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The Walking Dead: Last Day on Earth

TWD - Last Day on Earth

Did the season finale of The Walking Dead piss you off?  If it did, shame on you.  I realize that ending the season on a major cliffhanger is an infuriating decision.  It’s a big, fat middle finger to the show’s fans.  But it’s also typical of the show and especially the show’s sixth season.  After I don’t remember how many episodes of The Walking Dead teasing viewers with Glenn’s fate in the first half of the season, you really can’t be surprised when the season finale promises to deliver a major death and then makes viewers wait sixth months to find out who it was.  We collectively are Charlie Brown and The Walking Dead is Lucy pulling away the football at the last second.  The question is, when Lucy comes back in October and asks us to kick the football, will you fall for it again?

I have to admit, I read a leaked summary of the script two weeks ago.  So I was fully prepared for what was to come.  I even issued some warnings to readers that the season finale was going to upset viewers.  Armed with a bit of comic book knowledge and the announcement of Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s casting as Negan, I had been certain for months that the final episode of the season would consist of a lot of padding leading up to Morgan swinging a bat.  So this episode didn’t contain any surprises for me.

Last Day on Earth was a 90-minute episode.  On any given Sunday, the show struggles to fill it’s regular hour-long slot.  Every time they try to stretch a show past that point for extra ad revenue (it damn sure isn’t because they can’t fit the story in the allotted time), the show suffers as a result.  The main plotline this episode involves Rick and all of the main characters who are still in Alexandria hopping into an RV and trying to get Maggie to the Hilltop Community to see an obstetrician.

Question: Wouldn’t it have been a good idea to move the apocalypse’s only pregnant woman into the same community as the world’s last living obstetrician proactively?  You know, before she has a plot-driven miscarriage or whatever that was supposed to be.  Question #2: Does anyone really think leaving Alexandria in Father Gabriel’s hands is a good idea?  I don’t care that he has manned up a little in recent episodes, the last time he was in charge of protecting a community he locked them all outside of his church and listened to their dying screams.

The bulk of the episode consists of Rick and the RV gang trying various routes to get to the Hilltop.  Invariably, they come across some kind of road block set up by the Saviors.  You have to hand it to these guys.  They have a real commitment to showmanship.  Each obstruction becomes progressively more elaborate.  At first, it’s just a dozen or so armed guys standing around with vehicles blocking the road.  But then they start lining the street with a chain gang of the undead.  They even take the time to make some of the zombies up to resemble members in order to remind viewers that Michonne and Daryl were taken prisoner at the end of last week’s episode.

At one point, the RV is blocked by a giant wall of timber.  Eugene even comments about the resources that would be necessary to build such a construct.  He’s absolutely right to do so.  Any group that can go to these lengths just to extort a small community out of half of their stuff really shouldn’t need to extort a small community out of anything.  Clearly, they have massive resources that could be put to better use.  If you can put this wall together in a matter of hours, you are capable of great things.  Rebuilding society should be a snap.  But instead, they’d rather dick around with Rick for an hour.

It’s worth nothing that for much of this season, the Saviors have been shown to be completely incompetent.  Every time we have encountered the group up to this point, Rick and company came out on top.  Even if the Saviors had the upper hand, they would eventually screw up and get routed by the show’s regulars.  So their sudden level of uber-confidence is mystifying.  If they were capable of this kind of thing, why didn’t they drop the hammer on Alexandria a long time ago?

There was also a B-plot involving Carol and Morgan.  It’s fitting that these two share some time together.  Both of these characters have been assassinated by the writers this year.  It’s a bit heart-breaking to see Carol, formerly the show’s best character, reduced to this.

In the end all of the other regulars in the cast are lined up in front of Jeffrey Dean Morgan as he gives his big speech.  I think it is pretty common knowledge at this point that in the comic book, this scene ended with Negan brutally beating Glenn to death.  But the show chose to leave the identity of Negan’s victim unresolved until season seven.  Question #3: Do you think the writers have settled on the outcome yet?  I have my doubts.

Why end the season in a way that you know will piss off viewers?  Scott Gimple seems to think the secret to The Walking Dead‘s success lies in social media.  All season, they have been intentionally trolling viewers to get them buzzing on Twitter.  This seems to be a strategy to keep the show relevant at the water cooler as ratings have finally begun to slip a little.  After the episode was over, AMC conveniently offered a hashtag in case anyone wanted to use it.

Six months is a long time to ask viewers to care about the identity of Negan’s mystery victim.  After an entire season in which the only character deaths were Alexandrians, Wolves and Saviors, they really needed to deliver something more than an IOU for next season.  When the identity of the deceased character is finally revealed, I don’t see how it can possibly carry much dramatic weight six months after the fact.  (And how much do you want to bet the show will make us wait an episode or two before revealing what actually happened?)

In the meantime, we have Fear the Walking Dead to look forward to/dread.  The first season of that show made the original program look good by comparison.  Let’s see if they can find a way to repeat that feat after this trainwreck.

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Posted on April 4, 2016, in TV, Walking Dead and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. I think I may have taken you this week, mate. You didn’t mention the big hole in this ep, the fact that the Saviors knew Rick was coming. They dragged that poor fellow out to the road to make an example of him to Rick before Rick and co. ever left the safe zone. They had those elaborate roadblocks, things that clearly took a lot of time and manpower, already established. While this would, on its face, require clairvoyance, one of my readers suggests an alternate solution: the Saviors were responsible for Maggie’s illness! So they knew this group would have to take her to Hilltop that day. I went one even further: perhaps they were even responsible for her pregnancy! Those Saviors plan ahead.

    Ninety minutes of an RV driving in circles. What a finale!

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    • You got me. I read your write-up and kicked myself a bit for not having articulated how ridiculous it was that the Saviors knew when and where to be at all times.

      I take some solace in the fact that fans are finally in an uproar. Towards the end of Talking Dead, even Chris Hardwick admitted that the tone of his tweets was an angry one. Of course Scott Gimple and Robert Kirkman gave a very patronizing answer about how the story wasn’t about who died but Rick’s fall and that next season will be about the fallout. But that’s a bunch of bullshit. There is not story-telling reason to drag out that reveal. It’s a stunt, pure and simple. They know it and for once the fans seem to know it too.

      Fans get the show they deserve. Keep praising TWD for this shit and you’re going to get more of it. Let the creators know they went too far and maybe they will think twice next season.

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      • Your Charley Brown reference was better than anything I’d written though. It’s actually the perfect metaphor.

        After the first roadblock, the Saviors could have known where Rick was going by watching the RV and simply radioing ahead. That doesn’t really allow for the time needed to set up the more elaborate roadblocks but it would have been somewhat more excusable. The problem is that they knew Rick was coming before Rick was coming. They caught that guy and explicitly told him he was going to serve as an example to someone of what happens when anyone defies them–an example for Rick. Then they all just stand in the road and wait. Meanwhile, back at the safe zone, no one has even left. Enid and Coral are arguing, everyone is insisting they want to go and all the rest. They couldn’t know Rick and co. were coming.

        I predicted TWD’s ratings would take a hit this season but I never imagined it would be as big a hit as they did take. The reliance on gimmicks this season is one abuse of the fans that the fans are finally starting to reject. The reaction today on the fan boards has been really fierce–virtually no one is defending it. The IMDb rating for it so far is 5.8! That’s really incredible. The way those ratings work, the fanboys all show up in force, often before an ep has even aired, and give it a 10, so no matter how bad an ep may be, it always ends up with an 8 or higher. This may be the lowest score of any ep of the series.

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  2. I had read speculation that they were going to go this route. As I’ve said before, I don’t watch anymore, but I still keep up via recaps. (I think I do it to convince myself I made the right decision in stopping. LOL) I immediately thought, “Oh no they wouldn’t–actually, yes, they would do that.”

    I had read other speculation that Negan was going to make Rick choose who got killed. I thought that would have been an interesting diversion from the comic.

    In any event, everyone I’ve talked to is furious–which I do find a little funny because as you pointed out the show has a well-documented history of this, especially this season.

    I wonder if the showrunners may have shot themselves in the foot, though. No matter who is dead, fans will be furious. If it’s Glenn, it makes the previous fake-outs look inept. If it’s another main character, fans will be angry about that, in addition to the wait. If it’s a character nobody cares about, then people will be mad they had to wait 6 months to figure that out and to agonize over nothing.

    And I suspect that spoilers for who it is will roll out during the summer as it becomes clear who is filming. (I tried looking for the cast’s contract information online just now and couldn’t find anything too definitive. I was also wondering if they hadn’t chosen the victim yet. If that’s true, this cliffhanger is a hell of a bargaining chip! “If you don’t agree with the terms of your contract, you can just talk to Lucille.”)

    I’ve heard a lot of “I quit!” after this finale, but I wonder if these people will still tune in. I’ve shouted that before at my tv while watching shows I still watch (Game of Thrones season 1!), but I do think The Walking Dead has squandered their audience’s faith in them, and the incentive to tune in and see what happens will be a moot point if the spoiler is revealed over the summer or if they continue to delay the reveal into season 7. (Which I can totally see happening!)

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    • Most of the fans are angry now but they will back in October. But I do think this stunt will cost them viewers in the long run.

      Liked by 1 person

      • True! It might depend on how they handle it in October. The first episode of season 7 may have a lot of viewers out of curiosity, but if they continue to delay or anger fans, the numbers could decline quite rapidly.

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        • I expect a pretty big turn out for the reveal. And I won’t be at all surprised if the show decides to delay the payoff for an episode or even two for that reason. Maybe they can string people out into watching a couple of episodes that way. But push too far and viewers stop caring. Once you reach a point where it just feels manipulative, a lot of people will stop caring. When that happens, the show’s days are numbered.

          I sense we may have started down that path this season.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Agreed!

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        • I wonder how they could even go about pushing this back an episode or two. The only thing I can think of is a Carol & Morgan episode maybe interlaced with all the people we don’t care about back at Alexandria. But if they go that route it is going to make for a really boring season opener.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Flashbacks. Flash forwards.

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  3. Negan was great. I never read the comics but everything I’d heard about him combined with JDM was spot on. However the giant middle finger they left us with was the last straw for me. Too many fakeouts, too many stretched out, poorly paced episodes. Too little pay off and then they do this.

    I was already on the fence with this season and this last tease pushed me far enough that I am no longer going to be a Charlie Brown. To slightly misuse the phrase, I’m taking my ball and going home. No more Walking Dead for me. I’ll find out who met Lucille when it inevitably is spoiled all over the internet. Probably well before the season premiere.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is no way they are able to keep that spoiler under wraps. We’ll know shortly after they beginning filming again.

      I am really interested in the fan reaction. I don’t think the showrunners realized how far they pushed their audience with GlennGate earlier this season. But this… it just shows such a lack of respect for their fanbase. And fans are finally picking up on it. It may be time to replace Scott Gimple.

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      • This series is very consistent and doesn’t kill anyone (except, sometimes, some background-noise characters) without ceremony. Abraham is the one they’ve set up for death. But making the death a season-ending mystery is a new one for TWD. Maybe they’ll break with tradition!

        This post is sort of a no-no for me. I strongly disapprove of that sort of speculation. When someone is going to die, it’s obvious and I tell people who it will be (unless the set-up happens in the same ep as the death).

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  4. Good job guys. You pretty much covered all the failures quite well. Truly this is a show that’s went from using a story-driven character-developing method to a pathetic, media-hyping, gimmick-riddled joke.

    A few observations: why the RV road trip in the first place? Is it even safe to move Maggie in her current state? We’re not sure of that I guess, since last week’s idiocy ended up with their only person with medical knowledge babbling blood bubbles with an arrow through her head. But wouldn’t it make more sense to send one person out on a dirt bike or ATV and simply fetch the obstetrician? Especially since an impending attack is on the way? As I mentioned before, radio communication with your only other allied group would be useful, but I think I’ve thrown enough water on this particular vat of stupidity acid.

    Anyway, they decide to pile in as many of their hardened fighters as possible aboard the RV even though Darryl, Glenn, Rosita and Michonne are already absent since this is tactically the stupidest thing you could possibly do and off they go into another exciting adventure! For what it’s worth, when they started running into one roadblock after another, my first thought was that there was a spy/double agent in their camp, sending info ahead to the Saviors. Then I realized this is TWD, and such reasoning is completely unnecessary; just leave such poorly-contrived developments unexplained as they are merely an means to an end: the group must be at Negan’s mercy for the big cliff-hanger scene at the end. How and why? Who cares?

    They find the road ‘blocked’ by some chained-up zombies. Eugene even points out that this is an obvious ambush. But does that stop them from all exiting the vehicle when they could have just driven the damn thing straight on through? Of course not: that wouldn’t waste time. Speaking of which, Carol and Morgan. When he tries to get her to come back, explaining the obvious, that she’s in MORE danger out here, she actually says something along the lines of “Why don’t you get it?” and then regurgitates her absolutely idiotic and nonsensical “I can’t stay because I can’t kill anymore” ‘explanation’… well sorry Carol, I STILL don’t ‘get it’…. even after having just mowed down those guys in the truck BECAUSE SHE LEFT, she looks at Morgan like HE’s an idiot, shaking her head because he still ‘doesn’t get it’…. I know I was shaking my head, but only because of how brutally incompetent and stupid this show actually is.

    There’s other completely moronic plot ‘developments’, like their failure to cover the overpass when they encounter what, their 3rd roadblock? But what’s the point in kicking this retarded horse anymore: the whole episode, nay, season boils down to the big Negan scene… which goes on way too long IMO, and came across as wooden. Maybe it’s because this actor really impressed me as The Comedian in the excellent Watchmen movie, (in that, he exuded pure menace in every scene) but I found this somewhat 2-dimensional and clunky but again, that’s just my opinion.

    Anyway, I for one, am totally looking forward to next season… just to see if it is actually possible for this show to get any worse.

    (Crosses fingers…)

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    • Those are all valid points and things that I have come to expect from a series that is about mindless zombies and the humans who are barely above them in tactics and compentency.

      A few people with the foresight to realize how absurd they were acting (everything you mentioned and more) would have prevented most of the scenes that happened but just like in a horror movie, everyone’s IQ needs to drop to get the story pointed in the right direction.

      I get it. People can act stupid in the heat of the moment, when something/one is trying to kill you and you are panicking but after the fourth or fifth time you should have started to react more smartly than they have this entire series. And even when they are not under that stress they still do dumb things like pretty much everything Rick and company have done for as long as I can remember.

      Without the writers shielding them had any of this been remotely real they would all be zombie chow several times over.

      But I overlooked all that because the show was otherwise entertaining enough to ignore it just like every horror movie where the protaganists go out of their way to get killed. The build up of problems culminating in this season combined with that cliffhanger has eroded my tolerance to its breaking point.

      Even had they showed who was killed it might not have been enough to keep me. There was a good chance I might have stuck around to at least see next season but not anymore.

      As it turns out even the cast (and possibly the writers themselves) don’t know who was killed yet so there was nothing to reveal to the audience.

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      • ” everyone’s IQ needs to drop to get the story pointed in the right direction.”

        I see what you’re suggesting here, and to a certain extent, I agree. However, there has been many examples of stupidity where alternate (and non-stupid) courses of action have been suggested just by people on this board that don’t rely on the characters suddenly becoming Larry Curley and Moe.

        This last episode for instance, without even giving it much thought, how about Negan and his vastly superior army and equipment simply lay siege to Alexandria? He’s got 4 hostages in tow, and is cutting off any help for poor Maggie and her unborn child.The unavoidable time-wasting speeches could then center on relevant moral arguments of the situation at hand, rather than idiotic prattle about having children or running away because you can’t kill any more. Even though you’re killing more than ever. Whatever.

        Point being the writing is simply lazy and incompetent. I am pretty sure they decided first of all, to have the Negan scene pretty much mirror the comic book. So to have that, they had to as you say, ‘drop the IQ’ and have their cast of characters make the most idiotic decisions imaginable in a series of pathetically contrived scenes until they get where they wanted. In essence, they wrote it backwards. Cart before the horse.

        If you’re straying from the source material anyway, why not make do it in an intelligent, sensible manner? I don’t know, but I suspect hubris.

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  5. I’m upset about the episode but not about the ending. The writing was consistent in being as inconsistent as ever. But still, thinking about the convoluted and ridiculous reasons everyone split up to go off on their own adventures just to allow them to all be captured separately and brought together drives me crazy. I guess its that it isn’t the usual one or two bad decisions, but the carefully crafted network of stupid decisions that were required to reach that point (combined with the omniscience of Negan’s group). The writers knew the endpoint they wanted to reach but didn’t put much effort into creating an interesting and realistic way to get them there.

    Given what they’ve done to Carol over the last few episodes I kind of wished she was part of the group captured by Negan. I’d rather kill her off than have to watch what the writers have turned her into.

    As for the death itself, I agree 100% that the 6 month break lessens the impact of the death. And if it is Glenn it will have even less impact. You can’t have two absurd cheats of death and expect me to take his death seriously. Even if he is really gone, the fake outs used up my shock and concern over his death.

    Liked by 1 person

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