TWDS6 Finale: one last horrible day on Earth.
The Walking Dead has had a gangbusters second half to the season! And by that I mean both that the show has been awesome and our not-so-merry gang of survivors looks to have been irreparably busted. For the first time since season one, it seems like they are facing an insurmountable enemy; they have long since learned how to handle the threat the walkers present, but will they be so lucky with Negan?
All of our toughest warriors are now captive to this charming, vicious psychopath with the exceptions of Carol and Morgan. But Carol is badly wounded and Morgan is a pacifist—or is he? Last night’s most surprising moment may very well have been when Morgan unloaded his pistol into the man who had so grievously injured his comrade; a brilliant piece of role reversal as we all watched he and Carol lock horns in the first half of the season over the to-kill-or-not-to-kill debate.
They have “infected” each other with what seems to be a very serious case of “open-mindedness.”
This has been a season of transformation for many of our characters: Eugene and Father Gabriel have finally come into their own and earned the respect of the group, Rick and Michonne let down their defenses and found comfort in each other’s arms; Maggie has been fully realized as the goddess warrior she was always destined to be. We know for a fact that we lost a beloved last night—the smart money is on Glenn, as the foreshadowing in the penultimate episode was too overwhelming to deny.
But apart from Rick and Carl (as per Negan’s verbal instructions to his crew), anyone could have been the victim. The survivors will be shattered by the loss, even more so as prisoners of the murderer.
The finale incorporated all the classic WD themes: man vs. nature, man vs. invader, man vs. man, man vs. self. Rick’s status as our resident “alpha male” has been altered, possibly forever. In the past, when we have seen his leadership threatened (first by Merle, then by Shane; most memorably by the Governor) there was no doubt that Rick had the moral imperative and therefore the upper hand; Rick was always the good man. But this year we have seen an arrogance and brutality emerge in his character as his world spins ever out of control—will Negan prove to be the antidote to this?
Previously when Rick has gone toe to toe with his foes he has had righteousness on his side; this time he tried to fight fire with fire and as a result led his followers into the direst predicament they have faced yet. But what Rick still has going for him that Negan does not is that the people who are loyal to him love him. They understand that in spite of the stalwart strength and decency of his character, there has been, by necessity a more fluid nature to his behavior. How quickly will Rick realize that once again it is in fact his integrity that will prove to be his most useful weapon in the battle against his latest rival?
Apart from the headline of “WHO DIED???” there are several unanswered questions for us to gnaw on as we anxiously await the fall return of the show. For example: who are the men on horseback who appear to have rescued Carol and Morgan? Will they be allies in the fight against Negan, or are they already on his “payroll”? If Maggie survives, will her baby? And how did Negan know that Carl is a “future serial killer”? I mean, we’ve all been saying that for YEARS, but they just met! Is Negan psychic in addition to being psycho???
All in all, truer words were never spoken than when Sarge described their predicament as “Neck deep up shit creek with our mouths wide open.” Negan is the boss and he will take “half” of what they have (I’m interested to learn if this is a true ratio or more of a “wishbone” ratio—with Negan always pulling the bigger “half”), until Rick and what’s left of the gang figure out a way to defeat him. Will the still mysterious loss of a friend he led into danger remind Rick that loyalty, not intimidation has always been his greatest weapon?
But for now, all’s horrible that end’s horribly. Our only faint glimmer of hope is that Morgan has realized he is willing to kill again to protect his own, and has quite possibly met up with a helpful faction. Or not. OH, THE UNANSWERED QUESTIONS!!!
We will all be ruminating on Negan’s chilling final words to his victim: “Damn, taking it like a champ!”
And we’ll do our best to follow the brave example of our fallen friend and take the long wait ahead of us for answers like champs.
Photo: Geoff Livingston/Flickr