The writing team of the Walking Dead gave their fans an epic end to an incredibly intense season on Sunday and not everyone was satisfied with the cliffhanger ending. As a fan that has been on this roller coaster ride of emotions from the very beginning, I understand why they did what they did, but I don’t think they accomplished anything more than pissing people off. As always, here is your first and final spoiler alert so if you haven’t seen the finale, you have been warned.
I want to start off by saying that cliffhangers have been part of TWD formula, from the very beginning. These cliffhangers leave their viewers screaming at the screen, their mouths wide open and fans running to the internet for possible answers on blog sites like this. We instinctively search to find some resolution to the adversity these characters are facing because the emotional connection we have formed over the years, makes them feel more like friends instead of actors in a fantasy world.
One of the reasons there was such a reaction to this episode is due to the success of the comic book series. This season six finale episode was based off the 100th issue of the comic book, and is undeniably the most intense moment of the graphic novel series. This moment changed so much for the characters and made us all see this post-apocalyptic world in a different light. Like many long awaited movies based on your favorite book, we all had expectations of what this episode would bring.
The show has been leading up to Neagan’s introduction for weeks, and fans have been pining for (or dreading depending on who you ask) a resolution to this upcoming conflict. Neagan is such an evil character he made the governor look like bush league villain. The writers wanted to bring a comparison between Neagan’s character and Rick’s because they are both serving in the same capacity among their groups. Up until now we have been on Rick’s side, even when the acts he commits could be perceived as ethically questionable. This comparison brings new depth and dimension to the characters and development is one of the reasons the fan base is so great.
This build up where Neagan and Glenn finally meet, comes after the cheap camera tricks played by the producers earlier in the season, where Glenn found himself miraculously saved by a dumpster after we had been led to believe otherwise. However this entire plot line with Ingrid that was added by the television writers only intensified the build up to this epic moment. Yes everyone loves Glenn, but if he is not the first on screen victim of Lucielle, many fans will lose faith in the writers of the show, myself included.
The fan world has been speculating about this pivotal character introduction from the beginning, however keeping to the source material has never been the goal of the show’s creative team. Habitually the writers have changed events, added characters, and added sub plot lines that change the way that we see these characters develop emotionally. Fans are not upset about the delineation from the original content, they are upset because the effect that the writers were hoping for, cheapened this incredible moment.
Why not show the person who we lost, and why not give resolution to all this build up? Had they shown, whoever it was that saw the business end of Neagan’s bat, it wouldn’t have taken away from what they were intending. We would still be on the edge of our seats to see how this changes the group’s world and how this changes our character’s place in it. It only succeeded at pissing fans off and left us weary of what else the writers will do to depreciate the source material.
On talking dead, Chris Hardwick asked Robert Kirkman and Scott Gimple why they decided to write the finale like this, and they defended their choice because they wanted fans to focus more on the “change of power” than the event itself. Kirkman was hoping to get us to see that Rick went into this superhero confrontation with all the optimism in the world, and came out a shocked, helpless child. Yes this is a powerful thing, and yes I guess that point was achieved, but executing this event in this way, was gratuitous and unnecessary.
In an interview on the Today show, Norman Reedus made the comment that this was done intentionally and defended the writer’s choice. No this is not supposed to be a “survivor island” where each week we tune in to see who makes it to the credits. On the other side, this is also not supposed to be a cheap excuse to keep fans wanting more. This show has always been about storytelling a struggle of what happens when the world falls apart.
Fans all over the internet are analyzing each screen of the final seconds of the episode for some indication of who really faced Neagan’s wrath. I understand that wanting for resolution, but I feel like making the victim any other character than Glenn, would cheapen this television tactic even more than it already has been by the writers. Glenn is supposed to die, it’s just that simple.
The fans have joked that if Daryl dies, we riot. With Norman Reddus having a new movie coming out and an AMC show about motorcycles, many fans feel like it may be him who is out of the picture. As a huge fan of the actor and character, I would typically look at this as an indication of his inevitable demise, but that is not what I think happened. From a writing standpoint, even though the effect of killing Daryl would be substantial loss for the group, I feel like the impact would be greater if it was Glenn who didn’t make it.
In this world, Glenn really has the most to lose. With Maggie having issues with the baby, his death would be the ultimate insult to the family dynamic Rick has tried so hard to create. It would perpetuate the themes that the graphic novels and the show has always perpetuated. As soon as you have something worth having, a dream ideal from the pre-apocalypse world, it is taken away due to the violent and evil nature of humanity.
The best way to show this theme, is to take away the father, friend, and essential member of the group that has made it this entire time without having to become the monster that almost every other lead character has had to become. Yes fans will be mad, but it has to happen because by the writers not showing us who died on Sunday, we are left on the edges of our seats wanting resolution. When they come back, if anyone else other than Glenn was pummeled to death, it will be a letdown for the fans that love the lore of this world so much.