'Oops, I did it again
I played with your heart, got lost in the game'
You KNOW it must be bad if I'm leading with Britney Spears! That lyric basically sums up the entire season 6. The showrunners, for some reason, found it necessary to continually jerk their audience around all year. It started with the Terminus deal last season and continued with the Glenn hot mess, Carol's inexplicable and abrupt change from battered wife to badass to someone who just gives up and wants to die, to the increasingly stupid decisions the characters made to put the entire crew in mortal danger in the finale.
Messing with the fans is OK to a point - I get that - but the reason you have the #1 show on TV IS your fans. I'm not saying you have to cater to the fan's every desire, but don't flog the fact over and over that the REALLY Big Bad is coming in 6 months and then not deliver. There are so many options on TV now, so many good shows, that losing your core audience can happen quickly if you don't keep them satisfied. And it seems very ironic that the main narrative device (seemingly the ONLY device) that TWD uses - death - is relentlessly promoted for months and then NOT used in the finale. Think of the buzz that would have been generated in the aftermath of the killing. No matter who the vic was, it would be the main story for days, generating massive interest for the fall premiere. But now, with the gloriously botched final scene, all anyone will talk about it how TWD swung and missed (pun intended) AGAIN.
Here we go. Rick and the rest of the main crew load Maggie up in the RV (hey, let's pick the biggest, most conspicuous vehicle we have!) for the trip to The Hilltop. Carl REALLY wants to go, because he wants to avenge Denise - huh? - did we EVER see a scene with Carl and Denise? I guess he feels that way because Denise saved him after he lost his eye.
So off they go. Before they get to the Hilltop they come upon a roadblock set up by the Saviors. Rick and the Savior leader of this particular crew negotiate, if you can call it that. It's mostly just jawing back and forth. It comes to a head, and then....NOTHING. Rick and the crew get back in the RV, back up and leave - no gunshots, no violence, nothing. Hmmmm.
They drive awhile until they run up on - guess what - another roadblock. Surely some conflict now, right? Uh, nope. They drive off again.
More driving. And more driving. Until they - wait for it - hit ANOTHER roadblock. Yawn.
So let's back up and drive off again! That's the ticket! And we're driving, and we're driving, and we're STILL driving...until - until we see......you guessed it, Nostradamus - yet another roadblock! This one is a 'road dam' of sorts, with wood piled 15 feet high. Boy, these Saviors must be VERY bored! Although maybe they have a lot of time on their hands, what with no inter-webs or anything to watch on the TV box, since it's the apocalypse and all. Then the Saviors set fire to the wall - really smart move - let's burn up the forest for the sake of theatricality!
This wasted 45 minutes reminded me of a trip to Ikea. You know, you go into the store wanting to buy a spatula, and then you're in a maze of crappy bookshelves and dinette sets with no way to escape! So this was Negan's version of shopping at Ikea - pure torture! And the only people that wandered more than our heroes were the Israelites back in the bible!
That's another problem with this show - are the Saviors this big, bad bunch of evil geniuses, or just a bag of dicks led by a charismatic psychopath? In every confrontation up to this point Rick and his crew dispatched these guys with no problem. And it seems like they know nothing about A town, other than it supposedly exists out there somewhere.
It's dark now and Eugene volunteers to use the RV as a distraction while the rest of the group carries Maggie through the woods to the Hilltop. Eugene's metamorphosis from abject coward to a leader probably spells his doom, sadly. He's fun.
Deep in the woods the crew begins to hear the whistles of the Saviors. Seems that it was all a trap and Negan has them right where he wants them. Soon all the crew is on their knees, and onto the stage walks the man of the hour - Negan. This was the only part of the ep that worked for me, and the reason is the wonderful performance of Jeffrey Dean Morgan. When I found out that JDM was going to portray Negan I was very surprised and pleased, and he did not disappoint. Here is the last scene:
The ultimate cop-out of not revealing who Negan killed stands to lose a lot of fans of the show in my opinion.
The b side of the ep concerns Carol and Morgan having the same pointless argument they've had all season. The Savior who tracked Carol finally finds her and shoots her twice for his own amusement, intending to torture her to death. What he doesn't know is that Carol now has a death wish, and this bums out the Savior to no end. Morgan rides up on a horse and rescues Carol, emptying Rick's gun into the Savior - so much for 'all life is precious', huh, Morgan? To add to the ridiculous nature of the scene, out of nowhere come two guys dressed in body armor, one on horseback -wha? They are from yet another camp called The Kingdom -maybe it's full of cos-players who just can't let go! They seem nice enough - Morgan gives the guy back his horse, and they volunteer to take Carol back to their camp to get her patched up. I can see it now - Carol and Morgan on horseback, dressed in armor, giving each other googly eyes! Hey, can't be sillier than what's happened so far!
Full of boring filler (oh sorry, tension building scenes) and a hilariously botched final scene (save the performance of JDM) I'll boil my review down to two words, courtesy of the film 'This is Spinal Tap'.
Maybe Negan should use Lucille on the showrunners and beat some sense into them (metaphorically of course).