The Walking Dead Awards: Negan at the bat

Season 6, Episode 16: “Not cool. You have no idea how not cool that shit is.”
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The Walking Dead Negan
Photograph by Gene Page/AMC

(Spoilers ahead)

Each week, we comb through the guts of The Walking Dead, much like a horde of hungry walkers, to bring you the episode’s best moments, surprises, and other post-apocalyptic curiosities. This week: Walking Dead fans riot for a different reason, Waze doesn’t have a button for reporting Savior traps, and someone’s head was turned into peanut butter jelly with a baseball bat.

Season 6, Episode 16: “Last Day on Earth”

Best coincidence: Negan killed someone with Lucille, a baseball bat covered in barbed wire. Sunday was also MLB Opening Day.

The revolution will be televised: The Ricktatorship is no more. Negan saw to that with his bat. This entire season, and a good chunk of last year as well, we really got to see Rick become cocky. Thanks to that gusto, the moment he surrendered was a very powerful one. And speaking of good set-ups . . .

Best adapted screenplay: How do you keep a moment you know is coming suspenseful? Anyone who’s read the comics (or any internet speculation) knows that Glenn is supposed to die by Lucille’s whack, but the previous episode toyed with this theory by capturing Glenn, Michonne, Daryl, and Rosita. Then Abraham and Eugene started having those (almost always fatal) poignant moments. Ten characters ultimately went up against Negan and Lucille. That is how you keep viewers on their toes. And then the writers took that suspense one step further.

Pro-cliffhanger ending (Myrydd’s take): The TWD writers are like Negan—they own us. They proved it down to the tense music, the whistling, the lineup of potential dead characters, the massive adrenaline rush from Negan taunting the gang for 10 minutes. (We were right; he does make the Governor look like a golden retriever puppy.) They took a plot we thought we knew so well, made us doubt it, then left us hanging. Sure, it’s frustrating, but it’s damn good TV, and we’ll be coming back for more.

Anti-cliffhanger ending (Matt’s take): Comic readers knew a death was coming. And while the safe money was on Glenn, there were more than enough hints that it could be Abraham, Daryl, or honestly anybody in the woods that night. For 90 minutes, the tension rose, and we had no idea who would be under the bat. And then they pulled the rug out from under us. This isn’t an episode of Dragon Ball Z; you can’t just keep stringing fans along for six months. Glenn’s death was in issue 100. That’s a lot of time to form a connection with a character. It was an extremely pivotal moment, and stretching it out will ruin the impact. By the time we find out who died this fall, the emotional tension they spent 90 minutes building will be gone. And regardless of who’s dead, it’s not going to matter as much. Ah, screw it, we’ll (grumpily) be back in October ready and waiting.

Smallest question: Did Enid ever get out of the closet?

Biggest transformation: This time last season, we hated Gabriel’s guts, but now the preacher has really stepped up—enough to become Alexandria’s defense leader while literally the entire main cast is away. Kudos.

Rule breaker: Morgan, much like Batman, has one rule: Don’t kill. Unlike Batman, Morgan broke that rule to save Carol. We’ve got a feeling that next season, both characters will move closer toward center, and everyone will be a lot safer for it.

Big firsts: Morgan wasn’t the only character to have his first kill this season. We also watched Denise and Gabriel take the plunge (and Glenn killed a human for the first time). Fitting, considering this was also the season the Alexandriates (and Eugene) stepped up and learned to fight.

One messed-up childhood: There was an interesting motif with schoolyard games this week. Both Red Rover and Eenie Meenie Miney Moe made an appearance. Also, those people who came to the aid of Carol and Morgan? In the comics, they live in a school.

Best original score: Can we have a huge round of applause for the show’s composer, Bear McCreary? The entire episode’s music was incredibly suspenseful, but that tension peaked when the eerie whistling of the Saviors turned into a screeching, psychotic melody as Rick and the gang were completely surrounded.

Best line: “Eenie meenie miney moe . . . ” —Negan

Best kill: The television of every infuriated fan who rage-quit The Walking Dead after the emotional turmoil that was this episode ending in a six-month cliffhanger. We’d like to remind you that AMC is not responsible for remotes thrown through LCD screens.

Most disturbing image: All the mind games. The Saviors were always one step ahead of our heroes this week. They blocked every road, lit the retreat path on fire, and were able to funnel the group right into the worst possible spot in the woods. Even more unsettling, we still have no idea how the Saviors were able to execute all of this.

Episode MVP: [REDACTED]. After [REDACTED] seasons, [REDACTED] has really grown as a member of the group. Who could forget the time [REDACTED], or when [REDACTED]? Negan may have [REDACTED] [REDACTED]’s [REDACTED], but [REDACTED] indeed stood strong and will serve as a rallying point for the group’s future [REDACTED].

And once again, where exactly does Rick fall this week on the calm/crazy scale? We’ll be back with that answer when The Walking Dead returns this fall!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just kidding; we’re not sadists.

The Walking Dead
Illustration by Matt Walljasper; Photographs courtesy of AMC

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