‘The Walking Dead’ finale is a painful build up with another cliffhanger

*Note: This article was written for MTSU Sidelines on April 4, 2016. To read the original article, click here

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If you thought The Governor (David Morrissey) was The Walking Dead’s most dastardly villain, think again, because Negan makes that psychopath’s antics look like child’s play.

The long-awaited appearance of Negan was finally revealed in the season six finale, “Last Day on Earth” with an unnecessary amount of build-up. However, the ending monologue by Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the barbed-wire bat-toting nut job was pretty spine chilling. For the past few seasons, fans have been seeing the rise of Rick’s ego as he has yet to find a challenge he cannot face. Again and again, his group seems to come out on top despite all odds, but those days are over.

In the last episode, fans were left on a major cliffhanger when the much beloved character Daryl (Norman Reedus) was shot. This finale was a painfully slow paced episode that waited to reveal his fate, making short cut scenes throughout the episode to inaudible voices as light shined through tiny holes of the back of a van. It’s unclear whether director Greg Nicotero hates the fans or just loves the feeling of making us wait. Either way, it’s exhausting.

Rick (Andrew Lincoln) ventures off with Carl (Chandler Riggs), Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), Eugene (Josh McDermitt) and Aaron (Ross Marquand) with a sick Maggie (Lauren Cohan) in tow to take her to a doctor. Every path they take, the Saviors are there to block their way. They outnumber our group, and Rick slowly loses his bravado attitude. Meanwhile, Carol (Melissa McBride) is still trying to get herself killed, when finally, Morgan (Lennie James) finds her and attempts to bring her back home. Here’s what’s really annoying: The show spends far too much time spending this 90-minute episode on Carol’s baggage. The episode would have been much better served if fans were shown little of what was going on with her than dedicating the rest of the finale on what fans actually cared about.

Instead, we have to wait until the very end to see the big reveal. Eugene comes up with a plan to throw the Saviors off their trail by driving around in the RV while everyone else carries Maggie off to safety. Rick and friends are chased out of the woods and drawn into the middle of a big circle of people where Eugene is waiting battered up. Fans could let out a little sigh of relief, because Daryl is okay; for now. He along with Glenn (Steven Yeun), Rosita (Christain Serratos) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) are dragged out of a truck and everyone is made to line up on their knees.

It’s these last few minutes of the episode that are the most satisfactory, but would have been best served for the middle; the writers are huge fans of the cliffhanger. This was the purpose of saving this moment until the end so Negan’s true nature can really hit home. He delivers horrifying monologue while showing his barbed-wire bat Lucille off with pride, because he’s going to make an example out one of our beloved characters. He doesn’t want to kill them all, but to have them work for him instead. What follows is a creepy eeny, meeny, miny, moe game to see who gets the honor. The camera switches to the perspective of the victim unfortunately and we leave the episode with a few sickening thuds as the bat makes impact.

After the magical ways people have been managing to stay alive as of late, it would have been a better idea to reveal who was on the receiving end of that bat, giving fans the opportunity to mourn the death of the character while waiting for the newest season. Yet another cliffhanger could soften the impact of the death and leave fans upset and anxious about waiting so long for yet another big reveal. Hopefully, the promise of the Walking Dead’s craziest villain can keep fans in a forgiving mood. That is, unless the season premiere decides to keep the victim a secret for the end of that episode as well.

We may leave this season without knowing much, but there one thing we know for certain: Rick isn’t the invincible man he thought he was. He has just met his match, and not everyone is going to make it out alive this time.