Major spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 6 finale are below.
For so long, fans of The Walking Dead were eagerly anticipating the final episode of Season 6, in which the culmination of the Rick’s Group vs. The Saviors arc arrived in the form of Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s tyrannical Negan. And now that introduction has come and gone, leaving behind a bloody wake sprinkled with skull bits. But whose blood and skull bits? We don’t know, and that’s almost unacceptable, especially given how the first half of Season 6 dealt with Glenn and his near death experience. Oy.
Even before episode leaks started popping up across the Internet about a cliffhanger ending, I expressed my potential disgust in The Walking Dead dropping the comic series’ biggest moment on audiences without unveiling the identity of Negan’s first victim. I’m not generally anti-cliffhanger, regardless of how much time has to pass before answers are given, but this ambiguous ending was drained of all the impact in the source material’s scene. And no, not everything needs to be the same from the page to the screen, but the significance should at least be in the same ballpark. (Lucille would have liked that ballpark reference, I bet.)
Instead of the initial gut punch that came when it was clear Negan was going to murder Glenn in the source material, the scene allowed dread and fear to build up to those final moments, but then it was all stripped away and replaced with uncertainty. When’s the last time you were uncertain about something and felt doubtlessly impressed with whatever made you feel that way? It’s not a feeling that happens often, and it was unfortunately not the case here.
Don’t get me wrong. I very much liked the scene as a whole, as Morgan’s performance definitely set Negan up as a formidable and confident foe for Rick & Co. I totally believed him when he said that he didn’t really want to kill anyone, and I’m also convinced he would kill someone else without a lick of hesitation if the situation called for it. A lot of good moves were made in this scene, down to the shot of Negan swinging the bat, but then it takes mere seconds to derail everything and inspire rage-fueled remote-throwing. Why would they do this to us?
I’m assuming showrunner Scott Gimple and Robert Kirkman remember how divisive Glenn’s early-season arc was, and how many fans actively railed against the show for pulling that kind of shit. I realize that not knowing which of the eleven survivors died is quite different from not knowing if a single survivor lived or died, and that Glenn’s moment came in the middle of an episode in the middle of a season, not within the last scene of a season. But a rose is a rose is a rose, whether it’s a Blush Noisette, a Pink Parfait or an Uncalled For Cliffhanger.
There was some brief and diminutive hope that The Walking Dead would manage to buck the expectations spawned by spoilers aplenty popping up in past weeks, perhaps by airing a different ending to the one seen by the people unleashing the spoilers. I mean, that scene was filmed two different ways to make room for Negan’s expletive-heavy dialogue eventually showing up on the Blu-ray release. But I guess no one thought that anything else needed to change.
Sadly, The Walking Dead won’t be back on AMC until October. But until then, you’ll be able to watch Season 2 of Fear the Walking Dead. And for everything else premiering in the next few months, check out our summer TV schedule.
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Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.
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