Well, it’s here. The Governor, The Hunters, The Wolves and now, The Saviors. It’s interesting to me that all of these villains or groups seek to enforce their will on other people, and our heroes, to their detriment. Yet the term “Ricktatorship” is lobbed around a lot when the group makes decisions. To me, the entire point of the show is telling the stories of people who had lives before the outbreak, but were not truly free until their former lives were ripped away. Anyone who tries to threaten that odd freedom is a villain. Anyway, let’s see what happens.
Morgan meets a horse, Miles is still after Carol, and Maggie isn’t doing so hot. This is the most worrisome plot element to me because Judith just can’t be the only baby born in the post apocalypse. Life HAS to go on. Rick, Sasha, Abraham and Eugene all pile into the RV, meanwhile Carl is loading up to go with. Enid wants to join, as her and Maggie have gotten closer during this season, but Carl is adamant that she stay. Meanwhile, someone, not from Hilltop I don’t think, is about to find out what happens when you defy the Saviors. As the Saviors set upon this poor bastard, Carl locks Enid in a closet to keep her from coming along. It’s a particularly bittersweet moment because she reveals that she has feelings for Carl, but he gives her a bit of her own wisdom in response to that very important question, “what happens if you don’t come back?”
“JSS”...just survive somehow. Haunting words given what’s coming.
I thought I had a pretty good idea of who was going to meet Lucille based on the past few episodes but once Aaron talks his way into the Maggie Caravan, my heart sank. He is definitely my favorite minor character on the show. Father Gabriel reassures Rick that unlike what’s happened in the past, he’s ready to defend his flock, and Judith in particular. I really enjoyed his path from a sniveling coward to a badass man of God. Spencer mentions the possibility of negotiating with the Saviors in case they attack, which is very important.
Morgan finds a wounded Carol and it’s an enjoyable moment. Their fates are uncertain and they both have wildly opposing philosophies on life in this ruined world, but in that moment, two friends have been reunited. Imposed on this scene is our poor stranger getting dragged into the middle of the road by the Saviors, to be made as an example.
All this before the opening credits? Fuck, let me slow down on the beer chugging and process for a bit. The Maggie Rescue Team is en route to Hilltop, and Rick tries to give her reassurance. I think this scene was particularly sad, because if anyone knows about loss, it’s Maggie. She’s lost her entire family and the prospect of losing her baby is very gut wrenching. The RV comes across the Saviors and their poor victim and they exchange threats. It’s hard not to shake one’s head at Rick’s bravado, knowing the nature of this show. Winning the war is not so great when you keep losing battles. They set out on an alternate, supposedly safer route to Hilltop. Meanwhile Morgan tries to talk Carol into coming back to Alexandria but their fundamental differences create an impasse.
The Maggie Rescue Team encounters another group of Saviors but are oddly allowed to turn around and leave without incident. If it hasn’t dawned on Rick that they have strength in numbers, and certainly a penchant for violence, he needs to wake the hell up. Checking back in with Morgan and Carol, it’s made apparent that they’re hiding out in the same library that our nameless victim had mentioned. Morgan sees firsthand the aftermath of the Saviors’ cruelty, and also finds out Carol has given him the slip. I’m not too confident about the horse’s longevity given what happened to the last one, but Morgan mounts up and gives chase.
The Maggie Rescue Team is once again harrowed by Saviors, this time in the form of a walker roadblock and shooters in the trees. There are some ominous signs that were seemingly left on the walkers on purpose. One walker has one of Michonne’s dreads on her, and another has one of Daryl’s crossbow bolts lodged in his chest. The idea of the Saviors having superior numbers hasn’t shaken Rick, but the idea of yet another love of his in danger finally gets to him. They escape once again but one wonders how long it will be before they run out of roads. Indeed, it’s becoming clear that the Saviors are controlling where our heroes are going with these roadblocks. Before they get into this predicament, Abraham tells Sasha that he doesn’t want Glenn and Maggie to be the only new parents at the end of the world. In any other episode this would have been a sweet moment between the couple, but given the stakes in the season finale, I’m worried about anyone who shows hopefulness or bravery.
Sure enough, the group comes across yet another group of Saviors and this time they have nowhere else to go. Come on, guys, let’s get this Negan thing over with.
Morgan is somehow still way behind a wounded Carol, who finds herself beset on all sides by walkers (her literally tearing the scalp off of one was pretty damn remarkable, effects wise) and by Miles, who gets the upper hand and tells her how much he’s going to savor her slow death. It comes as no satisfaction since Carol is very much ready to go, to be free of the burden of living in this world, even laughing at Miles’ attempts at being threatening. Her attitude throws him off long enough for Morgan to arrive and intervene. He tries to give Miles an out but in the end, Morgan finds out first hand that sometimes you don’t have a choice. He completely blasts Miles with the gun given to him by Rick. While trying to tend to Carol, he meets members of yet another group, the benevolent Knights. It didn’t really occur to me that they might be incorporated into the show this season but it really is a welcome pinpoint of light in this grim episode, and it’s odd that their reveal got so little screen time or fanfare.
Realizing they’re being relentlessly harrowed by the Saviors, the Maggie Rescue Team comes up with a play. They take Maggie on foot while Eugene takes the RV and runs a distraction. Both Rick and Abraham give Eugene the validation he’s been working toward since he decided he didn’t want to be a cowardly non-participant. The bro hug between him and Abraham was indeed a great, heartwarming moment, but it just means bad things are on the horizon. As they part ways, Eugene takes a moment to make peace with his decision, his ascension to the next level, and his rebirth as a hero.
Such a victory is not meant to last, however, because even though their plan should have worked, our heroes are once again accosted by Saviors and they have already taken Eugene as a hostage. Personally, my favorite villain on the show will always be the Governor, but no one has ever made a more disturbing debut than Negan. The cacophony of the whistling genuinely creeped me out.
Rick, Abraham, Sasha, Aaron, Carl and even Maggie are made to kneel and they are joined by Daryl, Michonne, Glenn and Rosita. Pretty much, if you gave a shit about a character on this show, they’re all up on the chopping block at this point.
Negan makes his entrance and I have to say, part of my dislike for him in the comics was his appearance. He just LOOKED like a smug asshole. Never mind that he killed my favorite character, he just looked like a dick. However, Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s take on Negan won me over. He’s still a sadistic, cocky asshole but somehow...charming? I honestly enjoyed the buildup, his pacing back and forth, his ease with violence, and how they handled a vulgar character on a show that doesn’t allow THAT much swearing. Like I said, I will always love David Morrissey’s Governor, but this casting choice was the best idea these people have had in years.
So I really wasn’t that mad when the episode ended and someone did in fact meet Lucille but they didn’t show whom, opting for a first person perspective on the savage battering. It was probably the most bullshit season finale I’ve ever seen on this show, or in television in general. First, it wasn’t over nearly as quickly as it was shown in the show. Maybe they’ll draw the scene out a bit longer in the premier of season seven, but Negan takes his time in caving in someone’s skull. The point of the killing was to put fear in the rest of the group and to make a point, that while murder isn’t personal for him, he has no problem in making it personal.
Second, the whole reason we’re hanging on to this show is to see how the Negan storyline plays out. To deny viewers one of two major plot points, his debut and his defeat, the former being something that has been hyped for so long is basically just trolling. Fans have been preparing themselves for quite a while to say goodbye to someone, had steeled their nerves, and had pretty much made this finale their make or break episode. We were ready for a huge loss, and what did we get? Jack shit.
I predicted last week that there would be a lot of anger over this finale, and in a sense, I was right. But right in the worst way possible. See you next season, maybe.
Written by A Play On Nerds contributor, Jerry Herrera - Lover of horror, sci fi, and fantasy in that order. Semi-permanent Disneyland resident. I'm at least one of the droids you're looking for. Twitter: @FrankenJerry - Instagram: @GeraldoPedro