Man, there are things I need to post about, but this one just can’t wait.
First, it should be said that I greatly enjoy the Walking Dead. One of my favorite shows, one that has so many flaws yet still delivers in a way that outpaces them. And I still think that, even though this post is going to be largely negative.
Am I upset Glenn’s dead? Sure. Am I upset Abe is dead? I mean, I guess, but he’s been living on borrowed time for at least two seasons so that just kinda fit. Overall, the scene was well done. It was brutal, gory, gave the characters a strong death, and was probably the best raw display of emotion any of these actors have displayed before. Something that, in watching the Talking Dead, really seems genuine. And once again, Jeffrey Dean Morgan is just fan-friggin’-tastic as Negan. I neither know nor care whether he is true to the comic iteration, this is a damn good villain.
So what’s my problem? Not sure if I commented on this last time, but their ending the finale where they did was, yet again, a trend of trying to nail its watchers with a cliff hanger. Off the top of my head, they also did this with the Governor and the assault on the prison (delaying the actual assault by three, needless episodes), they did it with the episode right before Carl got his eye shot out (when they walk right out the door with that kind whining to his mom), and they have done it with several episodes where they spend 40 minutes stretching out a conflict, the “suspense”, only to wait until next week to resolve it in 30 seconds.
This is a multilayered problem.
First, the Walking Dead stretches its content a lot. Sometimes it’s almost reminiscent of Dragon Ball Z (you know, like when it took Goku and Frieza like ten, thirty-minute-long episodes to have a five minute battle). I am all for a slow burn to build suspense, but the Walking Dead is filled with filler episodes or filler scenes, where you can watch half the episode and realize the plot has not progressed an inch, only for it to leap ahead in a minute or two.
Second, let’s be real folks, we’re all coming back. AMC can chill. The Walking Dead is one of the most popular shows on television, you don’t need to hit us with these cliffhangers every episode, every finale. You could make the argument that the reason the WD is so popular is because of these cliffhangers, but I would have to disagree. We return in spite of them, not because. The scenes I talked about above, including things like Glenn’s “death” under the dumpster and dozens of other scenes, are rightly criticized for being clumsy red herrings. Except for the end, last year’s finale was probably one of the single best episodes of the WD. It was terrifying and would have been perfect had it culminated in what transpired last night.
Lastly, and this is deeply connected with the second, it creates a disjointed experience. Instead of ending with a climax last season, we started with one this season. It disrupts the story rhythm, and with so, so much speculation and analysis occurring, I was literally surprised by nothing that occurred. Abe died, like many said. Then Glenn, like many other had said (with many even speculating that it would be a 1 + 1 because of Darryl’s involvement and Negan’s subsequent retaliation). Carl’s moment was a nice touch, but as soon as Negan started counting, I knew he wasn’t going to make him go through with it.
Don’t get me wrong. I had no problem with any of the content last night. It was pretty much everything I would have desired and feared. And the analysis that I am talking about, most of it actually occurred within that season itself, building up to that finale. More occurred afterward, sure, but it had its origins as the season built up toward Negan’s entrance. But that’s just it, it was a build up. I was ready. But for this, I came into it cold, having not watched the Walking Dead for a year. Had I gone into that juiced from the agonizingly suspenseful journey that got them there, I would have been floored.
As it was, I am just ready for the next season to start, having finally seen the finale from the last one.