Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #273 - The Walking Dead finale - WHAT THE HELL?
I never inflicted The Walking Dead on you, Mom. Zombies were definitely not your thing. But for the last six years, Liesel and I have been avid viewers of the The Walking Dead TV program on AMC, and, of course, I am a huge fan of the comic book, which I have previously written about on this blog and my T-shirt blog, which is why I have category for it.
SENSE OF DOUBT - The Walking Dead posts
T-shirt #10 - I Love The Walking Dead
T-shirt #325 - 10 Years of The Walking Dead
So, I am doubly invested in both the comic book and the TV show. The thing is that despite my criticisms, I am invested. I will keep watching. My criticisms are not an indication that I am giving up and will no longer watch the show or read the comic.
The season six finale aired Sunday, and I have some remarks. But first a massive spoiler alert.
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If you plan to ever watch this show or are watching it and have not seen the finale yet, you may not want to scroll down and read on.
Not all fans of The Walking Dead TV show read the comic. But for those of us who do read the comic, we all know what happened in issue #100. And we all knew that the season six finale would play out the same story as in that issue. You can look at the link, but here's the skinny: after our main characters secure the community of Alexandria and meet the people of the Hilltop, they learn about the big bullies in the playground: The Saviors, led by someone named Negan. The Saviors use force to run a sweet protection racket: "give us half your stuff or we'll kill you." Rick Grimes and company said "screw that" when they heard about the bullying tactics of the Saviors and set about plans to take them out and protect both their community of Alexandria and the Hilltop.
There are differences between how this story played out in the comic book versus the TV show.
The TV show built up to what we all knew was coming, but the TV show provided a better impetus to give the survivors a reason to take a road trip to the Hilltop. In the comic, Glenn and Maggie simply want to move to the Hilltop because they think it will be safer, and so they would become ambassadors at the Hilltop for Alexandria. In the TV show, Maggie's pregnancy is in jeopardy and she needs a doctor. In the comic, it's Abraham who gets shot through the eye by Dwight, but in the TV show it's Denise, Alexandria's doctor, which, thus, compels the survivors to take Maggie to Hilltop to get her the medical attention she needs.
The end result is the same, both the comic and the TV show build to the eventual meeting with Negan and what happens in that scene. The TV show did do a much better job of building the tension as the Saviors block each road the survivors try to take to the Hilltop with increasing showings of force and savagery. The TV show had also done a good job of showing us Rick's over-confidence much better than in the comic, as he repeatedly expresses that together his crew can do anything and they will win out against the Saviors, he's sure of it. In the comic, there's just an ambush, and the survivors are outnumbered 10-1 or worse. Negan lines them up and picks one person to kill as punishment for all the people, his people, who Rick and company killed. He picks Glenn.
The scene rolls out almost verbatim in comparison to the scene in the comic with one vital difference.
In the comic, when Negan counts off his eeney-meaney-miney-moe routine, he selects Glenn and we see him beat Glenn to death. And then there's more of the scene through to the end of the issue. Rick vows to kill Negan, and Negan explains how things will work now (see image).
But this is not what happens in the TV show.
We don't know who Negan beats to death yet.
He chose someone. The screen went dark. And we heard the bat crushing and pulping a human body, but we don't know who Negan was beating.
This was just one of the many cheap stunts used in this and the previous episode to artificially engineer suspense and cliff hangers. This is not a good way to tell a story.
But then, maybe the people who helm The Walking Dead don't care. The choice they made has created a firestorm of Internet buzz. Fans are freaking out, just like with Game of Thrones last ending and the year-long question: "is Jon Snow really dead?" Now, TWD has the same kind of attention to deal with all year. Who did Negan kill?
But it's a cheap stunt and cheaper the way they executed (heh) it by going to dark screen with the sound playing through. Experiencing the story, I would have preferred to see the victim killed in this episode; however, I understand not showing the victim. It makes for a good season end cliff hanger. But why take such a cheap way out? Why not have him get to "it" in the pick-em chant and then go to credits? Going dark and having the bat sound when we can't see is a cheap stunt, which might not have been as bad if it had not followed several other cheap tricks of storytelling that diminish the quality of the story.
But then again, maybe the creators care more about generating Internet buzz than telling the story with cheap stunts.
For the record, I did not expect to actually see the character beaten to death as in the comic. I will be very surprised if we see that when the show returns in October. Though graphic for a TV show, thoug violent and somewhat hardcore, watching someone beaten to death would be very offensive to many people and difficult to achieve with the grisly realism shown in the comic book.
As I wrote, there had been other cheap stunts. The penultimate episode had ended with Daryl apparently killed. But the sequence was very weird. It was as if someone was watching Daryl through a scope and the watcher gets beaned so that blood splatters on the glass of the scope. Because that's what it looked like. It could also be explained as Daryl's blood splattering the camera lens. Whatever it was, I assumed it would be explained in the finale.
But it was not explained. Instead, we were treated to brief sequences of someone coming in and out of consciousness with some spotty lighting effects and voices in the background. It was obvious to assume this is Daryl's status, but the sequences were brief and ultimately unexplained. When hostages Daryl, Rosita, Michonne, and Glenn are brought together with the others, there is no explanation other than we see them being pulled out of a van. Everything else was just a series of cheap stunts to be tricky and coy in ratcheting up suspense at the expense of actual narrative and actual story-telling.
The good? Okay, sure, there's much to like about The Walking Dead Season Six finale. For fans of the comic book alone, seeing Negan brought to life by Jeffrey Dean Morgan in that scene with his bat, Lucille, played out nearly verbatim to the comic was fantastic.
For that matter, I have no quibbles with much of the episode. The way the Saviors showed their dominance and strength was very well done. The scenes with Carol and Morgan were very well done. The way Rick Grimes' over-confidence erodes and finally collapses in the final scene with Negan was probably the best thing about the entire season let alone the finale.
So, when working with such a great script, great acting, plenty of good story telling, why resort to cheap tricks? Aren't these cheap storytelling tricks the province of BAD stories? Bad creators? Something to cover for terrible acting? An awful script?
So, there. That's my problem.
And now, brace yourself for months of speculation on who Negan killed. It's not Rick, Carl, Michonne, Eugene, Rosita, or Maggie. I think it's unlikely to be Aaron as there's not much definition to his character , and he's too expendable. That's not dramatic enough. Abraham was killed instead of Denise in the comics. Given story with Sasha, his death would be poignant. Also, that's the argument for killing Sasha as there is no Sasha in the comics and her new relationship with Abraham would make this death more tragic. But when comparing to the comic, there is no Daryl in the comic books, and though he's a fan favorite on the TV show, it would be a major blow for him to die.
And then there's Glenn, obviously. Negan killed him in the comics, and it's very possible that he will be Negan's on the TV show. And yet, TWD creators have set us up all along by deviating from the TV show. Tyreese was killed differently and his story played out differently. Though still alive in the comic books, Andrea was killed in the TV show. Carol who is dead in the comics is alive on the TV show. And the show just killed off Denise in lieu of Abraham.
It all becomes a question of which way the creators intend to go with this current story line, either staying true to the comic (sorry Glenn) or subverting the expectations of many fans and killing someone else off.
Despite my criticisms, I will be back for the Season Seven premiere because I am loyal, and the creators, they know that about their fan base.
BTW, here's something neat. For those curious to see the differences, here's a frame-by-frame video of The Walking Dead comic issue #100.
ANDREW LINCOLN HEARTBROKEN in FINALE
RATINGS DOWN FROM 2015 FINALE
DEN OF GEEK REVIEW
NY TIMES REVIEW
WHAT CULTURE REVIEW
THE AV CLUB REVIEW
Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.
Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.
- Days ago = 275 days ago
- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1604.05 - 10:10
NOTE on time: When I post late, I had been posting at 7:10 a.m. because Google is on Pacific Time, and so this is really 10:10 EDT. However, it still shows up on the blog in Pacific time. So, I am going to start posting at 10:10 a.m. Pacific time, intending this to be 10:10 Eastern time. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom. But I am not going back and changing all the 7:10 a.m. times. But I will run this note for a while. Mom, you know that I am posting at 10:10 a.m. often because this is the time of your death.