Let’s talk about the season finale of The Walking Dead, and how it shows us that it really is one of the best TV shows currently being aired.
There’s a lot of upset over Season 6’s finale last night. And that’s pretty much overflowed from a general consensus of season 6 as a whole. Had TWD lost its touch? Were we just seeing repetition?
I have to admit, even I started having my eyes dart off screen to draw my attention to something else when watching. I just didn’t feel the energy or the symbolism anymore. It had said what it was trying to say for such a long time. And I felt the characters journey had come to a halt and that not many things could continue on with importance.
However, in saying that, people can’t get irate when shows may have a lull. Nothing is ever to everyone’s taste, and when you have a niche environment you are somewhat limited to what can be done.
I’m also trying to steer clear here of the fact that TWD is based on a comic. Although I think it acknowledges the comic in really cool and clever ways sometimes, it also has done some things differently. And if you start debating about being true to the comic, etc, you lose sight of the great work the show has done in its own art.
Which brings me onto why I continued to watch it. I was a film student, so most people will already know I am a sucker for film art, mise-en-scène, music, dialogue – all the scrumptious attributes that come together to make film and TV lovers watch in an orgasmic artistic release. So satisfied with watching and listening, but at the same time really soaking in a multitude of deep meanings and striking, heart-hitting simplistic ones too.
Quite a few sitcoms have enabled the art to flow through them in the past years. And I just found TWD did it in a way that wasn’t entirely overbearing. Sometimes it was just fun to watch – gruesome sure – but fun!
But I just think it done everything in the right way. For a long time I was entertained, left gasping for the next episode, heartbroken over the losses, and invested in all the right ratio. And it never undersold itself. It always lived up to what you wanted to see and more. Even when you didn’t want to see it (i.e. Sophia *sobs*), but that scene! You cannot deny the emotions that were pouring through those barn doors as she creeped out. The revelation of the Greene family and Hershall’s secret, the way you knew Carol would never be the same, and the moment all of them knew nothing would be the same because Rick would now have to be that guy. He would become what we now know him to be.
I really could go on for hours about all the intricate details that are put into place for the character profiles to be so strong and work so well together. But, I’m really trying to secure my point to why that last season finale proves it is one of the most deserving shows.
Let’s first of all take a brief moment to just recognise that the new villainous group is called The Saviours. If you don’t already get the irony and meaning of that, then I probably won’t win you over to agree with me.
But just to recap, the whole game of life they play in the show is to survive. But not just in the sense of not getting bitten; but not getting killed by someone else, not getting injured, not running out of food and not killing yourself.
One of the biggest debates is ‘What would you do?’ But even Rick himself prides the group on being able to survive because they are such a strong group together.
This theme of survivors was carried out really well in the last episode with Eugene. He is credited by Abraham and Rick for his skills, and Abraham even calls him a survivor. It seems that from either the ‘good’ or ‘bad’ side of people you are on, the term holds a high status and a lot of credit. To have made it.
When Grimes and Co took over Alexandria and started training people, a lot of them warned current residents that they would not survive the way they were living. Then The Saviours bombarded in and tried to fuck everything up – a few times!
This might also be a nice time to mention that whilst it may have seemed slow and dreary, in hindsight the sly introduction of The Saviours group (with Morgan and Daryl) seems really cool now.
But getting back to the point, you know The Saviours are a negative paradox of what it means to survive.
If you’re looking at them from the term of a person who saves someone or something from danger or difficulty; they could believe they are either saving themselves collectively. Or that they are saving everyone else from living.
I also spent some of the programme thinking, hey, why should we judge Negan and Co just because we don’t watch them from our perspective. They could be just like Rick and Co, and are defending themselves from a group who keeps trying to kill them. Although this was also until the end where he turned up and Negan beat one of our beloved to death. But still, you can see their representation from that point.
Or, the point I choose to follow, is that of the religious type. We’ve had Carols cross, Father Gabriel’s reform, and the introduction of Jesus (could this theme be anymore prominent?) From a Christianity perspective a saviour means; God or Jesus Christ as the redeemer of sin and saver of souls.
Now Negan quite clearly sees himself as God, and he has many, upon many (like a shit load) of disciples. And he kind of chooses to act as ‘the redeemer of sin’, or at least, beating the shit out of people who cross him.
To be a saviour in that sense is to claim you are the almighty to cleanse the people who inhabit the world. To be the one that decides people’s fate more than they could themselves.
Carol for instance, decided she knows that to survive is to kill. And only when she is dead can she not have any problems. Although this is extremely true, it crosses that very real connection we have with life and death. She doesn’t want to be her people’s saviour anymore. She would rather not survive in a world, where to keep all her loved ones alive she must kill. To kill other human beings is to be a saviour. She knows this, this is why she was out before they showed up.
But then we have Morgan who just about started to seem so slick and cool with his stick, who then killed a man for her because ‘it’s not [her] time’. Why? Simply because he doesn’t want her to die? Because he owes it to Rick? Or because he genuinely understands her situation, because he doesn’t want to kill anyone either. But he showed her that if you ever have to, if you would because it’s someone that means so much to you, you do it?
Are you not seeing the bulk of amazing things going on in this show now?!
So quick side step back to the lead up of that last scene (which was just omg, cannteven). Carl telling Ingrid that she will learn to carry on because that’s what you have to do*. If people do not come back, as most often they do not in these apocalyptic, end of the world shows. But if they do not, you have to carry on.
Which is why Abraham and Sasha start talking about if babies are what’s making life, if that’s what this life has meaning of now. Even though Maggie is downright losing out on that life – the whole time part of me was like, realistically would they lose everything just to save a baby and Maggie who may not make it?
But of course Rick and Carl would because they lost Lori. Maybe a pure life is something to worth losing everything for. Maybe that’s what’s most important. Maybe they need to save the only thing that is innocent in a world full of mayhem?
So the last scene, was just epic because of that.
He also reminds Rick and the audience that isn’t it bad when you realise you don’t know shit. We thought we had everything figured out. To the point where some of us were almost bored of watching, to when they were slowly creeping in around us the whole season! You know the uncomfortableness you felt when watching? That’s the essence of a great show.
To literally corner us alongside them in that circle of terror. Right up until the point when you still thought Eugene was going to offer himself up to die.
The main reason I wanted to write about it, was because I felt so passionate that a lot of credit is not given when it’s due with the show. And, because I just love talking about all the clever things you get to notice. But, also, because a lot of people have expressed how pissed off they are by the ending. Why?
Yes someone has died and we don’t know who. But that’s because it could have been us.
Bear with me.
The Red Wedding in Game of Thrones – that you can be pissed at. Heck, even the last season finale of GOT (we love you Jon) you can definitely be pissed about. But you don’t know who has died yet. AND THAT IS THE WHOLE POINT!
They kept us on our toes the entire time, they put us in that line with our family of characters, and they made us watch them cry, squirm, and see life flash before their eyes because we knew they would die. Our almighty team could not save them. And with the added prospect of it being Maggie with an unborn baby, or Rick having to watch his own son beaten to death, put us in that traumatic position. We were staring at them with Negan and watching those emotions, until we were in that line, at the end of that bat, coldly shut off from the comfort of those we love.
To have blood trickle down the camera lens and blur, to hear Negan say they were taking it like a champ. To have more blood…blackness…a couple more hits of Lucile before we succumb to our death.
Not to mention the eerie fucking music, the eeine meenie mini mo game of horror, or the silence that hits us when he’s decided. And we have to hear him command that “Anybody moves, anybody says anything, cut the boy’s other eye out then feed it to his father, then we’ll start”.
I was like super fucked up at this point.
We don’t get to be pissed. We don’t get to be mad that they didn’t endeavour in our voyeurism, as an outsider. We are part of it because we are part of life. We love the show because we get attached in the little world that is left.
I’m going to wrap it up now because I could go on about it forever, or who he actually killed (which I don’t know and won’t look into). But if a show can makes us become part of it, and lose us in its artistic ability, then it’s a winner. And I won’t hear anyone say differently. Sorry internet.
*I also found out on my checks of dialogue and names today that the gun Carl takes out of the inventory when speaking to Ingrid is engraved with an image of Lucile, Negans weapon. Foreshadowing of the attack, and hence Negan takes it back off him, because it’s his gun. The little things we love!
Ps. Not to mention this season overall hit home on what it means to be The Walking Dead, as a reflection on Ricks revelation last season. That they tell themselves they are the walking dead. BUT THEY ARE (we all are) AND ITS ABOUT ACCEPTING IF YOU WILL REMAIN THE WALKING DEAD OR FIND WHAT YOU CAN IN LIFE AS DARYL CONTINUED TO SAY “we ain’t them” and Rick confirmed “we ain’t them”.
Such a good show oh man.