Negan finally appears on ‘The Walking Dead’ season 6 finale: was he worth the wait?

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes; Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes - The Walking Dead _ Season 6, Episode 16 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes; Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes – The Walking Dead _ Season 6, Episode 16 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

By RODNEY HO/ rho@ajc.com, originally filed Sunday, April 3, 2016

“As long as it’s all of us, we can do anything!” – Rick to Maggie

Rick loves making arrogant pronouncements when we all know it’s all for naught.

He and his crew were herded like cattle to slaughter by the Saviors during the season 6 finale of “The Walking Dead.” But leader Negan is a fair and just man. He is choosing to kill only one of the following: Carl, Rick, Michonne, Glenn, Maggie, Eugene, Rosita, Abraham, Aaron, Daryl, Sasha. The Enviable Eleven. And in the final moments of the season finale, he whacks one to death.

But because “The Walking Dead” producers are being jerks to us viewers, they don’t tell us who. We see the bat hit the victim and then black out, with crunches of the head getting battered. We won’t know until October, 2016, six to seven months from now.

You can’t blame Negan for doing what he’s doing. Rick’s group killed dozens of his men and women without provocation. A lot of his army. He has good reason to off all of them.

He doesn’t do that. That would prematurely gut the show of its primary cast. Instead, he wants them as slaves to him. He knows they’re useful and productive. Why not?

Logically, Negan should kill leader Rick. Cut the snake’s head off! Why is he vacillating? Why does he spend so much time pontificating? Because it’s a TV show and bad guys on TV shows love to needlessly blather on.

Negan actually doesn’t reveal much about his grand plan or why he’s so successful. He’s not Donald Trump. He is a doer. He toyed with Rick for the entire episode. This is simply the denouement of Rick’s reckless actions. His efforts to “take over” the Hilltop failed miserably – and at great cost.

The writers also conjured up a way to get nearly all the key players to show up in one place outside of Alexandria – even pregnant Maggie, who got ill and needed the Hilltop doctor since Denise is dead. (Question: doesn’t Alexandria now have a massive cache of antibiotics? Couldn’t someone figure out how to treat her?)

Otherwise, here’s what we’ve learned:

  • Eugene is a “survivor” and earns the respect of Abraham when he volunteers to drive the RV alone to certain death. Instead, he is captured – again – by the Saviors.
  • Carol wants to die alone. Her rationale: she can’t go on killing to save the ones she loves. Morgan, who has found the horse of the guy from last episode, finds her and tries to convince her otherwise. He fails. She is already weak from a bullet wound, is probably fated to perish. He does eventually leave after she half-heartedly points a gun at him. Apropos of nothing, Morgan kills a hanging zombie. Carol gets nearly bitten by a walker, then the dude she didn’t realize she had left alive last episode tackles her and starts shooting her little by little to ensure she has an especially gruesome slow death. She is fine with that at this point. She doesn’t care anymore. He shoots her right arm, then her right leg. Then Morgan comes along and shoots the Savior. He breaks his rules about letting the living live to save Carol. Morgan is da man. Then magically, the dude who missed his horse shows up dressed like he had just finished a football game. He is clearly a good guy because he looks like Prince Charming. He and his friend will help Morgan and Carol – and perhaps next season eventually help Rick’s crew. Yes, there aren’t just Wolves and Saviors out there. These folks appear to be good guys.
  • Gabriel is left behind with Spencer at Alexandria to defend the fortress – along with Judith. Rick actually trusts him now!
  • Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays Negan with bemusement. He’s dark but seemingly not as dark as the Governor yet. His character feels like a restrained version of some Nicholas Cage character: just a wee bit unhinged, a man who clearly embraces the ethos of the zombie apocalypse and the decisions he gets to make. He is a leader who has truly risen to the occasion. And his disciples learn from the best. Negan even chooses to kill one of Rick’s crew by using “Eenie Meenie, Miney Mo” because it’s entertaining. We must be entertained!

TALKING DEAD

Norman Reedus: “Negan is kind of the star of his own movie. That’s the truth. He kills without any feelings. He enjoys it. He does it with a smile on his face. That’s his thing.”

Scott Gimple: “When you reveal who’s on the receiving end there., that’s the start of the story” next season. “The kickback effects of that. How people react. That’s the next part of the story.”

Robert Kirkman: “Negan was introduced in the 100th episode of the comic. I wanted to come in with a big punch and shake things up. I think for a TV show to go into its seventh season and have this huge event that will skyrocket things for seasons to come… it puts everything in a great place.”


View Comments 5