by Sherry Lipp
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
It’s sad to see The Walking Dead fall victim to its own hype. The second half of the season has been a long, slow build up to the appearance of the mythical Negan. I know fans of the comic book already know who he is and what he is capable of, but for non-readers, like myself, the anticipation is a product of media hype.
“I’ve heard he makes the Governor seem like Mr. Rogers,” a co-worker told me. Headlines promised that we won’t even believe how evil he can be. Okay. Do I want an even worse bad guy than we’ve had before? Honestly I don’t know that I do, but when we finally did get around to Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), there wasn’t all that much to see. Not that Morgan didn’t make the most of his brief appearance, because he did, at the very least, give us a sense of what kind of person Negan is.
If the build up throughout the second half of the season hadn’t been enough, “Last Day on Earth” spent the majority of its 90-minute running time having Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln) drive around in circles in an RV. It felt like the mouse-caught-in-a-maze routine was just a way to postpone the inevitable.
And guess what? The episode ended on a cliffhanger that just doesn’t work. I’m not opposed to cliffhangers, but this one felt cheap. The real cliffhanger is what is Rick going to do now? But what this episode decided to end on is a trick. It’s the more social media friendly discussion point, who does Negan kill? Didn’t they realize that not knowing is less shocking than if we did know? Let’s just say we saw Daryl (Norman Reedus) get taken out in the last seconds of the season finale, or any of the others? Wouldn’t that have been the heart-wrenching shock they were looking for, while we still pondered what was going to happen next?
What worked much better in the episode was the parallel story between Morgan (Lennie James) and Carol (Melissa McBride). I’m not sure what’s with Carol’s sudden loss of heart, but maybe she’s depressed or has just had enough, but she’s the only character they’ve given this much development to. Even though she and Morgan were mortal enemies only a short time ago, he killed someone to save her. Maybe it’s because he’s seen this change in her that he thinks she’s worth saving. I liked that their storyline was so personal. It felt real in the context of the world they are living in.
Probably my favorite thing about “Last Day on Earth” was that Morgan met new people who didn’t want to kill him. This show needs more of that. There needs to be some sign that people want to move on from just wandering and fighting. I’m hoping they do more with this and with the people they met in the Hilltop community. I’ve had enough torture for a while.
I’m skipping What’s cool and what’s not this week, because I think I pretty much said everything in the write up. But I will give my thoughts on “who it is:”
Michonne: I wasn’t really thinking Michonne (Danai Gurira) when the episode ended, but now that I’ve had 24 hours to think about it, I’m leaning toward her. Her relationship with Rick seemed to have come out of nowhere, and this could be the perfect reason why they threw in that emotional element.
Glenn: He has escaped death so many times that I wouldn’t be surprised if Glenn’s (Steven Yeun) number is finally up. Then again, that would make his hiding under the dumpster survival all the more lame. But, maybe they are going to follow the comic book with this one.
Daryl: “If Daryl dies we riot” started long ago, but it can’t last forever. Daryl (Norman Reedus) had one of the earliest run ins with Negan’s men and was the first to make a kill, so Negan probably had it mind to kill him already. And let’s face it, Reedus has been heavily promoting his new motorcycle show on AMC, not that he can’t do both.
Abraham: I think Negan may see Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) as a threat because he appears to be the muscle of the group and Abraham isn’t one to follow orders.
Eugene: Negan may see Eugene (Josh McDermitt) as weak and useless. He also may have seen him as an easy target for the first kill. Eugene probably didn’t win any points with Negan by driving the RV by himself while the others tried to get away.
Those are my top choices. Who knows, maybe I’ll be wrong and it’ll be someone totally different. I guess we’ll find out in October.