The Walking Dead: Season 6 Review

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By Ben Wright (@iamzavagno | www.xgeeks.co.uk)

This article contains Season 6 and comic book spoilers.

It’s safe to say that Season 6 of The Walking Dead, was one of the show’s strongest seasons to date. While it had a few missteps along the way, Glenn and the dumpster, on the whole it delivered some outstanding TV moments.

Character development was a major part of Season 6. With many background, or supporting characters getting a lot of growth and screen time. It made the cast feel a lot bigger, and gave a refreshing approach to the series and the characters they focused on.

Season 6 also had some of the best episodes ever seen in The Walking Dead, and after the mid-season break every episode that aired was simply phenomenal. From Carol and Maggie’s SAW adventure to the final run in with The Saviors.

The writing was strong for the most part, and the shows ‘action episode – talking episode’ routine was finally broken. The show felt a lot more free flowing and enjoyable to watch, and still delivered good stories and action.

One of the criticisms from some fans is the lack of zombie threat this season, but the comics were never about the zombies being the biggest threat. It’s the people within the new world order. That is where the comics have been at for awhile now, and this will be where the TV version of The Walking Dead is heading. Less focus on the threat of the zombies, and more focused on groups of survivors. As Jesus hinted at, the world of The Walking Dead is about to get a whole lot bigger.

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Speaking of the future, the season finale provided a big hint to where Season 7 is heading. With the introduction of The Saviors and Hilltop, it’s clear the show is heading towards people and the conflicts that they bring. And we may have had our first glimpse of another, and rather significant, group of survivors.
In the final moments of Carol and Morgan’s story, we see two unknown characters approach them offering them help.
Going off the horse and the body armour, we can safely assume that these are from the Kingdom. Another group of survivors based in a school. They are ruled by ‘Ezekiel’ who is a big player in the comics, oh and did we mention that he has a pet tiger called Shiva?

We will talk about the ending of the finale later, but one thing we hope doesn’t happen is Rick going backwards. We hated ‘Emo Prison Rick’. This season his confidence had returned and he was the Rick we know and love. His frailty and state of mind at the end of the episode was a concern, and it would do disservice to the character if he once again goes back in to his shell.

The future of The Walking Dead is heavily leaning towards stories connected with different groups of survivors and how they deal with the constant threat of The Saviors. Season 7 has the potential to be one of the best yet, as they have so much scope and story to work with.

With all that said, we are now going to take a quick look at the final episode of Season 6 and talk more about the ending.

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Season 6 Finale:

This was one of the more stronger season finales, but it did not need to be the length that it was. We did not need the Carol and Morgan story adding to things. That story could have been wrapped up last week. It slowed down the episode a lot. The episode would have been better served focusing solely on The Saviors and the main group.

Eugene had another growth spurt as a character, and it was nice how Daryl’s return was in the background, rather than making a big deal about it. It felt more natural.

For the first time, you truly felt like the group were in real danger. Encountering roadblock after roadblock, slowly being lead down the path like lambs to the slaughter. The tempo for these scenes in particular was solid.

Now, lets talk about THAT ending.

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The last sequence felt like an epic moment of TV. It had everything! From the chilling whistles of The Saviors, to the arrival of one of the most anticipated TV antagonist in recent history.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s introduction to The Walking Dead was simply sublime. Taken page by page from the comic, the second he walked out of that RV and spoke his first line, you knew they had nailed the casting.

He was funny, sadistic and unpredictable. His whole introduction and dialogue was captivating and you could not look away.

The drama was building, the tension was there for all to see, then he finally points at his chosen victim and…we get a POV shot of Negan attacking. We are then left with a black screen and muffled shouting and screams.

They blew it. And they blew it big time.

What were they thinking? That they wanted a Jon Snow style fan debate during the hiatus? This should have been a ‘Red Wedding’ moment. This should have been something that would be talked about for years to come. It should have left you in a state of total shock. All it did, for most fans, was leave you feeling frustrated and annoyed.

It’s not even about seeing one of the big characters being beaten to a gory pulp, it’s the fact that the tension and drama was at boiling point and then you were taken out of the moment with the throwaway ending that they ended up using.

There have already been many theories and photos appearing online. People working out where Negan was standing, what characters were either side of Rick etc. This is what the producers want.This is NOT what the fans want.

The ending leads us to to believe there are three possible scenarios.

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A – They follow the comic and it’s Glenn. They already bodged his ‘fake death’ this season. They couldn’t do that story, and end up killing him for real a few episodes later. That would be poor writing. By moving his death in to Season 7, they can have the safety net of time, with many forgetting what happened to him on that dumpster. It would also continue to allow Maggie to develop in to a more prominent leadership role, just like in the comics. It was Glenns death in the comics that really turned Maggie in to a major player, so Glenn dying would service the story as well as the fans getting a ‘big death’.

B – It’s a minor character like Rosita, Aaron or Eugene. Killing a minor character still delivers a death, but protects the main cast. However, this would devalue all the build up and story leading to Negan’s arrival.
Eugene has already told the group how to make the ammunition, so he is no longer vital for that story line. It’s almost like Han Solo passing the detonation trigger to Chewie in Star Wars before he died.
After Negan’s first hit, when the sound echoes, you hear the line “taking it like a champ”. This would fit in with the character development of Eugune, who has become less of a bystander and more of a survivalist this season. He’s come along way since we first met him, and it would be fitting that his character would go out stronger than what he started.

C – It’s Abraham. He is already dead in the comics by this point anyway. But his death scene was transferred to another character, with Denise taking an arrow through the eye mid-speech instead. His character progression and development has followed a similar path to previous characters like Beth & Tyreese, both of whom came to the forefront and subsequently met their end. Abraham dying would feel a step up from the supporting cast, and still protect the main characters, but also deliver a death that would have a big enough impact on the show and the fans.

It’s still likely that it could be a main character, but two characters we know it won’t be are Rick and Carl. Negan said that if anyone objected that they would cut Carl’s other eye out and feed it to Rick. So they are safe.

No matter who ends up getting a ‘kiss from Lucille’, the moment has gone. It should have happened at the end of the episode. We should have got that payoff.

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How do they start Season 7? By replaying the attack? Or cutting to the crushed skull of the character in question? Either way, we will find out before the season premiere. Why? Because the show cannot hide secrets. The fan sites always get the photos on set, so through process of elimination we will be able to work out which character has not returned for filming. Unless the character in question turns up for the full duration of filming to be snapped on set as a fake out, we WILL find out who it is beforehand. All of which could have easily been avoided if they had just delivered at the end of the episode.

Season 6 will be remembered as one of the strongest series to date, and with the amount of source material and original content that they have to play with, its safe to say Season 7 could be even better.

What did you think about the ending? Got any of your own theories of who Negan killed? Leave your comments below!

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