Fifteen minutes. The last year of our lives, in respect to The Walking Dead, anyway, all culminated in fifteen minutes of screen time from Negan. Countless interviews of cast members crying and smoke screens set up to get us wondering who it could be that gets Lucille’d and what we end up with is blue balls. Was it enough to spoil the enjoyment of the episode or the show? That’s up to you. Here’s our interpretation:
Morgan is Eastman 2.0: Now that Morgan has realized his mission of saving Carol’s soul, it’s pretty satisfying to see him make the transformation into teacher from student. After the past few episodes of juggling with his ideology and its practicality, we can’t help but cheer for him when he accepts the belief that while all life is precious, some lives are more precious than others. Morgan, like Eastman before him, had the luxury of being able to apply the teachers of Akido in the Apocalypse to just his own person. So, to see Morgan merge the reality of his world with the strength of his belief system is truly an evolution of the character.
Gabriel: When did he step up? Man, that guy used to be the weak link. His robotic delivery of the plan for Alexandria and Judith to Rick was inspiring. If Gabriel, the pastor who used to be a bumbling nervous wreck, can tote a gun and be in charge of defense, then we call can.
Saviors are fucking terrifying: The last time this television show felt like a legitimate horror show (besides perhaps “The Same Boat“) was back in Terminus (“No Sanctuary“) when characters were bled out over the troughs. Since the show has really exploded into pop culture stardom, the show has really strayed from its horror label. “Last Day on Earth” fully embraced the terror that the Survivors felt. The Walking Dead has spent the last half-season building up Rick’s ego, making him think that the Alexandrians were untouchable, and in “Last Day On Earth,” that confidence was deconstructed methodically and without any results. By the time they were all sitting in front of The Saviors, the look of dread on Andrew Lincoln’s face was completely believable. Oh, and the hell if we’re going to be able to hear a whistle the same way for a long time.
Eugene manning the fuck up: The show has been hinting at this moment for a while now, but Eugene finally starts peacocking with a leg to stand on. It’s been a long journey for Eugene – one that kind of culminated in Eugene performing amateur circumcision on Dwight to save his friends. There were several moments in the finale that made it easy to cheer for Eugene, and he became more than just an idiot savant with some funny mullet jokes. If he managed to make it out of this season alive – and we’re pretty confident he did – then he should fill some of the leadership void that The Survivors will need to take on The Saviors.
Negan: His fifteen minutes of fame are here… almost quite literally! He was charming. He was funny. Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s interpretation of the comic villain was deliciously brilliant. Negan maybe one of the reasons people come back next season.
Is it about ratings?: Hell yes. This was all about ratings. And it is leaving a bad taste in our mouths. Sixteen episodes were all just a lead up to a giant f***ing cliffhanger. This is the third time the writers have given us this trope in a season. First for weeks we questioned whether Glenn was alive. Then we speculated on the well-being of Daryl. And now we are left to ask “Who is it?” We were ready to cope with the death of whoever was picked. However, the writers feel it necessary to string us along so they can get a ton of viewers for the season 7 premiere. That is a plan that could really backfire on them. Quite honestly, people will most likely distance themselves since they were just duped for a year. And the “trauma” of the death won’t be as impactful in October.
Do the writers even know?: Lauren Cohen confirmed that the cast doesn’t know in her pre-recorded interview on The Talking Dead. Chandler Riggs said the same thing last night on his Twitter:
if it makes you feel any better i still don't know who got killed and it's been like 6 months since i read the script #whoisit
— chandler riggs (@chandlerriggs) April 4, 2016
Today, an interview with Greg Nicotero was released in which he stated that he isn’t sure that the actor who it is knows. We discussed the possibility that the writers don’t even know who they killed off. That is lazy writing. They knew they would be getting to this point sometime. If they can’t make the decision, then they should have gone a different direction.
Build-up = predictability: Also discussed amongst Hush Comics before the beginning the episode was, “What if they just do a first person shot of Negan swinging his bat, and then the screen just cuts to black, and we don’t find out until Season 7?” Are you kidding me? We predicted that whole thing before it even happened? We like the surprise. We like the suspense. We like the tension. Don’t let us down with NOTHING.
We don’t hate Negan: Here is the thing about Negan. He is charismatic and cunning. As a reader, you hate that you like him. Think Walter White or Donald Draper, but a murdering scumbag with an affinity for the “F” word. Except we don’t think that the audience was made to hate him. If anything, we really like the guy. If we were supposed to hate Negan, show us who he killed, and let us stew on it for the next six months. That would do the trick.
Lower viewership: Look, read whatever fluff pieces you want about how the cliffhanger isn’t a big deal, and how every season ends on a cliffhanger, but if you read the cues on social media or watched the follow-up episode of Talking Dead, then perhaps you picked up on the hint that nobody knows where the show goes from here. It’s just us being cynical, but unless Gimple and Co. come back extremely strong, then The Walking Dead could see a sizable drop in ratings.
Morgan’s Kingdom: We’ll talk about it a little later, but due to the sheer hilarity that a character like Ezekiel brings to the table, it might be a legitimate option to have Morgan stay with The Kingdom and eventually run it. While it seems Morgan’s stock is definitely on the rise, Carol’s fate is completely ambiguous. Will she find a will to live?
Negan > Governor: You may not believe it yet, but you will end up loving to hate Negan way more than The Governor. While The Governor was just kinda psycho, Negan is just trying to run the show – and his recruitment methods are hard to argue with. If Jeffrey Dean Morgan can continue on with his spot-on performance, Negan is going to make fans really struggle with whether or not he is a good guy… or at least a bad guy you can be okay cheering for.
The Walking Dead Easter Eggs & Other Tidbits:
JSS: Right after Carl pulls a dick move and locks Enid in the closet, he tells her that if he dies, she’s supposed to “just survive somehow.” It’s lame and corny, but it’s a reference to another episode, so we had to add it in here.
Carol giving up on life: When Carol is at the library pouting herself to death, it’s a callback to Issue #42 in the comic books, where a failed attempt to ask for a threesome with Rick and Lori sends her over the edge (see, Lori is a total bitch!) in a suicidal attempt to get a hug from a walker. Comic book Carol was a freakin weirdo, okay? She was weak and creepy and Michonne stole her man (Tyreese). This should be a testament to just how much stronger she has become in the show.
Meet The Kingdom: Those dweebs in paintball pads? Yeah, those guys are part of another settlement we have yet to meet – The Kingdom. The comic book has had some pretty ridiculous stuff so far, but nothing takes the cake quite like the Kingdom, a group of year-round Renaissance Festival employees that are loyal subjects to a large, old black man named Ezekiel in a magician’s shirt… with a pet tiger. If the show is going to at least attempt to take itself seriously, they will have to try to modernize this group – hence the para-military pads.
Survivor!: There Abraham and Eugene go again, dropping that magic word when Eugene is about to drive off in the RV. Spoke too soon, maybe?
Not a good time to believe in Rick Grimes: It happens almost 20 issues later in the comic books, but this quote comes up when Maggie is trying to convince The Hilltop to join Rick in his war against The Saviors. It was a much bigger moment in the comic books than in the show, especially considering that not even Rick Grimes believed in himself by the end of that episode.
Welcome to the Negan Show: Sure the episode was 90 minutes long (yeah, right. Can we talk about how many commercials there were?), but the last 10 minutes were what we really showed up for. Negan’s emergence from the RV was spectacular. Minus some PG-13 language, the monologue that Negan has at the end was entirely ripped out of the comic book panels. Dare we say, it was delivered BETTER than the source material?
Hush Comics gives “Last Day on Earth” a C+ for building up the suspense – so high, in fact, that not even the showrunners know what will happen next. And that’s kind of the problem.
All images belong to AMC and are credited to Gene Page. The comic book images belong to Image Comics and are credited to Charlie Adlard and Robert Kirkman.