Color me underwhelmed by the mid-season finale of Season 6A (such a nerdy series of words) of The Walking Dead. It felt like the episode was meant to be 90-minutes but after the premiere and episode four were similarly supersized, AMC and/or the producers decided against it, opting to go for the cliffhanger here: Rick and his zombie gut-covered gang stuck in the middle of a horde of zombies after fatally-injured Deanna sacrifices herself, the Wolf Morgan was keeping prisoner loose and Glenn, Daryl, Abraham and Sasha still separated from the main group at Alexandria.
The fact is, the cliffhanger is not that strong to begin with. It’s not like we’re going to come back in February and deal with major consequences of an event, such as rebuilding after the horde attack. Instead, the story literally feels halved at a critical moment, guaranteeing that the opening moments of 6B will be eventful but certainly not as emotionally impactful if they hadn’t waited three fucking months to draw out the resolution. Laziness like this is sadly becoming the norm a la the recent #IsGlennAlive debacle.
I remain intrigued by Morgan, a radically different character than his comic counterpart who existed without the ninja stick and Zen “all life is precious” philosophy. He’s a wrench in the machine, much like the Wolf he’s kept locked in the basement all this time has been. Morgan manages to enlist the new doc Denise in his cause to “change” the psychopath, who remains resistant to all forms of redemption. If this villain weren’t so obviously and joyously evil, people might think Morgan has a point.
But public opinion has turned against the popular character in the blogosphere because of his pacifism. Apparently, some viewers would prefer all their characters the same as Rick but beyond that, they dislike him because they deem him naive. Now, this wouldn’t be an issue with me – we’re all allowed opinions of course – if the show didn’t seem to be stacking the deck against him by making this nameless Wolf character so obviously irredeemable. Seriously, Morgan doesn’t have to kill him but does he have to save him?
In that sense, I feel that the show has done a poor job of illustrating the admittedly-interesting conflict that’s emerged between Morgan and Carol, the other ruthless pragmatist of the group with a worldview diametrically opposed to his. Their brawl in this episode was earned and the inner conflict between group members remains the most potent source of drama for this show, not the zombies, not the villains and certainly not the fucking kids.
Goddamnit, why do Ron and Enid exist (SIDENOTE: I know they exist to fulfill plot purposes but let me rage at the metaphorical heavens for a second). I know kids would survive the apocalypse and I know some would be shitty but that does not mean I’m going to enjoy watching them do or be either. Carl survived it and Chandler Riggs has admirably grown into the role and become a worthy ensemble member in his own right. But Enid is annoying as shit, even though Glenn is desperate to save his pregnant wife and Ron remains ready to fuck shit up at a moments notice. We get it: Enid’s a loner and Ron’s a psycho. Now can something happen already? Can the characters take action that isn’t moping or brooding? (SPOILER ALERT: At least one of those two will and it will spell a horrifying injury for another).
Speaking of spoilers, there was no sight of Daryl, Sasha and Abraham this week – last seen driving back to Alexandria after Daryl was robbed by the fleeing Dwight (Austin Amelio) and Sherry (Christine Evangelista). But that doesn’t mean we don’t know what happened to them. During a sneak “prologue” of Season 6B, a name was spoken that many comic fans have long awaited: Negan.
To be played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchmen, The Good Wife), Negan is the leader of the ironically-named biker gang the Saviors. The prologue, from episode 6.9 titled “No Way Out” shows Daryl, Sasha and Abraham getting stopped on the road by said Saviors, who’s chase of Dwight and Sherry the trio ran afoul in episode six. The lead biker (one of Negan’s henchman) announces that all their belongings down to the mints in the car and the porn under the seat belonged to Negan now, setting up a long building process culminating in a finale appearance.
Hopefully the infamously-unpredictable sociopath can bring the verve, energy and some fucking momentum back to a show that’s been all about delaying, delaying, delaying for too long. For more on what’s coming up on The Walking Dead Season 6 – including spoilers for what’s in store for Season 7 and 8 – check out this link.