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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Walking Dead 6x16: Last Day On Earth


In today's day and age, season finales are a big deal. They're epic. They're game changers. They leave you wanting more.

The Walking Dead has been no different. They've always wanted to go out with a bang. But then there's Last Day on Earth. Hooo...boy. The only thing epic about this episode is its running time.

I've talked about The Walking Dead artificially lengthening episodes in an attempt to gain unearned gravitas before but this episode takes the cake. So little happens in this episode that I doubt it would feel satisfying filling up a regular length show let alone an episode with an extra 50% running time.

Last episode Maggie was having some labor issues. Alexandria has zero doctors now that Denise took an arrow to the eye so Rick and what is left of his crew decide to drive Maggie to Hilltop. They keep getting stopped by the Saviors who, instead of killing Rick's group, they just talk to them creepily and expend an enormous amount of energy and resources to play mind games with Rick's group for, reasons?

And that's a good 80% of the episode. Rick's group driving around, getting stopped and driving someplace else. I understand the idea was to build tension but, first of all, it started to become predictable by the third stop and, secondly, we started running into the magic people syndrome again.

The problem is they presented these road blocks so often and with each one they felt like they had to up the ante. That just made this whole thing end in lunacy. How did the Saviors know where Rick's group was going to be? How did they keep setting up elaborate traps? How did they know Rick's group would try to go on foot? Luckily for the Saviors Rick's group just happened to go on foot right where the Saviors could lead them to the special plot of land that Negan was located at.

How padded out was this episode? Near the beginning the episode focuses on a character we've never seen before and and gives us no reason to care about him. Not necessarily a problem except that his sole purpose was for Saviors to kill him later on. We never sympathize with him. When they hang him as a form of intimidation to Rick and company they literally could have had the same reaction from the viewers if it was just a random person (which he basically was). But no, we needed those early scenes about a meaningless guy because this episode needed to be 90 minutes.

We also have Morgan catching up with Carol in this episode. They have their usual conversations. Eventually Carol sneaks off only to get caught by the Savior that was chasing her. Just when it looks like Carol is a goner Morgan shows up and kills the Savior.

Seriously, Morgan killed him. Now, I know what you're thinking. This is a 90 minute episode. We have plenty of time to ramp up to Morgan killing by showing his thought processes, feelings of helplessness, the agony of realizing he has to go against his rigid moral code. And there will plenty of time to see the aftermath of that decision by Morgan and him attempting to cope with it.

Just kidding! Why bother with that when we can watch Rick and company in an RV driving down a road and then hitting a Savior roadblock for the umpteenth time. Seriously, Morgan kills a guy and it's given zero attention or analysis. It's just...unforgivable.

Slightly less unforgivable (but only slightly) is the fact that, after Eugene nobly sacrifices himself by offering to drive the RV by himself while the rest of the group goes on foot, Eugene gets kidnapped off screen. This is a 90 minute episode! Show us what happened!

Anyway, long story short, Rick, Carl, Eugene, Abraham, Sasha, Maggie and Aaron join Daryl, Rosita, Glenn and Michonne among then kidnapped. The real Negan finally makes an appearance and makes an interminably long speech. It takes him around 10 minutes to say that the Saviors are more powerful than Alexandria so they want half of Alexandria's stuff and he's going to kill one of them to teach a lesson. Yup, 10 minutes to get across that one sentence...and a rousing game of eenie meenie minie moe.

The episode ends in the first person point of view with Negan bludgeoning someone to death. Of course we don't find out who it is that died. Normally I'd call BS on this but I was so ready for the episode to end that I'd take this rather than having to watch another minute of this episode just to see Eugene dead's body.

Other Thoughts:
I kid, it might not be Eugene. Aaron is gay and TV LOVES to kill off its gay characters.

Apparently I missed it but The Walking Dead writers have been saying that a major character will be killed off at the end of the season. If I was armed with this knowledge the ending would've annoyed me even more.

Regardless, I think this ending is ill-advised. First of all, you piss off the fan base. Secondly, you lose any pathos and shock you get with the killing of the character. Since you know somebody died but don't know who you can't be sad at the moment. When you find out next year you'll be more focused on getting the answer to whose dead so the fact that they died will lose impact. Beyond that, viewers will be rooting for their favorite characters to not die and if it's not one of their favorites who die then they'll actually be happy that the character died where normally they'd be sad.

I seriously doubt if the writers know who is the one that's dead.

Who is going to let Enid out of the closet?

How'd the Saviors start those logs on fire? Oh yeah, they're magic.

So, the man Rick tried to kill without any provocation may end up saving Carol's life. That would be interesting if Morgan hadn't already gone back on everything he held sacred.

So now I know Dwight is with the Saviors but I have no idea why.

So, this is it for this season. Sorry I got bitter. And I also apologize for the erratic nature of these reviews. I got behind earlier in the season and it became really tough to catch up. I'll try and do better next season!

3 comments:

  1. It's Abraham. He's enough bad mofo to raise his head back up after the first hit, and enough stupid to go blather about his being ready for the family thing when driving the van and finishing his arc. Except for that we did earlier have glimpses in first person view and it was someone who was kept in the shed. So it's Glenn, and the raising of his head was to get a last looksy at Maggie. Except that they won't go for such and obvious easy choice really, and it's a she. And not Michonne, obviously. So, sorry, Rosita. Except of course for that everyone has guessed by now that Maggie has lost the baby and in a world where dead people turn into zombies and we would finally be up for the zombie baby thing we were denied with Lori, but because we so see it coming they'll be sneaky and have it be Maggie who gets mauled by Negan.

    She's a goner anyway, and Negan obviously doesn't really want to kill anyone, what with using a tremendous amount of resources just to show his power to our folks, and the "I must kill one" thing is just a harsh but necessary deterrent for to keep the bad element in his ever-growing gang of underlings in line and his empire otherwise orderly and safe for all the zombie apocalypse survivors so that in due time it would be possible to once again build a more amiable society. But alas, tis not the time yet, as there are all sorts of murderous fucks roaming around out there who need to be pacified first with strict hand. Gotta like this Negan guy and his big picture view of things. He takes half of everything, yes, but obviously he also keeps everyone fed and housed. What he is running there is the closest thing to a state in this world.

    On the other point, everyone else too was watching with chagrin as pretty much every named character left Alexandia, one by one by what ever excuse, leaving the expected-to-be-plundered town to be defended only by the ending credits folks? ... they're probably gonna fare just fine, right?

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  2. So the question is...who died? I've never read the comics, so my theories are, pure, speculation.

    By process of elimination, I don't think it'd be one of the women. I'd think that the guys in Negan's crew would think that the women would be useful for...reasons. And, would they really go there and have a pregnant woman be beaten to death? So Maggie, Michonne, Rosita, and Sasha are probably safe.

    Daryl is a fan favorite. I know, that wouldn't stop them from killing him, but I'm thinking not quite yet.

    Rick and Carl are safe. This can be inferred from Negan's final line of dialogue where told his people that if anyone tried anything, to "rip out the kid's other eye and feed it to his father." Which wouldn't make any sense if either one of them was on the receiving end of the beating.

    Aaron isn't an "important" enough character that his death would be a big deal after six months of suspense, so he's out.

    So that leaves Glenn, Abraham, and Eugene. Glenn's death would, certainly, hurt the most, but that's also what would make it such a big deal. Abraham is fair game for the reasons Teemu stated. He's, definitely, an imposing guy so putting him down would show the others that Negan means business. Lastly, there's Eugene. I could see Negan viewing Eugene as one of the "more useless" people in the group, so why not use him to make an example. It, also, felt like they've been wrapping up Abraham and Eugene's story lines...another reason for them to make the short list.

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  3. Oh man, what a shame that they had Morgan cross his line, and then gave it zero attention, especially given how dull everything else sounds. That's a shame.

    So at this point, who's left in Alexandria? Judith? Forget half; at this point, Neegan could just stroll in and take it all (though I wonder, half of what? Empty houses? They're low on food - hence the trip to Hilltop - and apparently low on bullets - hence Eugene's plan to make more. So, what, exactly, will Neegan be taking half of?).

    I agree that the ending is ill-advised, and that the writers, while aware of who it's not, likely hadn't picked the victim yet when it was filmed (though certainly, this would hardly be the first show to end a season on a cliffhanger without knowing for sure how to resolve it. "Best of Both Worlds" turned on whether or not Patrick Stewart re-upped his contract, THE WEST WING ended its first season with an attack in which someone got shot, but Sorkin didn't decide who until he sat down to right the premiere, etc.).

    As for who got the bat to the head, my guess is either Glen or Abraham. Glen's death has been teased constantly, and while I'd like to see the series end with him the last one standing, he's probably going to go sometime, and after the whole fakeout with him earlier this season, offing him here seems like exactly the kind of sadistic thing the show loves to do. Plus, it sounds like he and Maggie got some kind of steamy shower scene in the previous episode, which is pretty much the equivalent of a couple having sex in a horror movie moments before Jason kills them.

    Abraham, on the other hand, is in the perfect position to be killed off - he's undoubtedly a "major" character, and thus fits both the stated criteria, and is also at a level where his death would be held for an "event" like a season finale. But he's also not as significant to the narrative and the texture of the show as, say, Rick, Carl, Daryl, Michonne and, arguably, Glen. There's a core group of "safe" characters, and while Glen may or may not be in it, Abraham definitely isn't. So killing Abraham is the best of both worlds: no one would argue he's not a major character, but his death won't be as upsetting for fans as someone like Glen's would be.

    That said, my money is on Glen, just because this show is now that mean. But my own prejudices could be coloring that.

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