So that was big wind-up to the sixth season of “The Walking Dead” — an hour and 30 minutes of teasing and tension, we ended with a “what happened” and “now I have to wait another six months before we find out who bit the dust?" We aren’t being blood-thirsty; this is, after all, that gripping drama about life during the zombie apocalypse.
The whole season has been one big tease and an unfair one to viewers. There was Glenn’s (played by Steven Yeun) faux death in the third episode of the season and the mid-season finale where the Alexandrians leave the house with undead entrails all over them to mask their escape. During that cliffhanger, you know that it is all going to turn bloody when Sam begins calling out to his mother, Jessie. And now, in the grand tradition of Dallas’ “Whodunit?” (look that up Millennials) there’s “whodead?”
I can understand the suspense of the cliffhanger. All season long, they have been building towards this dread ending with the name “Negan” spoken with equal parts reverence and equal parts fear. The Saviors, the latest and deadliest adversaries of Rick Grimes’ merry and not-so-merry band of survivors, are in for revenge. The Saviors have taken quite a beating at the hands of Grimes’ band. Now, at every turn, they block their passage to the Hilltop. They wouldn’t have been in that predicament in the first place had they not allowed their only doctor, Denise to go out only to be killed by the nefarious Dwight who turns out to be a key henchman for the Saviors.
That in itself is maddening. There is no discipline in Alexandria. I thought that Deanna ran a tighter ship than Rick who has his moments as a leader but also seems too emotionally caught up in other moments. And that is his undoing in this season. He could have kept some of the Saviors alive for interrogation. So much for intelligence gathering. As a former lawman, he is making fundamental mistakes. Now his lack of enforcement of discipline and arrogance in underestimating the Saviors will now see someone dead.
And speaking of dead, Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan seemed like a casting home run. I remember him from "Grey’s Anatomy" playing a dead man walking in Denny Duquette and playing the role of “the Comedian” in “The Watchmen.” Contrasting roles but there’s the right amount of sadness, craziness, and angst in there and that’s required for this "Walking Dead" villain.
But I wasn’t sure about the impact in those last 10 minutes. Morgan’s Negan could have made a far more menacing impact than than David Morrissey did as the Governor in Season 3 considering he was holding a baseball bat wrapped with barbwire. The Governor merely dispatched a deceased American soldier who had been turned. The last few episodes of the season showed Polaroids of heads bashed in and no doubt the handiwork of Negan.
With Rick seemingly broken again at how truly helpless he is and that he has been outsmarted, I think they missed the opportunity for an explosive wind-up.
I am really not sure what direction they are taking with Morgan and Carol. It is nice to see them struggle with their humanity however, given everything they have experienced and continue to do so, but this pacifist philosophy in the zombie apocalypse where the biggest danger is not the undead but the living is bound to cost even more problems. Morgan is being set up for a huge fall.
And that leaves us to the last question, so who bites the dust? "The Walking Dead" is like "Game of Thrones," you become invested in characters whose death’s tear at us. From all indications, not even the cast knows who is out. The simple process of elimination finds Rick and his son Carl out. Glenn, I think is safe.
While the television series tends to align with the comic book at certain parts, it has a life of its own. I hate to think after the faux death of Glenn in the third episode, they’d be so cruel to finally cast him off. Aaron (Ross Marquand) seems improbable. It would be such a cheap way to send him of to a celluloid death since he has hardly been used. If you look at the deaths of Hershel and Dale, they were the moral compasses of the cast. They played huge roles leading up to their deaths. I’d hate to think there is a pattern because if anyone provides that moral compass now, it’s… gasp… Morgan.
So I’d say that it will come down to any of the three characters that have recently been given a lot of screen time — Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), Rosita (Christian Serratos), or Eugene (Josh McDermitt).
But oh, boy. What a seventh season this is going to be.
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