. Granted, it ended on a cliffhanger, which is the one thing I desperately wanted the show to avoid, but I was so ecstatic to finally see Negan that my disappointment was temporarily lost in the hubbub of everyone screaming in horror. (And only temporarily.)
“Last Day on Earth” was an episode that, with the exception of the Carol and Morgan scenes, was basically just an exercise in character futility to assemble the line-up of potential victims for Negan to choose from. Daryl, Rosita, Michonne and Glenn were already captured last week, so it was up to the remaining seven survivors to get themselves and their RV into an inescapable situation, and that they did, thanks to some clever road shenanigans by the Saviors, who kept showing up on the road and causing the group to detour. In the end, nothing they did worked, I’m assuming because even their brainstorming and cleverness belonged to Negan at that point.
And then it came: the big introduction that has been the subject of seemingly bazillions of conversations and news stories. And for the most part, it lived up to every expectation (beyond the one of actually seeing who got killed). Jeffrey Dean Morgan gave a dominating performance, not quite stacking up to how I saw Live-Action Negan in my head, but still proving himself a championable choice for the villain that’s going to lead this show into some seriously dark places in Season 7 and possibly beyond. His speech was just right, laying down the foundation that he isn’t into murder for sport since it doesn’t help him get more shit, but also proving that crossing him is the worst decision someone can make. It was especially effective when the dialogue was tapped straight from the comics, particularly the chilling “You can breathe, you can blink, you can cry” line, as that came right before everything went into berserker mode.
Honestly, while I loved the P.O.V. shot of Negan swinging the bat, I wasn’t that into the screen going blood-red to black soon after, and I wish the camera would have just stayed on Negan’s face as he finished up. The sound design wouldn’t need to change one bit, as that definitely ratcheted up the intensity, and I will never be able to get those bat-to-skull squelching sounds out of my head. But it was kind of a bummer to not have it end on Negan’s face for some reason.
Sadly, The Walking Dead won’t be back on AMC to tell us who died until October, although we can look forward to a multitude of interviews and rumors in the meantime. And until then, you’ll be able to watch Season 2 of Fear the Walking Dead. For everything else premiering in the next few months, check out our summer TV schedule.