SPOILER WARNING FOR THE FOLLOWING REVIEW: This review will contain spoilers for the episode discussed, please make sure to watch the episode and then check out this list, unless spoilers are your thing.
The Walking Dead “Last Day on Earth”, Season 6 Episode 16
The Walking Dead closed its sixth season last Sunday with a special 90 minute season finale Last Day on Earth; a finale that has definitely stirred an intense reaction from its fan base. Morgan continues on in his unwanted rescue mission of Carol, who is still coping with the realities of her actions in the past. Desperate to get Maggie the help she and her baby needs, Rick rounds up a team to lead a mission to get to the Hilltop, and to the only person who can offer any assistance to Maggie. But the road to help proves to be a challenge to travel as they are beset by Saviors, who seem to multiple in strength and numbers every time they appear. This progression fuels the intensity until the fever pitch of the conclusion, and an ending that closes with a cliffhanger many in the fan sphere have vocalized they are not too happy with. But we’ll get there, until then here are the Top Five Moments from sixth season finale of The Walking Dead.
5.) Eugene is a survivor
The downside of a show such as this that bolsters such a large cast of characters is that many times a lot of them get overlooked and overshadowed by the much more prominent and busy characters of the show. Eugene has been around for a couple of seasons, he started out being the mysterious weirdo who held the key to the cure for walkers, and then it was revealed he was just a weirdo who lied to survive. After that Eugene hasn’t had too much to do. I liked seeing his character get the story-line of finding the factory and wanting to make more bullets, he wants to be of use and wants to show the team that he is more and can do more than just cower when times get tough. So I really dug this little part of the episode showing Eugene taking charge and formulating a plan. Night has fallen and with the cover of darkness the team decides to carry on foot (which in all honesty, didn’t seem too smart, kind of as smart as taking Carl along on such a dangerous mission), and Eugene would take the winnebago as a distraction, luring away the Saviors who have hounded them around every turn. The conversation between Eugene and Abraham, the man who Eugene lied to for months on end to deceive into offering protection, is poignant and heartfelt as Abraham tells Eugene he is a survivor, and a tough one who deserves his place in Alexandria and in Rick’s family. Now this nice little moment may get undercut by what unfolds in the end, but for an episode that is packed with pretty heavy stuff, it was a nice break from the heavy to have a tender moment between two characters.
4.)“Be kind to each other. Like it was your last day on Earth.”
As our gang of intrepid survivors are winnebago bound for the Hilltop they run into the first of many road stops on the way to get Maggie the medical attention she needs. These road stops come in the form of the Saviors, as they cut off access to the road and are just begging for a standoff. As Rick and the gang come out to have a friendly chat, a badly beaten man lying in front of the Saviors gets an ominous X marked with spray paint on his stomach. The man is a living example, as the head Savior informs, of somebody who was with a lot of other somebodies that didn’t follow the rules. This doesn’t faze Rick as he gives orders to retreat back into the trailer, and possessing much more confidence than he will in the end of this episode, asks the Savior if he wants this to be his last day on Earth. Rick means this to be threatening, as a show that he and his group are not intimidated by the Saviors’ scare tactics and as they have proven before, they won’t hesitate to do what is necessary to remove them. But Rick’s threat fails to have much impact as the Savior, as if speaking to a stubborn child, tells Rick to be kind to one another, like it was your last day on Earth. There is something extremely unnerving about this request of kindness when it comes from a group who has shown to have the capacity of unspeakable violence and terror. Rick might feel like he has the upper hand at this point, but his grasp is quickly slipping as the episode progresses and the stakes get higher.
3.) Red rover, red rover, send zombie on over.
Rick and his family need to regroup and re-strategize. There is more than one way to get to Hilltop, and the nuisance known as the Saviors won’t stop them from reaching where they need to be. Pretty much up until now the Saviors haven’t been more than just annoying to the community in Alexandria. They’ve appeared sporadically and made big threats, carried big sticks, but have been for the most part easily handled by Rick and company. This episode finally puts the Saviors into a position of true menace and fear, as the escalation of their toying around with Rick like their food, as a cat would play with a mouse, reaches psycho scary levels. Abraham who is piloting the winnebago has to come to a hurried stop as the empty road they are traveling along gets blocked up with a string of walkers. Obviously a trap, or just an invite for a grotesque version of red rover, the gang files out to inspect the creative road block (at least we know, the Saviors are resourceful). It doesn’t really get creepy until they discover a walker outfitted with Michonne’s shirt and sporting a lock of her dreads. Another has Daryl’s arrows sticking out of his chest. This is clearly in the most serial killer, Zodiac style taunting way the Saviors could inform Rick’s people that some of their own is in their custody, and they almost assuredly aren’t doing so well. So now Rick is taking stock of his current situation: Maggie is still not out of the woods yet and needs desperate attention from the doctor back at Hilltop. The news that now Michonne, Daryl, Rosita, and Glen are all unaccounted for (the downside of having such a large freaking family) and in the clutches of the Saviors, and if all that wasn’t enough, he’s getting shot at now. Gun fire rains down on them from all sides but oddly enough the shots are only hitting the ground. Rick slices his way through a walker’s arm to break the chain and clear the path (which I’m pretty sure is considered cheating by the rules of red rover) and everyone is able to pile back into the trailer, unshot, but definitely shaken. At this point the Saviors are just playing with them, and as their tactics get more and more gruesome the tension of this episode gets higher and higher.
2.) The Slow Death-off
Last week’s episode had Carol, really just minding her own business, when she was attacked by a little group of Saviors on their way to Alexandria. It really was no fault of her own that all five of these big guys weren’t enough to stop her as she shot through almost all of them. As Carol continues to make for a run away from her life and friends left at Alexandria, she unwittingly left one of the Saviors alive. Even though he is not in any great shape, he follows on foot to catch up with Carol and kill her for killing his friends who only died because they tried to kill her. As Carol is en-route to live the rest of her life alone and probably lost in a sea of self-loathing, the surviving Savior catches up with her. Shooting her right away in the arm, he hovers over her. Telling her he is going to watch as she slowly dies in front of him. Unbeknownst to him, he might be giving Carol exactly what she wants. Carol at this point is on the brink of giving up entirely, she is ready to die. But someone who isn’t ready just yet for that to happen is about to make a heroic rescue. Morgan comes galloping in on top of a horse (just kidding, the horse is in the background, but that would have been a cool scene). Morgan has a gun aimed at the Savior, and a face that says in a Clint Eastwood accent, just try me punk. What Morgan does next breaks the heavily held code his character has been built around, and yet feels like an organic move for where the story is progressing. Morgan shoots the Savior dead, ends the threat, and saves Carol. It is a bit jarring to see a character who has campaigned around a single ideology, that all life is precious, that all life has opportunity and that taking that opportunity away is a big no no, go against all of it in a single act. Even if this act did in turn save Carol. And I think this scene highlights exactly what this show is about. It’s about a group of people who slowly but surely lose their humanity, they let go of the things that made them human, their compassion, their hope, their morals, and all to survive in a new world that wants to kill them at every turn. They live in a world now that death is so abundant that life sometimes loses its allure. And having principles that you stand by usually mean it’s only a matter of time before you have break them to survive in this new world.
1.) Pee Pee Pants City
As if any other moment from this episode could be number one but the ending and the first appearance of the leader of the Saviors, Negan. From the point where Rick and company realize their plan of moving on foot was failing as they are surrounded and as they try to escape the ever growing and ever encompassing whistling (which gave me the shivers) the tension of this episode was handled masterfully. I truly felt the gravity of the situation they were in, and this is the first time I believe Rick and his family have ever come across an antagonist and have been so completely powerless to stop it. As the Saviors have proven by every encounter prior to this one, they have the manpower, the numbers, and the unspeakable cruelty to really come toe to toe with Rick and the community of Alexandria. The look of complete bewildered defeat on Rick’s face as he and the others are made to get on their knees, as if getting into position to be audience to the sick and twisted show of power that they will be victim to. Negan is for sure a force to be reckoned with; he is dangerous, he is cruel, and he gets a sick sense of pleasure in being in a position of power over others. You could practically taste the foreboding in this scene, as Negan swings his barbed wire bat lovingly named Lucille, around as he pokes and prods at the collective wills of Rick’s family. You know someone is going to die, a death is coming, and lined up right before Negan is all the characters we love who are now all potential victims. Negan can’t decide which one to make the example out of and decides the best thing to do to push the suspense to the edge, he begins a game of eeny, meeny, miny, moe. Which leads to the crux of the outrage steaming from a lot in the fan community, is as Negan picks his sacrificial lamb we go to a POV shot and see Lucille come smashing down on screen, a blur of pain, and the muffled screams and shouts of the Alexandrians as the episode concludes, leaving the audience without any idea of who the chosen victim was. Now as cliffhangers go, this is a huge one, and I suppose fans don’t appreciate having to wait the 6 months to find out who was slaughtered. I’ve seen this finale be referred to as click-bait, meaning the show gets your attention, has your interest, but ultimately fails to deliver in the end. I have to disagree with this assessment, while it is aggravating to end on such an open ended conclusion, I think not knowing who was killed further expresses the point that moving forward in the show, no one is going to be save. Even with the walking dead surrounding them, it is the living that prove to be the most heinous opponents our cast faces, and with Negan and the Saviors now a reality, living in the new world is going to get a whole lot more formidable.
All photos credited to: AMCTV/TheWalkingDead