Hello and welcome to “Gut Check: The Walking Dead” where I spout off at the mouth about the most recent episode as soon as it is done airing. No thought, no research just the feeling in the moment. Let’s begin.
Tonight on The Walking Dead: You Took a Fine Time to Meet Me Lucille
Alternate Title 1: My Kingdom for a Horse
Alternate Title 2: Grand Theft Zombie 5
The Walking Dead
Last Day on Earth
That was… anticlimactic. We got the scene we all knew was coming: Negan, Lucille, a whole bunch of our main cast, and a black screen. We know someone ate barbed wired, but we have no idea who. It felt cheap, like a ploy to get speculation running on social media until the show returns in October. It all came across like a dull thud.
The entire episode was built pretty poorly. Rick and the RV gang of Abraham, Eugene, Maggie, Carl, Aaron, and Sasha played a rousing game of Red Rover with the Saviors. Everywhere that the RV went, a larger group of Saviors was waiting. As it was happening it felt pointless and like it was being used to pad the episode to make a full 90 minutes. In the end we were given an explanation by Negan that he was escalating to show the Survivors just who they were dealing with. It made sense, but it still felt too much like filler.
I did love the Carol and Morgan side story, seeing them act off each other is fun, and their chemistry gets stronger every time. Carol pretty much told Morgan that he was right, but in the end he had to break his philosophy to save her. It produced a nice dichotomy and gave us a payoff to a season long story. It also lead to them meeting people from another community that comic fans know very well. I am looking forward to seeing how this story plays out as it had me way more riveted than the main tale.
Other good parts of the episode included the zombie chain gang and Abraham and Sasha have a gruff heart to heart talk. The best bits however, belonged to Eugene. Yes, I know, I am sucker for the mullet-come-ponytailed one, I have no shame about it. Josh McDermitt brings humor and charm to every scene he gets, even when they are few and far between. Tonight the most powerful and moving scene was Eugene stepping up, coming up with a plan and executing. It was scored with perfect music and he got to have a bromantic moment with Abraham and a heroic moment with Rick. Then he hops behind the wheel of the RV and… No climax, we never saw him captured, he just was. Way to build to a potentially great scene and just *plop*. It was unsatisfying and undercut a great moment.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan was well cast as Negan, but I don’t feel he was well-directed. He just didn’t feel like a guy we should fear. He was a bit undone by his henchman, played by Steven Ogg (of Grand Theft Auto 5 fame), who was just playing it to the hilt and seemed to enjoy every minute. After that Negan felt a bit restrained and not particularly dangerous. I know Morgan has the chops for it, it just didn’t feel like he was all the way into it.
The back half of season 6 was possibly the best run of the Walking Dead to date, but it ended with little satisfaction. Some folks may like the cliffhanger, heck, I love cliffhangers, but this felt hollow and unearned. Going back to the “is Glenn dead” cliff hanger, it was too soon for another death related cliffhanger. The story may have been better served if it ended before Negan even came out, and give some of that extra time to what happened with Eugene, and bit to Carol and Morgan. As it stands, I appreciate what they tried to do. Maybe it is my fault, I went with high expectations thanks to knowing the story and a strong half season, but the execution of the episode was lackluster. I guess a good run can never last on the Walking Dead.
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Tags: AMC, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Negan, Walking Dead