Thoughtful & Abstract: The Walking Dead: “Wrath”

In which The Walking Dead sees the wrath of Kim and Shawn.

Kim: It’s over, and by “it’s,” I mean The Walking Dead series. And by over, I mean for the season as well as the “war” on the show. I certainly have thoughts on it and you bet your sweet ass I’m going to share them.

This will go down in history as the absolute worst season finale in all of The Walking Dead history. Like everything else they have done this season, what should have been an amazing and incredible end to this chapter was just some bullshit tossed in a pan, seasoned with curry, with a little bit of bacon tossed in in an attempt make it better, and served luke-warm, at best. I was expecting an all-out assault, full of near misses and maybe even an important character death because someone has to be able to hit their target on this show.

The only shocking moment was Rick slitting Negan’s throat. I didn’t see that one coming. However, much to Maggie’s chagrin, he doesn’t die a horrible death. No, Rick channels his inner Carl and directs Sadiq to “save him”. And in that moment, I swear Maggie’s reaction was exactly the reaction I had. It was possibly the most asinine thing I’ve ever seen.

I was also very confused with the whole “we gave them false information about where we’ll be. But they’re smart, so they’ll go to point A and try to figure out where we’re going to really be. And they’ll kill those poor slugs and find a map with another wrong location on it and hope that they don’t know that we’re just fooling around with them, like we know they will the first time, and so we’ll be waiting at point C, which is where they’ll have to go when they’re going to the second map. Unless they figure that the second map is the red herring and try to go to the spot on the first map, but, hahaha, we’ll be on a giant hill, so the joke’s on them.” What? Exactly.

Let me sum up the episode as I saw it.

Negan puts Dwight in the Alvin and the Chipmunks costume and takes him along. Not to kill him, but to make him watch people that he doesn’t really care about die so that he has to live with some guilt. Father G comes along for the ride, tries to escape, but walks into several trees before mistaking a walker for a birch tree, gets caught by Eugene, of all people, who is holding this tiny gun in a meaty hand. So, Negan’s going to also make Gabe watch everyone die, even though he can’t really see.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, “The Saviors are coming! The Saviors are coming!” The town clears out, into the woods, all except for Gregory whom they leave “in the house”. Tara decides she’s going to try to hold off the Saviors, giving those people and that annoying crying baby a head start. She’s joined by the ex-Saviors led by “that guy” (because I have no idea what his name is) and just as they’re all ready to make a move, there’s some magical trap that’s been set up by who the hell knows and the Saviors are a living replica of Burning Man. Oh wait, it’s the Oceanside girls and their new leader, Aaron! They’ve lit arrows and whatnot on fire and they’re storming the castle! Whew, crisis averted.

In other news, Rick and the gang fall right into Negan’s plan D, or maybe it’s E – we don’t really know anymore, and instead of running for cover while Negan is running his mouth, our people just stand there looking around, admiring the stunning view. So now, Negan thinks he has the upper hand. But good old Eugene double-crossed him and when they go to shoot the gang, everything goes wrong for the Saviors. Our people charge up the hill in a wonderful reenactment of Pickett’s Charge and corral all of those pesky varmints. But Negan’s getting away, even with his hand blown up! Rick to the rescue! (Insert eye roll here).

We get an exciting fight between Rick and Negan for all of 15 seconds and there’s palpable tension. And just when you think Rick can’t mess it up anymore, he’s on the ground with Negan telling him it’s over, preparing to kill him, insulting his parenting skills, and really looking like he’s going to take Rick out. But Rick asks for ten seconds and as Negan starts counting, he pleads to honor Carl’s memory, blah blah blah, and suddenly swoosh! There’s Negan bleeding out on the ground from having his throat cut. Now. Rick gets up and is exhausted and sweaty, and all-around gross. And as he turns around, there’s his entire group standing there watching. They were watching him get his ass handed to him by Negan. No one sees a problem with this? They all had guns, were in shooting distance, watching Negan gain the upper hand and have the opportunity to kill Rick, and yet not a single person takes a shot? I don’t believe that for one second. I mean, come on. We learned they can rarely hit what they’re aiming at, but still. Don’t you try to do something to save your dude? I mean, unless you’re tired of his shit.

When it’s all said and done and everyone has gone home to do whatever they need to rebuild, we’ve got some really interesting things happening, and one of the biggest is Daryl driving Dwight out to the middle of nowhere and setting him free. I just hope he finds his wife, because someone deserves something. We don’t know what happened to Gregory. Big Daddy G is admiring his burned-out church, giving thanks to still be alive. Carol rides into the Kingdom with Jerry and EZ-E. Maggie is having a serious conversation with Jesus about how fucked up this situation is, and our peace-loving friend, who is all about love and light and saving people from death is in suddenly in agreement with her that they must get Rick and Michonne out of the way, so they can kill that dastardly Negan. Of course, Daryl has made it back and is over there, lurking in the shadows, pledging his allegiance to the duo planning the coup. But is it really a coup because Maggie’s already pretty much in charge. As an aside, she should probably hook up with That Guy, because he builds things. It’s kind of what he does.

Flash over to Negan in the hospital bed with Rick and Michonne talking to him about how he’s going to have to live and watch people be happy. Now, this dialogue that was written for these two for this entire scene was the sloppiest and weirdest thing I ever heard. I actually closed my eyes to listen and I realized that not only do I not like Rick, I really don’t like Michonne anymore. The biggest mistake this show has made was putting these two together and turning them into raging pacifists. Her voice droned on and on and I just wanted to tell her to shut up. Her tone and the word choices didn’t match the Michonne I knew and loved, who kicked ass and took names. After that scene alone, I started to really hate these two and I’d love to see Jesus, Daryl, and Maggie just take them out.

We can’t end this without seeing what crazy Morgan is up to. Oh! He’s going to swap places with Jadis. We don’t get to see her join up with the group, but we know she does because we all watched Fear the Walking Dead, like the sheep we are, to find out what happened to Morgan.

And yes, after two seasons of not watching that show, I watched to see how Morgan gets to wherever they are. All I’m going to say about that is that his journey wasn’t believable. And I’ll tack on the thought that if I was a fan of Fear, and I watched the season opener, I’d have been really pissed off that the entire episode was about the journey of new characters, and whatever cliff hanger their last season finale laid out, was obviously not answered. Unless they went the route of TWD this year and ended the season with absolutely no tension or wondering what will happen, will so-and-so die, will they all get out of the fire alive, or whatever else you wonder at the end of a good season.

I’m grateful, though. Truly I am. At least I won’t have any of that “Oh my God, I have to wait until October to find out what happens next? That’s too long!” angst. Breathe easy, Dead fans. All of the questions you don’t have won’t be answered in October. Carry on with your bad selves.

Shawn: When I saw this was titled “Wrath”, my first thought was exactly what it turned into: the wrath is all of our reactions to this finale.

NOSTRADAMUS. You mentioned a “shocking moment”. This episode was notable for how unshocking the finale actually played out. As we made it through the last few episodes, I thought there would be at least one curveball. Nope. No way Rick was going to kill Negan after all the Carl letters and such. We knew that Morgan was leaving the show so nothing going to change there. The bullets exploded? Wow. That was a surprise if you didn’t read the clear subtitles under Eugene’s face when Father G made his mistake. And the Lake Ladies come to the rescue after that Braveheart speech last week? I could have written 75% of the dialog in this episode.

FINALE. There’s part of me that thinks they left it like this “just in case”. If the low ratings give AMC a second thought about having a cast of 492 and investing in all that Talking Dead time, then this isn’t the worst ending ever. It’s meh but there aren’t many loose ends. It isn’t happy and it isn’t stressful – it’s just an ending. I don’t know that they have even done a great job setting up next season. Are Maggie and Daryl and Jesus about to pull some coup? Or just invest in some sensible windmills and solar panels? Will Negan poo in a bucket and eat dog food until he escapes? At some point the show had to pivot again and this gives them quite a few options. No matter what happens, Season 9 is going to look radically different than the past few seasons.

FIELD OF DREAMS. When the bad guy has some nefarious plan that you know you are being punked about and it’s possible he has a bunch of new bullets, where should a majority of the big names in the cast walk? Yep. In the middle of a big freaking field with no cover. I think that’s covered in The Art of War Chapter 1. If the show got their cancellation notice a week before this episode aired, there was an alternate scene where everyone is just shot down in the field while Carl voices over, “And saw all I wrote was for naught.”

THEY WILL PAY. That whole Maggie deal at the end is one of the weirder turns of the show. Her screaming when Negan is spared is understandable and I’m glad they let her have that moment. I like when there is an emotional consistency in the cast. Then Dark Maggie becomes Al Pacino in The Godfather Part II taking over the family. The two things I never want to hear in my zombie show is “this plan is so crazy that it just might work” or “they will pay for what they did”. This may be the shark just waiting to be jumped.

DECORATE THAT TREE. This show dares to make a very bold statement. Decorating trees are not just for Christmas anymore. You can hang some stained glass from any old tree in any old field anywhere. Conveniently, Rick and Negan have a fight near said tree. Wait, a piece of glass is missing from that weird stained glass. And now it’s in Negan’s neck. Also, with his vast knowledge of anatomy and having watched lots of movies, Rick was aware that if you are planning to eventually save a person from death, stabbing them in the jugular is the best choice. I mean, there’s opening a wound in their intestines but the neck is a nice touch.

WHAT A PUKE. I still stick by my claim last week. Eugene was portrayed as such a heel over the past few weeks that it was obvious they were going to redeem him. But I didn’t want to see it. I don’t buy it. Eugene was disrespectful and evil beyond what was necessary in order to bring him back to our good graces. His redemption is unwelcome and I don’t give him credit for taking the moral high ground at this point. He saved his own ass. Simply. Eugene, you are still on my poop list.

This season was building towards a lesson of mercy and forgiveness. We sacrificed Carl to bring that moral home to our main bad dudes. Did it work? Meh. The season had moments of being some really special foreplay. And when it was time to consummate that lesson, we got undressed, and your partner got gassy. We got all the way there. And this stink is what I have to remember until the Fall. No mercy. No forgiveness. “And in the end Andy and Red lived on the beach forever in peace.” – noted voiceover artist, Carl.

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Shawn Bourdo

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