** SPOILERS, SO MANY SPOILERS for 'The Walking Dead' Season 6 finale **
And so, perhaps the biggest event in the five and a half year run of AMC's critical smash hit The Walking Dead has been and gone, and saying that the Season 6 finale, "Last Day on Earth," was a polarizing one is perhaps a kind way of putting it.
Need a reminder of what happened in the final scene? Or want to relieve the tension and the build up? Check out the clip below (via AMC).
It might be fairer to say that a lot of fans hated the cliff that AMC partially tipped us over following the long awaited introduction of Negan, due to the intense build up to this moment not only in the show itself but in the fanbase discourse around it.
For months we've been told by cast and crew alike that this would be the biggest, most intense episode of the show's run, with producer David Alpert even telling Access Hollywood that the finale would "melt the internet." And it did, but maybe not quite in the way they intended.
Of course, we were all looking forward to the introduction of Jeffrey Dean Morgan as The Walking Dead's Negan (and we weren't disappointed on that front), but the debate that has raged all season was centered around which character was going to experience some intense one-on-one time with the wire wrapped baseball bat, Lucille.
As we all know by now, it's Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun) who bites it in the comic books, but the show has always diverged largely from its source material, especially when it comes to some of the big deaths, so nothing is certain. This was the moment we had been waiting for, to see if he was saved by another big character taking his place at the business end of the baseball bat.
And yet, despite the incredibly tense build up scene and excellent use of first person photography when the bat was brought down, the last moments of the finale didn't so much blow up and melt the internet, but squeaked out like a flat balloon. Especially after the survivors' flight through the forest with the ill Maggie (Lauren Cohan), and Negan's incredibly tense introductory monologue.
The showrunners have already come out to defend the way the finale was handled, with Scott Gimple asking for the benefit of the doubt from fans. According to Gimple (via Variety) the episode was supposed to serve as an examination of the confidence breakdown of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), with the major death being the spark point for Season 7.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan himself has spoken out about fan frustration over the cliffhanger — it turns out even he wasn't aware that they were going to end the season on that cliffhanger before watching the episode — and he says we should keep our faith in the showrunners intact. Speaking to reporters via a conference call, Morgan stated:
"In talking to Scott and Robert [after the finale], I think that their explanation was that it was the end of the story for that season, and that Rick has lost control and there’s Negan, and Negan has all the control."
This makes sense in a meta kind of way; as we as an audience follow and identify with the survivors, we've been placed in the same position as them regarding the lack of control Rick has, except our lack comes from not knowing rather than not being able to act.
So while Morgan sympathizes with our collective outrage over being denied the knowledge of who suffered the biggest death of the season, he also claims that it's all part of a grander plan leading into Season 7, and that we should trust in the showrunners.
"I understand the fans’ frustration, I get that; that being said… I have to trust these writers and showrunners. They know what they’re doing; a lot of people watched for six seasons, and I believe that they’ll be back to see who met Lucille and as the story continues to grow."
They haven't steered us wrong yet, right? (Well, apart from Season 2 perhaps.)