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So, like many of you, I am a fan of The Walking Dead, and thus, was watching the season finale last night.
And, like many of you surely did, it was hard not to find this particular finale very disappointing.
We find out that someone on the show dies, but we just do not know who it was. Instead, we got the perspective from the person being clubbed to death by Lucille, the bat belonging to Negan, who finally made his first real appearance on the show.
Yes, that was how it was done. We see Negan hit this character on top of the head from the perspective of being that character, but we never see who the character actually is. Blood drips over our eyes, and Negan expresses how impressed he is that this character is taking the beating "like a champ" before he really goes to work on the character. We hear a woman watching gasping after the first hit, reacting to the hit, and then, little by little, the camera blacks out, although we still hear the hits.
That is how it ends.
In the Talking Dead, the show that airs immediately after TWD and which discusses the events of each episode, there was no real light shed, although the executive producer tried to explain that the character being killed was the end of the story, and the group's reaction is a new story, one that we will have to wait for next season.
Just out of curiosity, I went to the show's Facebook page to gauge the reaction to the finale. There was literally not one positive review of it to be seen. And the most common word to describe it seemed to be this: lame.
Indeed, I can see that. Fans feel cheated, because sometimes, it seems that the show just simply plays too many games. Having Glen seem to die, only to have him turn out perfectly fine despite falling from a height of maybe around ten to fifteen feet onto pavement, with someone falling on top of him to boot, and right into the middle of a crowd of the walkers waiting to tear all the living apart, quite literally. And that is exactly what they do, and we see Glen seem to have his insides ripped apart, and to scream in response. Yet, a few episodes later, we find out that he somehow, they were only tearing apart the guy who fell on top of Glen, who magically managed to crawl under the dumpster from which he fell, and fought off all walkers who tried to get to him.
Now, we waited all season for this, and the writers seem to have gotten a little too slick again, trying to create mystery where there was no need.
The general consensus is that the finale would have been just so much more powerful had we found out who got killed, and then had the chance to take it in, to react to it.
No one that I watched it liked the ending, and again, all of the numerous comments that I saw on the Facebook page responded positively to it.
Whether the writers see this and listen, we'll have to see. Some of those who commented were so sickened by this ending that they even suggested that they were tired of the show, done with it.
I will not go that far, and will tune in to the premiere of Season 7. But my esteem of the show, and of the writers, took a serious dip with this episode nonetheless. It seemed to me that they basically outsmarted themselves with trying to have a powerful ending. Up to the very end, they actually were doing a decent job of it, and delivering on who gets killed would have been a fitting ending. They really missed the boat on that.
Another complaint that I saw numerous times, and would have to concur with, is that there were waaaay to many commercials. Someone even questioned if the show actually was longer, as the hour and a half time slot suggested, or if it was filled with commercial time. It was suggested that the whole episode seemed geared towards commercial breaks and, again, I have to agree.
This was just a weak season finale, through and through.
Now, it was not all bad. Again, Negan finally being introduced (although this could be said to have come probably a little late in the game) was refreshing, because the group needed a real bad guy. For a few episodes, the members of Negan's group seemed to be getting killed a little too easily, making them seem like pushovers, like they would be a pushover for Rick's battle-hardened band. In this episode, however, we finally saw them for what they really were supposed to be from the start, which is to say a formidable foe.
Still, there are some questions, if not outright doubts, that I had while watching. First of all, how could Negan and his group know exactly where Rick and his group would be all of the time like that? I mean, they were beating and torturing a man to serve as an example, which is to say that they expected members of Rick's group to show up. But they were on the road only because Maggie was sick, so how is this possible? What if she had not been sick? And how were they able to get all of those sophisticated roadblocks up all over the place so fast? How were they able to get everyone in the group to fall right into their trap at all of the exact moments required, seeing as that was incredibly unlikely? It all seemed a little too convenient, and perfectly calculated, to me. Not very realistic, and a little lazy on the writing, frankly. It would not have been all that much simply to have the group brought together before Negan somewhere else, which would have made more sense and would have been believable, rather than to stumble onto exactly where Negan and all of his supporters happened to be.
Also, why does Negan let them live? I mean, he takes an evil delight in the thought of having everyone work for him, basically, and give him half of everything. Now, Rick and his band will be forced to do the same. But Rick and his band also happened to have killed literally dozens of Negan's people. Yes, they seemed to have a lot of strength in numbers, and were in fact surprisingly numerous. Still, they lost something like 30 or so people during the invasion, another six or so who got blown up by the bazooka when Daryl managed to kill them before being taken prisoner, and they killed some others, to boot. That adds up to a lot of people killed by this group, one way or the other, and still they have a great amount of people. Rick and his group essentially have around nine on their knees before Negan, and yet he only punishes them by taking one life? This big, evil dude has this dangerous band before him, and instead of torturing them for what they did, instead of killing them all to eliminate a surprisingly big threat, he just kills one of them, and expects to believe that the lesson is learned, and the group will comply from here on out? Sorry, that does not sound believable to me.
Then, Morgan, who has basically been the voice of practicing as much nonviolence as possible in an unbelievably violent world, finally kills in order to save Carol, who would seem to be mortally wounded (although we all know that she will survive, don't we?). That was strong writing, and the fact that he happened to meet new people from a new, mysterious group, would seem to suggest possible new alliances against the new threat of Negan. That was quite intriguing.
So, this season finale was not a total wash. There were some interesting ideas to draw the viewer back. But that is what makes their failure to deliver on the identity of who was killed so annoying. It is unnecessary. It would be very intriguing for fans to dwell on how the group will cope with seeing whoever it was killer before their eyes while they (and their leader, Rick) were on their knees, powerless to intervene. There are tons of questions that arise, although the only question most fans of the show have now is who was killed, and that just seems...well, unnecessary. Like with what turned out to be the implied illusion of Glen's death earlier this season, this feels like a cruel and unnecessary trick by the writers of the show, and it leaves a bad taste in the mouth of many fans, including the one writing this review. That is not how they should have left this season finale off.
Obviously, the show is usually well-written, and many people have grown quite attached to the characters, or at least particular characters. The ratings, which are phenomenal, would suggest that they have hit it out of the park on numerous occasions.
Too bad that they did not do it with this season finale, which feels like a missed opportunity, at least according to a good number of fans.