Season Six, Episode Sixteen — “Last Day on Earth”

© Copyright 2016, AMC. All Rights Reserved.

© Copyright 2016, AMC. All Rights Reserved.

By Jarrod Jones. For a show as popular as The Walking Dead, it sure does get away with some bullshit. Since last October’s season premiere, television’s biggest show has pulled the ol’ “bait and switch” on us more often than necessary, or as Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s delightfully malicious Negan would put it, “more than I’m comfortable with.” We sat for weeks wondering if Glenn had become the latest mobile walker buffet (he didn’t), and last week we were made to think that Daryl had just been picked off by one of Negan’s Saviors. (It appears that Daryl was only winged.) You already have us, The Walking Dead. So why bother making the experience of watching you so frustrating?

Yes, last night’s cliffhanger was indeed maddening, but you can’t say it wasn’t entertaining. Since the day I got duped into watching Zack Snyder’s god-awful Watchmen adaptation, I’ve known that Jeffrey Dean Morgan can handle the role of “smug fuckface” with aplomb, so when the news came that Morgan would take on the role of Negan, arguably the most sinister and gleefully malevolent villain of all comicdom, there was a level of satisfaction that came with it. Morgan’s a perfect fit for a show as manically psycho as The Walking Dead, and I’m glad to have him here.

But that ending. The decision to leave us in the dark as to which Alexandrian Negan just smashed to pieces (at least until October) isn’t without precedent. If nothing else, it’s definitely a business-savvy move for AMC, a network that’s just one week away from launching the second season of TWD‘s spin-off, Fear the Walking Dead, a show designed to tide over hardened fans until the next lackluster season drops. So who knows — with a charismatic foil like Negan around to kick up dust, The Walking Dead just might have found its second wind. But with another fakeout for us to choke on for another six months, it just feels like another in a long line of last gasps.

WHAT WORKED: As I’ve often said in this recap series, Carol’s arc has succeeded due to its incredible substance, but who knew that her dark path would lead to Morgan’s most defining moment yet? Yessiree, Morgan finally put his credo to the ultimate test, and somehow I did not hate it. Sure it’s a frustrating thing to have a pacifist running around the zombie apocalypse (pretty sure that’s how you define “oxymoron”), and yes, Morgan’s zen-like rationale still feels out of place even after we went the long way around to better understand it, but as a Superman fan, I get a kick out of watching people avoid the easy way out. Morgan’s strength came from his meditative control (something I wish was lauded more often these days), and even though he had to cross the line this week, it didn’t feel like a betrayal of his character. (Especially since this outcome was practically telegraphed to us last week.)

WHAT DIDN’T: As creative as the Savior gauntlet was, it seemed far too contrived to be anything but a narrative convenience. There was 90 minutes to fill this week (for some damned reason), but The Walking Dead decided to use its time by showing us how coordinated and savvy The Saviors are, when we already know that they’re anything but. (Am I expected to believe that Rick & Co. didn’t just spend the last half of this season rolling over the Saviors? Come on, now.) Perhaps the time would have been better spent dwelling on the inevitability of Negan, instead of creating ways to avoid using him until the very end. (By the time that RV came upon a third Savior blockade, my brain had officially checked out.)


Roman: “You think you suffered enough?” Carol: “No, probably not.

Be kind to each other.” – Savior, which is priceless coming from Trevor of GTAV.

Huh. I gotta shave this shit.” – Negan, observing Abraham.

BEST MOMENT: Enter: Negan. There was little doubt that Jeffrey Dean Morgan would be able to pull off the swagger of Robert Kirkman’s most notorious character, and his arrival to The Walking Dead did not disappoint. (Well, until it did.) Even though there’s no way AMC would let Negan decimate all around him in a blast of well-executed f-bombs (an issue that’s really not), Morgan still managed to imbue the entire sequence with incredible dread and… surprising humor? Yes indeed, Morgan was downright folksy in places, and even in fleeting moments, polite. (Negan, on letting Glenn get away with his outburst: “It’s an emotional moment. I get it.“) The entire sequence was about as good as The Walking Dead gets. Negan: “You pissin’ yourselves yet?” Well, now that you mention it…

SEASON’S MVP: Carol. Melissa McBride came and stole this season out from under me. Just when I thought I had had enough of Carol’s bullshit (or felt that the show was going out of its way to make her patently unlikeable), The Walking Dead was quietly constructing one of the most fascinating character studies I’ve seen on television since The Sopranos. Carol has long been this series’ MVP. And with the close of its sixth season, she still is.

© Copyright 2016, AMC. All Rights Reserved.

© Copyright 2016, AMC. All Rights Reserved.


– Negan’s top Savior is played by Steven Ogg, otherwise known as Trevor from Grand Theft Auto V. (He also popped up in an earlier episode of Better Call Saul.) If his presence is any indication, as if it wasn’t already painfully obvious, the Saviors are gonna be really bad dudes next season.

– Carl’s “Just survive somehow” line to Enid, whether it was intentional or not, pretty much makes it a cinch that Alexandria has a spy in its ranks, and her boyfriend just locked her in the closet.

– I keep waiting for Ross Marquand to go “hey, how about my Kevin Spacey?” Sadly, it still has yet to happen.

– We got our first glimpse of The Kingdom this week, which means we can expect a casting announcement for Ezekiel (and Shiva!) sooner rather than later.

– So who got done in by Negan? It’s really looking like Abraham to me. And since we have to wait until next season to get answers (apparently, not even the cast knows what’s up), the impact is dulled enough for me to guess that a bigger kill (like Glenn, or even Maggie) is likely not the case.

7 out of 10

Before: ”East”, here.