In which Kim and Shawn ruminate on the penultimate episode.
Kim: Well, here we are. This was the penultimate episode of the season. According to Merriam-Webster, the word ultimate itself comes from the Latin word for “last, final, or farthest.” The pen- part of penultimate is simply the Latin prefix that means “almost,” so the word literally means “almost last.” There’s also the word penult (pronounced PEE-nult), which means “the next-to-last member of a series,” or “the next to last syllable of a word.” In the word presentation, for example, the accent or stress is on the penult. Another related word is antepenultimate (pronounced an-tih-pih-NUL-tuh-mut), which means “the third from the end.”
What does this mean? It means that the antepenultimate episode was far better than the penultimate episode, which isn’t leaving me a whole lot of hope that the ultimate episode will be anything but the ultimate let-down. There is an incredible penis joke in here somewhere, but I’m too lazy to find it. I suppose you could say that I’m “anti-penisultimate”.
Let me fill you in on what happened in this episode: absolutely nothing nearly as exciting as it should have been. In fact, it was a giant let-down start to finish. I’m going to start with my biggest disappointment - and that was the death of Simon. I could think of several more visually stimulating ends to Simon’s life at the hands of Negan. I wanted it gruesome. I wanted it bloody. I didn’t want him choked out, then stuck to the fence as a walker. While I get the personal nature of killing a man with your bare hands, I think this was one that needed to be a whole lot more than what it was.
Then you have the ridiculous Eugene/Daryl/Rosita bullshit. *sigh* There’s more than a few things that don’t make sense about this. Like Daryl threatens him and Rosita is all, “No, we need him,” and yet a few minutes later, she’s got her gun all up in his face trying to be a badass. What does she get for her trouble? Good ole Eugene shoves his fingers down his throat and barfs all over her and then it gets incredibly stupid from here on out.
So, we’re supposed to believe that he still has his hands ziptied, outruns Rosita by enough that he has time to make tracks through the ashes, or whatever it was, and cover himself completely, not moving or breathing while Daryl and Rosita come along? Give me a break. This is not even remotely plausible. And then he gets back to the bullet-making shop, with a whole new can-do attitude. He’s all full of piss and vinegar because Rosita (who has always treated him like shit) treated him like shit? Over it.
I don’t even want to comment on Father G or the dumb-ass storyline of Aaron trying to light a fire under the Oceanside girls’ asses. Didn’t our gang take all of their guns, leaving them only with spears? So, what’s the deal? Is this The Walking Dead or Moana? “Together they sail across the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous monsters and impossible odds.” - Google That could be describing Aaron’s new adventures as one of the girls, don’t you think?
Speaking of impossible odds, Dwight is in some shit, isn’t he? Negan has him all figured out. Daryl thinks he should die for shooting Tara. Negan isn’t killing him, because he’s got something better planned for him. This is the only thing from this entire season that I’m interested in seeing the ending to.
Three other little tidbits and then I’ll leave you to ponder the fate of the gigantic cast.
1.) Did you see Jerry dancing with a baby? Made my heart all happy and stuff.
2.) Carl droned on a whole lot at the end of his life, didn’t he? Even in a written note, we couldn’t get him to shut up. And Michonne reading it to Negan was a total waste of time. They should have just attached it to an arrow and shot it into the Sanctuary and let dead Carl read it to Negan.
3.) When Morgan shows up on Fear next week, immediately after this season finale, where will it be in the timeline? I feel like Fear was a few years behind TWD, so that would mean that we’re going to see something from Morgan’s past. But how does he go from the general Atlanta area, to California, to Virginia in the time they’ve given him to be here and there? You make no sense, Walking Dead Universe. Does anyone but me even care?
And so, it is with a fully open and unassuming mindset that I will venture into the final episode of the season next week. I’m hopeful it really is the ultimate episode, but I’m fairly sure it won’t be.
Shawn: My penultimate observations of the season go like this . . .
1.) LOOSE ENDS. Last week's episode felt like more of a penultimate and this more like a denouement. We're so totally ready to close out the past couple seasons of storytelling. What do we get with all that momentum? A little tying of the loose ends. Let's clean up those letters from Carl and deal with getting Eugene to where we need him and make sure Negan isn't too caught up with his underlings when he needs to focus on Rick. Not sure why the writers consistently feel the need to write up whole episodes as distractions instead of just scenes here and there.
2.) EUGENE. We definitely know who isn't "Worth" of the title of this episode. For the record, I'm just tired of Eugene and pretty much tune out when he's on screen. Like a long Negan soliloquy, Eugene is a gift for the writers trying to pad out the episode to a full 75 minutes. Take away a Eugene speech about mac 'n' cheese and this episode fits nicely into an hour slot. He freaking puked on Rosita. At this point, I don't even care if he redeems himself and even if he kills Negan with his garlic sardine Kraft dinner spew, I will be pissed. You aren't worthy, Eugene.
3.) CARL'S HALLMARK CARD. "Dear, Dad. Remember when things were awesome? Here's a list of things that you'll never see or do again. Can you please not kill more people? I know you probably just killed a bunch of innocent people last week but maybe you can just stop. Wait. Dad? Did you just kill someone while you were reading this letter? Seriously, Judith might want to take a walk with you and go to Chuck E Cheese's. Can you do that for her? I know you are thinking about killing more people so much that I had to even do a voiceover for this letter. Well, I'm not doing one for Negan's letter. Thanks for all those cool memories, Pops. Other than that time I lost my eye. Well, gotta go. Carl."
4.) NEGAN. The writers are so bored with Rick that they give him a scene and don't even let him read the letter. They have noted-voice-actor Carl read it to him. On the other hand, they love Negan. He has become a terrible leader; his two main lieutenants betrayed him and got themselves killed this week. Nice move to kill them both very theatrically. But between his love for Lucille and his almost bonding with voice-actor Carl, we almost feel more for Negan and his poor choice of friends versus Rick and his general jerky murdering of innocent people. It's a tossup at this point who I want to win this battle. Mostly, I want Maggie to win. And Jesus to drop out of the sky riding the ghost of the tiger to kill Eugene.
5.) SIMON. Another colossal waste of time. It's a shame because he was a great character but once Simon killed the Garbage People, you knew he was dead. So you know he's going to be killed after a really long speech by Negan. We got that. Check. What? A fight? A fist fight? Blah blah blah. This isn't a fist-fight type of show. It's "get your eye popped out by Lucille" type of show. In the end, he isn't even eviscerated. He's choked out like some terrible MMA fighter on a Saturday night. You'll be missed, Simon. Simon's mustache, you'll be missed even more.
6.) HITCHIKERS KILL. A little indirectly but Negan's free rider didn't have cash or grass but she did have a story that got Dwight killed. I was actually thinking that Dwight might survive this episode and season. Kudos to the writers for selling it well enough for me to feel a tad disappointed and surprised when the door opened. I see now the arc of this episode was to give us a little sympathy for Rick with Carl's letter and to put us back on the road to feel that Negan has to be killed. But Dwight's death put me back into the mood of "well, that sucks for Rick that Negan has set him up but welp."
"Mommy Michonne, can you use your walkie talkie to read this to Uncle Negan? The walkie talkie will make it seem like a voice over and they're so cool. I know that my Dad is a real bastard but he's not about to die this season. So that means Uncle Negan is probably a goner and I really want to get him this message. I thought up this cool message. Tell him 'Give peace a chance'." - Noted voice actor, Carl