The second half of season 6 of The Walking Dead has been very eventful and suspenseful, continuing the story of Rick and his crew down a new, dark path where their world and future have been turned upside down and blown apart. I think the show has successfully told a story that is true to the world these survivors live in, and as we saw in the final scene of the scene, sometimes the heroes just don’t win in all of the chaos. We got to see the introduction of many new characters and places in the back half of this season, and the group has been forced to deal with a world much bigger than they were seemingly aware of or anticipating. The threats have shifted from the undead to the very much alive as Rick and the rest of the Alexandrians have found themselves face-to-face with the greatest foes they’ve yet to come against. Personally, I really enjoyed the stories told in the last few episodes, and I look forward to seeing how the show embraces a new enemy and a new kind of existence for the Alexandrians going forward. There are so many possible ways for the story to go and I’m anxiously awaiting season 7 in the fall to see just how the fallout from the finale will play out. Until then, I’ll leave you all with some of my superlatives from the back half of season 6:
Favorite Character: Maggie
- I think this second-half season really saw a great growth in Maggie’s character and stature within the group, which has been a fitting, welcome surprise. With Maggie becoming the second character on the show to bring a child into the apocalyptic life, the spotlight was naturally always going to shift to her, but the way it has so far has been wonderful. In dealing with the integration with the Alexandrians we saw a glimpse of diplomatic Maggie, but the group’s dealings with the Hilltop community allowed us to witness Maggie’s diplomatic skills shine further. In essence, Maggie kind of became the political leader of the Alexandrians, being the one who could negotiate with Gregory, while Rick stepped into more of a general’s position, leading the team in war. I think it was great to see Maggie become an even stronger, more confident woman, and with the complications to her pregnancy in the final episode, she is clearly going to be a focal point of the story going forward. And who knows, maybe the Alexandrians (or the Hilltop community) will start to see Maggie more as the fit leader than Rick. That would be one hell of a storyline if Maggie was nominated to replace Rick at some point, in some way.
Least Favorite Character: Gregory
- If there was any moment in this season that was a bit awkward, it was the point in time when Gregory, the de facto leader of the Hilltop community, tried to undermine and talk down to Maggie as they negotiated for supplies. Gregory gave off really creepy vibes throughout his appearance in his only episode, proving his inadequacy as a leader of his people and as a diplomat in their post-modern world. I am curious to see more of him and the Hilltop community in season 7, but I’m really gonna need him to take some responsibility for his people and become a better leader, or else I’m going to wish it was actually his head that was handed to the Saviors on the fateful night of their strike.
Best Storyline: Pre-emptive strike against the Saviors
- I think the most shocking and well-acted storyline of this half season was the decision Rick made to attack the Saviors unprovoked, in order to gain supplies and respect from the Hilltop survivors. It was such a drastic decision for the group to agree on, and while Rick pitched it to the Alexandrians it was fascinating to see him garner almost unanimous support (with the lone exception of Morgan). It was extremely difficult to stomach the fact that this group of heroes were now about to come murderous avengers and the worst part about it as a fan was the fact that I completely understood the justifications. The reports about the Saviors seemed believable, based on what they had seen from other survivor groups, and the fact that they live in a kill or be killed world seems to justify just about any actions that will improve survival odds. The best thing about this story was seeing the emotional beats play out in the most realistic fashion possible. The struggles Glenn and Heath had with having to kill people unprovoked demonstrated just how difficult the decisions were for everyone, and I love that the show went to great depths to portray the moral and ethical dilemmas of practical survival in their world. This storyline was amazing not only because of the action and suspense, but also because of the psychological undertones that came with it. It was a fantastic story, and I love that its resolution and aftermath will continue to reverberate through season 7.
Worst Storyline: Abraham dumping Rosita for Sasha
- Looking back at my first half review, I can see a trend with a particular storyline on this show that I’m really not appreciating. I had no love for the Sasha/Abraham friendship that developed randomly last season, and I was even more put off by Abraham ditching his long-time girlfriend Rosita to be with Sasha. In such a tight knit community, this seems like such a horrible way to go about co-existing, and while I understand that he fell out of love with Rosita somewhere along the line, he didn’t have to be as much of a jerk as he was, telling her he was only with her because he thought she might be the last woman on Earth. If it wasn’t for the great material between Abraham and Eugene, I’m pretty sure the character of Abraham would be dead to me at this point. I just don’t have any interest in the Sasha/Abraham relationship; they’re both too stubborn and hard-headed to be interesting together, in my opinion.
Most Controversial Scene: Negan’s introduction
- I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the most controversial moment of the latter half of the season; the introduction of Negan at the end of the season finale. The whole episode has gotten plenty of negative reaction, citing the seemingly mundane nature of them riding around in their RV constantly getting blocked and backing out of conflicts with groups of Saviors. But, the ending was very dramatic with the group getting cornered in the woods as they attempted to flee on foot with Maggie, who was experiencing complications with her pregnancy, and being forced to meet Negan and his bat named Lucille. The show has gotten a lot of negative backlash for the end of the episode, with one character meeting a gruesome death at the hands of Negan without their identity being revealed. Clearly people are upset by the critical cliffhanger, or perhaps others are upset that the “good guys” didn’t win in the end, at least not this season. Unlike popular opinion, I absolutely loved what happened at the end of the finale, it was riveting, realistic to their world and a smart direction for the writers and producers of the show to go with. Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s debut as Negan was one of the greatest character debuts the show has ever seen; his character is terrifying, but (kind of) sane and rational at the same time. He truly is a megalomaniac, but unlike the Governor, whose evil came more through psychosis, Negan appears to be much more concerned with building an army and garnering peons to supply his army as they establish what he calls a “new world order.” I think Negan is a brilliant villain to add this show, as he brings a certain air of invincibility that we haven’t seen the group face up against in quite some time. While it was disturbing and upsetting to see them set up a major characters death all the while not revealing who died, I completely understand the producers reasoning from a storytelling perspective. For one, this cliffhanger adds a bit of suspense for season 7 to know who it was who met their end at the hands of Negan. Also, I think it’s worth noting that this portion of their story ends when they got caught. The death of a character, regardless of who it is, is simply the result of the end of their invincibility, and starting off season 7 will be a whole new story of them accepting what happened, accepting their new circumstances under Negan’s watch, and hopefully finding a way to break his empire apart. I think the show has set up quite an interesting arc for the main characters going forward, and even though the finale was met with a lot of criticism, I think the payout is going to be well worth it in due time.
- This was such a surprise in the middle of the doom and gloom and intensity of this show to have Rick and Michonne start connecting on a personal level. It was such an interesting surprise, but it was definitely worth rooting for, and it definitely was a great moment of hope for these characters because they’re finally feeling at home for the first time in a while. I never thought of Rick and Michonne being together before, but now I’m kind of rooting for them to continue connecting on a deeper level next season. There has to be some good things that come around.
- All of the banter with Jesus and the Alexandrians
- It’s been a very interesting change of pace to have a witty, cynical, sarcastic character introduced to the show, but that’s what happened with the introduction of Jesus. He really is a very different character than anyone else on the show, and his scenes with the Alexandrians have also been kind of fun little changes of pace for the usual seriousness of everything. I especially loved him sneaking up on Michonne and Rick in bed so non-chalantly telling them he had to talk to them. It was hilarious, and it goes to show what an interesting character Jesus could be on this cast going forward. I hope we see more of him.
- Eugene’s “bite”
- Besides the final scene of the season, there was probably wasn’t a more shocking moment than when Eugene devised a plan to distract Dwight from killing Daryl and Rosita. Eugene promptly informed Dwight as he pointed his gun towards the duo that there was another member of their team, Abraham, waiting by the periphery of the field they were in, and while he had his men investigate it, Eugene decided to take Dwight out by biting him where the sun doesn’t shine. It was the most insane moment of the season up to that point, but it worked like a charm as it created just enough chaos for Daryl, Abraham, and Rosita to get the upper hand and chase off that jackass Dwight. The shock value of the whole thing made this easily one of my favorite moments of the whole season.
5 Things I Want to See Happen in Season 7:
- Morgan and Carol’s continued relationship building
- Watching Carol and Morgan deal with the fallout between their ideological fight has been a phenomenal thing to witness. We’ve seen Carol nearly break down under the pressure of maintaining her toughness and we’ve seen Morgan have to come to terms with the violence of his group that both disturbs him and keeps him safe. Both of their struggles coping with their polar opposite mentalities has lead them to exile themselves, and with Morgan finding and saving Carol from an attacker, there is great potenial for more bonding and storytelling with these two going forward. They are on their own now, and won’t have a clue about what’s happened with The Saviors, so it’ll be exciting to see where the show goes with their story as they likely turn back to rejoin the group. Regardless of how their mindsets have changed or how they have affected one another, it’s pretty certain from here on out that there is a bond between those two and it will surely come into play again in the next season.
- Daryl finally getting to finish off Dwight
- Dwight has been a huge problem for Daryl for most of this season, and it’s been eating Daryl alive that he had a chance to eliminate a truly bad guy but decided instead by giving him the benefit of the doubt. Next season I really want to see Daryl finally get one over on Dwight, and eliminate the threat he possesses to everyone once and for all. It will be a sweet moment of vengeance for sure, and I really believe the show will play it the right way.
- The continued humanization of Rick following the group’s encounter with Negan
- Andrew Lincoln, Rick’s portrayer, said it best in an interview when he mentioned that Rick is paying for his sins as he and the rest of them are captured by the Saviors. They stooped to the level of those savages by trying to kill the Saviors, without even questioning if it was possible to take out their whole group. Rick has developed an arrogance about him and it shows in his brutal leadership these days, but the carelessness of his brutality has lead to the downfall of his society in a way. For the group to bounce back from their meeting with Negan, rick is going to have to once again evolve and grow as both a human being and a leader. He is going to have to take a long, hard look at the way he has lead his group, and the ways he has changed his mentality over time, and decide if what’s he’s doing is truly worthwhile. I really want to see Rick deeply affected by what Negan has done, and while I expect there to be a serious psychological struggle, I expect him to bounce back and lead the Alexandrians back to independence once again.
- Negan’s back-story to be revealed
- I don’t think any character has had as big of a impact in such a short time on screen as Negan has. Only appearing for less than minutes on the show, Negan has already shown himself to be ruthless, charismatic, and extremely dangerous for the Alexandrians, but he is still such an enigma. I’m hoping he doesn’t simply become a one-note villain on this show, because there has to be a story as to how he became such a powerful figure, respected and feared by everyone around him. I’d love to see an episode dedicated to the story of the Saviors, because even though they are the antagonists of this show now, their story will surely provide some interesting insight into how societies have formed and changed in time after the apocalypse hit. After his powerful debut, I find myself wanting to know so much more about Negan, and I’m guessing the show certainly won’t let me down on this wish!
- Vengeance on The Saviors
- This goes without saying, but the most important thing that I want to see next season is the downfall of Negan and his Saviors’ empire. The group may be down, but they are not out, and I have to think that in the end, they will manage to find a way to come out on top in the end, because they always do (and that’s what’s gonna make for the best story).
- Bonus wish for next season: Will someone please find Enid in that damn closet before she starves to death…seriously, what the hell is wrong with Carl sometimes