If you've finished Season 6 of The Walking Dead — and, for the love of Daryl, please stop reading if you have not! — then you're probably still reeling from the final scene.
The thing is, fans aren't upset because one of their beloved characters got smashed to smithereens with a wired bat; they're upset because we didn't get to find out who it was.
Still, The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman is sticking by his decision, telling EW how much he's enjoyed getting Negan onto our screens at last:
“I think that for a TV show to be going into its seventh season and to get this huge event that is going to skyrocket things for many season to come… I feel like it’s puts everything in a great place. So I think Negan’s arrival on the show is absolutely awesome.
"I’m feeling, oddly, great. I’m very excited where it’s at. What’s happening in the show is extremely sad and extremely depressing but I think it’s going to put us into a good place going into season 7.”
Walking Dead writer/producer Scott M. Gimple took a similar stance:
“The end of the story is what people saw. And when we reveal who was on the receiving end there, that’s going to be the start of another story. The kickback effects from that, what it makes everyone into, how people react, how the world changes for everyone, that’s the next part of the story.”
OK guys, that's all very well, but you gotta admit that a lot of Walking Dead fans are seriously unhappy about the cliffhanger ending — and that's putting it mildly. Vote for who you think was killed here, then read Kirkman's defense of the cliffhanger:
“First of all, as a fan, I love cliffhangers. I love that tension. I love the anticipation of finding out what it is. If you read the comic book series, I think pretty much every issue ends with a big cliffhanger… And I think that’s a lot of fun. But this story, the cliffhanger isn’t the story.
"The story of the episode, and Scott and Matt Negrete did such a great hob of setting up how confident Rick was going into this. This episode is about the loss of that confidence. It’s about changing that mindset. It’s about tearing Rick Grimes down and that’s the conclusion of this story. So while it does seem like a cliffhanger, that’s the conclusion. And the story of who died, the story of what comes next, of who Negan killed, of what comes after that, that’s really the story of season 7.”
Gimple is similarly unabashed about AMC's decision to deny us one measly death in the Season 6 finale. Not one, Gimple! Why, Gimple? Why?
“I would say, when they opened up the hatch [on Lost], we had to wait and see who was in the hatch. I liked thinking about that. I liked talking about it. … We have to do an episode that justifies it to you. We have to do something so great and so intense that you’re like ‘Okay, all right, fair play.’ That’s the challenge we have and we’re going to do it. We’re going to deliver you something fantastic. … We want you to be one of those people in that lineup. We want you to feel that suspense and that terror and that pain, and we're going to deliver you a story next season that justifies it.”
You heard it, folks, and don't let them forget it: We're going to deliver you a story next season that justifies it.