This post contains spoilers for ‘The Walking Dead’ season 6 finale, “Last Day on Earth”, which aired Apr. 3, 2016.
Listen, we know there are a lot of people who are pretty pissed with the way ‘The Walking Dead’ season 6 finale ended. The fandom is literally freaking out on the internet. Fans are enraged, calling the show “annoying” and referring to the final scene as a money and ratings grab.
We get it. We’re not here to discount your disappointment about it. In fact, we were really confused and angry (at first) when the episode ended on that cliffhanger. Unless you were among the 12 viewers who didn’t know what to expect with Negan and Lucille, you knew what was going to happen. So, the fact that we didn’t see who actually died after this enormous build up to the iconic comic book scene, was an interesting decision on the show’s part.
But we’re singing a different tune than most fans. In fact, we think “Last Day on Earth” was the best episode of The Walking Dead from any of the seasons, and here’s why:
We have no more fingernails. Seriously, our nails are a wreck because we were biting them the entire episode. At every turn, Rick and the gang were met with more and more Saviors. We had no idea what was going to happen in this episode. Yes, we knew that we would meet Negan and that he would kill someone, but who? With every single character in jeopardy, the stakes were higher than ever.
The episode was terrifying, because with each passing minute, we realized that Rick was falling deeper and deeper into a hole he couldn’t get out of. Rick is used to being in complete control of situations and knowing that he’s the toughest man in the room, and as the episode progressed, you could read it all over his face that he knew this wasn’t true anymore.
The reaction from the gang when they realized the Red Rover walkers were sporting pieces of their friends attire, proved that the Saviors and Negan were playing a f**ked up psychological game with them and gave the episode a very cinematic thriller-esque vibe.
Also, that Mockingjay woods whistling was freaky as hell.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan
Talk about perfect casting. The introduction of Negan was everything we hoped it would be. The show paid homage to the comics with the spot on outfit and the lines that borrowed directly from them. JDM’s portrayal of Negan was what made the scene one of the best in the show’s history. It was powerful and terrifying, and we’ll will never be able to get the image of all of our favorites lined up on their knees out of our heads.
Did we hate Negan, though? Not really, and we think that’s how we’re supposed to feel about him. Even knowing that he killed someone we love, Negan has charisma. Plus, of course he wants retribution — they murdered a sh*t ton of his men. What did they think was going to happen? Wouldn’t Rick do the same thing?
JDM makes a really good point about Negan’s character in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
“We’ve seen what Rick has done to get there and keep his people alive and become the leader he has become, and there’s probably some very strong parallel lines between Negan and his story. We were talking last night on the Talking Dead, and you think about how many people Rick has killed to get to where he is and the fact that Negan’s only taken out… Rick just killed 20 of men, so I feel like Rick’s getting off real easy here.”
Carol’s character development
The highlight of the second half of season 6 was definitely Carol’s evolution. She very quickly went from being one of the most relentless and capable killers in the group, to being completely unable to handle violence, and ultimately exiling herself from Alexandria.
She’s understandably dealing with some PTSD and unable to emotionally deal with the fact that she’s living in a zombie apocalypse. Who better than to help guide her than Morgan? Carol’s story now seems to be running parallel to Morgan’s when he went into “jail cell/ninja rehab”.
After being shot in the episode, it seemed like she had completely given up. This is the reality of this world, and it’s so important that the series shows this side of it. Thank goodness for Morgan saving her … and those mystery dudes.
Morgan killed someone
His anti-violence ideology caved when it came to saving Carol’s life. He didn’t just shoot that guy once, he unloaded his gun on him. Morgan put the humanity he worked so hard for at risk to try to save someone else’s. It was beautiful.
Also, it was just really good to see Morgan (who’s been annoyingly judgy about all of the, often times necessary, violence) finally step up and do what needed to be done. All life is precious, but maybe he’ll realize that some life is more precious than others (A.K.A. Carol’s, the queen of the apocalypse).
The tables turning on Rick
You may think the purpose of the episode was to watch someone die a terrible, horrible death at the hands of Negan, leaving us all grieving. Admittedly, that’s what we expected. That’s not how The Walking Dead rolls, though. They’ve never been a show that uses a character’s death for purely shock value (not main characters at least). Showing the death could have taken away from the true purpose of the episode, which was to show Rick and the group in a place they’ve never been before — at the bottom of the food chain and completely helpless.
They spent all season showing Rick being a complete badass who didn’t think they could be taken down by anyone. Having the final scene highlight the group at the mercy of these people, whom they didn’t even know existed, was just as powerful of an image as knowing who was getting beaten to death would have been.
Check out what Kirkman said in response to all the negativity over the finale in an interview with Entertainment Weekly:
“If you read the comic book series, I think pretty much every issue ends with a big cliffhanger… And I think that’s a lot of fun. But this story, the cliffhanger isn’t the story. The story of the episode, and Scott and Matt Negrete did such a great hob of setting up how confident Rick was going into this. This episode is about the loss of that confidence. It’s about changing that mindset. It’s about tearing Rick Grimes down and that’s the conclusion of this story. So while it does seem like a cliffhanger, that’s the conclusion.”
So, who was on the receiving end of Lucille? No one knows, not even the cast. Our money is on either Daryl, Glenn, or Abraham, but we’ll have to wait six long months to find out if we’re right.
The Walking Dead returns to AMC in October 2016. Let the agonizing wait begin!