Oh, Walking Dead. This is how you leave us? To quote Negan, Not cool. You have no idea how not cool that shit is.

After the not-so-cliffhanger of last week’s shot to Daryl, TWD decided to end the entire season with a cliffhanger – a real one this time. I guess that’s a good way as any to deliver a fuck you to all the fans’ hypotheses about who would be on the receiving end of Lucille this week, but how is that a satisfying end to the season? How do they ensure that no one will find out what happens until the season 7 premiere airs seven months from now? God knows it’s spoilers galore out there…

I get that ending season 6 on a cliffhanger will probably generate a lot of press and speculation on social media, but it will probably cause a lot of outrage as well. So how is this somehow better than the buzz the show would have gotten had they revealed the identity of Negan’s first victim?

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I don’t want to be a negative Nelly, so let’s start with the positives:

– If we had any doubts about Carol or Daryl being alive last week, we got our answer in the finale: Carol is on the way to get some help, and Daryl is still breathing, unless he got his brains bashed in by Negan.

– Carl locking Enid in the closet: YES. I don’t like her and her mopey face. Stay in there and JSS or whatever. The only skill this girl has displayed so far is her hair-cutting abilities, which will probably come in handy since Jessie the resident hairdresser kicked the bucket.

– Morgan riding that horse was an excellent callback to Rick all the way back in season 1, not to mention all the publicity shots that have been floating around for months.

– Chekov’s gun paid off as we expected, with Morgan using it to save Carol’s life. So far both characters have managed to poke holes into their own philosophies: Carol doesn’t want to kill for the people she cares about (but kills to save her own skin), Morgan sees all life as precious until said life threatens that of his friend. I’m labeling this as a positive because both theories annoyed the crap out of me.

– With Morgan and Carol off to wherever these spear-weilding, armor-wearing horsemen are from, even not having read the comics I know we’re about to be introduced to the Kingdom next season, which is definitely exciting. (Even more exciting: the prospect of seeing a non-CGI version of King Ezekiel’s pet!)

– I finally got the answer to my question about Negan’s men: how many are there? Well, a LOT. And their creepy whistling was beyond terrifying, too.

– I also finally got my answer as to how good a casting choice Jeffrey Dean Morgan was for the Negan character. I can’t do a comic-book comparison, but from where I’m sitting, he was pretty damn phenomenal. Just the right dose of terrifying and charismatic, JDM pretty much nailed his WTD debut.

Aaand that’s about as long as the list of positives gets. The rest was a complete and utter trainwreck on first viewing (maybe because my expectations were quite high, so I might change my mind when I binge-watch the entire season again in a few months) that not even the final Negan scene could salvage.

So what sucked this week? (well, pretty much everything)

– For one thing, why exactly did we need the supersized finale? It would have made sense if the extra time was required to set up complicated plot points, but all we got was a drawn-out repetition of the same scene over and over again. As the episode wore on and we kept getting teased about the whereabouts of our four captives, with no Negan in sight, I had a feeling the writers might just give us a glimpse of the baddie towards the last few seconds of the finale, roll the credits and leave us hanging until next year. I was only partially right, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating.

– More importantly: why does the show make a point of illustrating just how stupid every single character is/can be? We get it, they needed a way to get all the main characters out of Alexandria and caught in Negan’s trap. Was there no other way of accomplishing that other than have them roam the backwoods of Georgia all day? Off the top of my head, I can think of a couple: get the four captives back to Alexandria and demand that the rest of the group come outside or they kill Glenn, Michonne, Daryl and Rosita. Or, I don’t know, capture Carol or Morgan and do the same thing? But no, apparently it’s better TV to have every single capable fighter outside the wall, carrying around an ailing pregnant woman.

– Speaking of Maggie: why, exactly, is it better to bring Maggie to the Hilltop rather than just fetch the good doctor? She’s obviously not in the best condition to travel, and anything other than the RV would be a lot less conspicuous. Also, don’t get me started on the retarded idea of carrying Maggie on a makeshift stretcher. In the woods. At night. Can I get an eyeroll?

– Aside from the obvious ridiculousness of the decision to take everyone outside and leave father Gabriel and Spencer in charge, is really no one worried about Daryl & co? Not a word about them being gone and not having come back, even though they seem to think an attack is imminent. Instead, every single character we actually care about is off to get Maggie to the gynecologist, and it’s a bit more convenient than I’m comfortable with in terms of storytelling.

– Also convenient: why the hell did no one at Hilltop let Rick know exactly how many guys he was up against? I can see why the guys who made the deliveries at the compound wouldn’t know, but wouldn’t Jesus have some idea about the size of Negan’s army? (I’m also indignant that he didn’t make an appearance all season since the Hilltop episode).

– I guess this is to further underline the point they’ve been driving home for a few episodes now: Rick is cocky and complacent and feels absolutely confident about his group’s ability to face just about any danger that might befall them. I get why this is important for the story – and the payoff at the end of the episode – but it still doesn’t excuse stupidity.

– Speaking of stupidity (a lot of that going around lately): Rick and the rest of the group know about Negan’s deal with Hilltop, right? Give me half your stuff and I’ll let you live etc. Jesus and Gregory have filled them in on the Saviors’ MO: if a group has something Negan wants, he “negotiates” a deal with them. In this case, Alexandria has stuff Negan might want: weapons, food, RPGs, Patti. So why are they expecting an attack instead of a situation where Rick will have to accept Negan’s terms or lose one (or more) of his people?

– And while we’re on the stupidity train: okay, so Rick is super confident and the group can tackle anything because they’ve been through so much and they can accomplish whatever they want together and all that mambo-jumbo. We get it. So far things have gone their way, and they had no qualms about killing a few dozen of Negan’s men without provocation. Then they’re provoked, while on their way to getting a sick pregnant woman to the doctor. And this is the moment when Rick decides it would be wise to keep his cool and not engage. How, exactly, does this make sense? Rick is the definition of acting now, thinking later, but the one time he should take care of business he decides to put it off until his odds are better? Well, guess again, Rick: you had your chance, and you blew it not once, not twice, but three (four? I lost track) times this episode.

– Out of all the (many) inconsistencies in this story arc, this episode really did a stellar job of pointing out the most frustrating one: when the motorcycle gang ambushed Daryl, Sasha and Abraham, Daryl blew them all to smithereens. A few weeks ago, our group managed to invade Negan’s compound and kill his men in their sleep. When he sent his people to kill them – his only female lieutenants, apparently, because having badass women in his crew was only necessary in order to push Carol and Maggie’s stories forward – Rick & co killed them too. And when he sent Dwight and his group after Daryl etc, all they got was poor Denise. So basically Negan’s men were supremely incompetent during this entire season but somehow became amazing overnight, not only in managing to surround Rick’s group but also in organizing and pulling off quite a large operation that included roadblocks throughout the area, large quantities of timber, a walker chain gang and enough men and firepower to annihilate our group at any moment. How does this make any kind of sense?

– This also falls under the inconsistency umbrella: if you’re going to make bold statements and advertize your main antagonist as the worst supervillain on TV, at least give us a reason to hate the guy. Because so far, things are very much in the grey. Aside from the motorcycle gang threatening Daryl & co back in the mid-season premiere and the stories they heard at Hilltop, Rick launched his attack on Negan’s people pretty much unprovoked. He killed “more men than Negan’s comfortable with”, and got an earful for his troubles, plus one casualty, which is yet to be revealed. Yes, this is our group and we love them but Negan seems pretty fair so far, if I’m being honest. He’s not the ticking time bomb the Governor was, and he’s not as savage as the Wolves. If they had sneaked a couple of f-bombs in this episode it might have made him seem a bit more… something, but this guy seems neither unhinged nor as vicious as we’d come to expect after all that build-up. And if not for the (over)acting of all our people on their knees, his speech was almost funny at times. Definitely not the hateful, evil bastard we just hate on principle.

– While I’m on the subject of overacting: as much as I love Andrew Lincoln, I had trouble with his performance in the finale. His world came crashing down in the biggest way possible, a lot of it was his own damn fault, and he went from confident leader to blubbering victim within minutes, but the vacant stare, while sweating profusely during what looked like a very cold night, was a bit too much. I would have bought it had his obvious guilt been a driving force in all of this. Out of everyone on their knees, he was probably more to blame for their situation; so why didn’t he… volunteer as tribute? Negan would probably just decide for himself who he’d rather kill regardless – and he wouldn’t want to take out the group’s leader if he wants the Alexandrians to fall in line – but Rick, dude, if you’re so broken up about the situation you brought on yourself and your (extended) family, might as well do the brave thing and face the music, right?

– I’m sure I’m going to come up with more gripes about this finale as the dust settles, but for now I’ll sign off with this: between the Glenn death fake-out earlier this season and last week’s stupid Daryl cliffhanger (which they did not even address once this week), it seems that either the writers have no clear direction on who will bite the dust next season, or they have simply written themselves into a corner. They needed to make this finale huge in order to make up for last week’s awfulness, and this just didn’t deliver. Out of everyone lined up as possible Negan victims, I guess it’s safe to exclude Rick and Carl, given Negan’s threat before he swung Lucille. It’s probably also safe to exclude Maggie. If they kill off either Daryl or Glenn, it would pretty much be a slap in the face to every single fan who patiently waited for the revelation of Glenn’s fate after the dumpster dive and who didn’t write the show off completely after last week’s Daryl debacle. Given that the show usually focuses on a character before offing them, this week’s best bet would be either Eugene or Abraham. Although not as huge a character as Glenn is, I would be okay with either death if handled correctly.

– Except: by building up tension this way and having us wait a few months to see who “took it like a champ“, the writers need to make this death pretty damn huge to assuage fan outrage, and neither death would feel… satisfactory enough. Ditto for Sasha, Aaron or Rosita. Which leaves Michonne. I know Daryl is the fan favorite, but killing off Michonne, especially after briefly giving us the much awaited Richonne story, would be pretty damn infuriating.

Even more infuriating? If the season 7 premiere starts with the adventures of Carol and Morgan or with some kind of Negan backstory, or even this week’s story told from the captives’ perspective. If the writers really want to fuck with us, they’ll give us an episode about Gabriel and Spencer’s leadership in Rick’s absence. Or Enid’s time in the closet. Ha!

But I’m really getting ahead of myself now. I guess I should just focus on the positives. JDM is a pretty awesome Negan. Yes. I’ll keep saying that until my anger dissipates.

In the meantime, I’ll probably post another tirade soon enough.

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