There is absolutely no chance that you won’t hear the bitches and moans that will no doubt fill your timeline for the next few days, if not weeks, about how AMC basically spat in the face of the audience on what could’ve been an episode of ‘Red Wedding’ proportions. As a fan of both the comics and the show, I’m absolutely disgusted at how AMC blew that finale. Negan’s introduction scene in the comics deserved to be depicted the right way and instead the audience was left with a massive case of blue balls. Instead of leaving the audience reeling and emotionally sick and fully hyped for season 7, we’re just left angry and cheated.
I don’t know what genius decided to end with a cliffhanger (actually I do, this is Scott Gimple all over), but they should seriously be fired. There is a right and a wrong way to execute (pun intended) a cliffhanger, and that was most certainly the wrong way to do it. You don’t need to resort to a cheap cop-out to try and desperately hold onto your viewers, AMC. People already love this show, there is no need to dangle a carrot in front of us. The build up to the final few seconds was so intense, I genuinely felt physically ill at the thought of seeing one of the characters dying in one of the most brutal ways you can imagine. And then to just jump to black and end the episode? What a waste of genuine tension and fear. It could’ve been one of the best TV season finales ever, and it should’ve been, but instead we got screwed.
Not since The Sopranos finale have I been this pissed off, and at least with time and reflection I came to appreciate that ending for what it was, I got it, but this ending is different. This ending was done for the same reason Glenn and the infamous dumpster scene was done – for hype; they want people to obsess and analyse and drive themselves crazy trying to figure it out. It was a cop-out then and it’s a worse cop-out now.
What if there’s a leak? It’s happened before and it could likely happen again. A key to this show’s success is momentum. If we find out who died before the episode airs then any modicum of emotion the scene has left (and it’ll already be incredibly depleted because of the break) will be gone. It’ll just be closure for us to see it then. Forget about doing the comics justice, the art and emotional turning point of the scene has been stunted and no matter how good of an opener season 7 has, it just won’t make up for this.
As if it couldn’t get any worse, I sat through The Talking Dead afterwards where Chris Hardwick kissed Gimple and Kirkman‘s ass for an hour. Watching Gimple sit on that couch and talk about the ending as though it was some fantastic idea that had all this extra meaning behind it was painful. Just come out with it, Gimple. Just say ‘Err, we butchered this iconic comic book scene by cutting it in half because we, err, want to make sure people watch season 7.” At least I’d have some respect for your honesty. Instead I’m just sitting here in absolute bewilderment that a network can totally disregard its fans like that. And Kirkman! This was your art, man. How could you let this happen?
Although I’ll probably be fuming about the final minute for a long time, there were good aspects of the episode that I want to discuss as well so I’ll put my seething hatred for Gimple aside for the time being. Jeffrey Dean Morgan‘s turn as Negan was fantastic. He truly did the character justice without being cartoonish or unrealistic. I had real chills when he was up close and personal with Rick, staring down at him with that smug smile of his. I’m convinced that he’ll be one of TV’s best villains. His performance was top class. The last ten minutes would’ve been the best television I’ve seen in a long time if it weren’t for the cock-up at the end, but I digress.
One of the best parts of the episode, and it’s something we really haven’t seen before, is Rick absolutely terrified. Not even Terminus was enough to break Rick because while heads were rolling and blood was pooling in the trough beneath he and the others, he still just knew that he was going to kill Gareth with that red-handled machete. He has gotten out of every impossible situation thus far virtually unscathed and now he’s trapped. He’s trapped and his family are trapped with him. There’s no way out of this and he realises it. It hits him all at once that his family relied on him to keep them safe and now one of them is about to die. It’s so scary as an audience member to see Rick, who is usually cooler than cucumber and a badass to boot, look like he wants to curl up in a ball and cry. Again, Andrew Lincoln knocks it out of the park.
Unlike many, I actually like Carol’s new story arc that shows her in a state of constant vulnerability. She’s still well able to do what needs to be done, but she’s so aware of her conscience now and I think it’s so interesting to see her beliefs line up with Morgan’s more. Likewise, he has gone from having clear cut, black and white views to understanding Carol’s way of doing things. Basically they’ve both abandoned their extremist ways and they’re nearing the middle ground. Plus Morgan wasn’t insufferable in this episode so that’s a plus. I’m actually starting to like where their relationship and story is going, particularly after some very interesting new characters stumble upon them.
We also saw the power of the Saviours in this episode and it was great to see Rick slowly realise, as Abraham says, how far up shit creak they are with their mouths open. His cockiness of the last few episodes, heck the last few seasons, has been their downfall and he’s learning the hard way that there’s always a bigger fish.
Although I found the collective whistling a little silly at first, by the end I thought it was a good addition as it not only shows how organised the Saviours are (not that we needed reminding after the barricades and the walkers in chains), but also demonstrates the effective use of psychological warfare. Shout out to Father Gabriel, who is fast becoming one of my favourite characters. I need me some Pulp Fiction style monologues from him on the regular.
It wasn’t the strongest of episodes (particularly due to the pacing and the fact that the cast spent most of it in the RV), but it could have been had the ending worked out the way everyone wanted it to. However, I can’t just dismiss the entire thing because of a seriously bad decision at the end, though that was my initial reaction. It was good, but not great, and it’s definitely a case of shoulda woulda coulda.
What did you think of the episode? Yay or nay? Are you as pissed at Gimple as I am? Let me know in the comments!