The Walking Dead has closed out its sixth season with the most hotly-anticipated finale of its entire run. The long-awaited arrival of popular comic book villain Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his brutal clash with the show’s protagonists was an event that many were undoubtedly dreading and anticipating in equal measure. While the finale delivered on the Negan front, with Morgan delivering an incredibly tense performance that has us looking forward to seeing more of him in season seven, for the most part, this was a massively disappointing way to close out the season that failed to live up to its potential. It’s easy (and accurate) to point to the finale’s cliffhanger ending as the main source of this disappointment, but from start to finish, there wasn’t much to like about “Last Day on Earth.” While there were definitely things to like and admire about the finale, the following issues held it back from being the showstopping season-closer that fans were promised.
10. Very Few Surprises
For a 90 minute long episode, “Last Day on Earth” is curiously lacking in surprises. Sure, the episode had a few tricks up its sleeve, such as the creative (though largely unbelievable) way that the Saviors herd Rick and company exactly where they want them, but other than that, things play out pretty much like you expect them to. Most viewers already knew Negan was arriving to mess things up for everyone, so the onus was on the writers to throw in some surprises we couldn’t possibly have seen coming.
It was a forgone conclusion that Negan would take a life, but the real curve ball would have been if a major character had been killed off well before the episode’s climax. For a brief moment, it looked like this was indeed what the show was doing when Carol was shot by the dying Savior, but as usual, The Walking Dead missed its opportunity to throw viewers off balance by having Morgan come into save Carol just in time, as everyone knew would happen. Norman Reedus may have called the finale the most “hardcore” episode of The Walking Dead yet, but as it stands, this episode looked positively tame next to barnstormers such as the season four finale, “A.”