AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 6, Episode 16: “Last Day on Earth”
Directed by Greg Nicotero
Written by Scott M. Gimple & Matthew Negrete
* For a review of the previous episode, “East” – click here
* For a review of the Season 7 premiere, “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be” – click here
So we’ve arrived at the end of Season 6.
Open on Morgan (Lennie James). He comes across a horse in a field. Towards him walks the man who survived Carol (Melissa McBride) previously.
Back at Alexandria, Carl (Chandler Riggs) is getting ready to roll, as Enid (Kately Nacon) doesn’t quite believe in what they’re all doing. Meanwhile, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) is saddling up. Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), Eugene (Josh McDermitt) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) are going, too. Everyone wants to go, no matter what. Aaron (Ross Marquand) is game, as well. In other news, Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) is proving himself a proper savior in his own right. His character development is some of my favourite, honestly, outside of the very main cast.
Out in the woods people are whistling, unseen, and a man runs away, scared. They track him down and beat him. The Saviors? You bet. The tension of this opening, score and all, is impressive. Starts to set up an epic showdown.
On the road in the RV, Rick and crew are heading to Hilltop. Maggie (Lauren Cohan) is having big time pregnancy troubles, and obviously worries. But Rick assures: “Everything we‘ve done, we‘ve done together.” No matter how bad things get he can always at least put a little faith in people, he’s a charming, charismatic leader. Can he save them all from what comes next?
Morgan tends to a wounded Carol. She’s in need of stitches. He wants to help more, though, she isn’t readily allowing any of that. She doesn’t want to go back.
Along the road, Rick and Abraham see The Saviors with the man they’re holding. Uh oh. It’s already starting. Out they go to meet in the middle of nowhere. The Saviors aren’t joking around and make it clear someone’s got to die. Instead, Rick has other ideas. They all slowly back off. For now, things are fine.
Rick: “You wanna make today your last day on earth?
Savior: “No, but that is a good thing to bring up. Think about it, what if it‘s the last day on earth for you? For someone you love? What if that‘s true? Maybe you should be extra nice to those people in that RV because you never know – just like that. Be kind to each other. Like you said, like it was your last day on earth.”
Rick: “You do the same”
Morgan and Carol are alike, yet still at odds. She has to school him on how things are: we must kill if there are people around us. You don’t get to have people and have a normal life. You either get to be with people and kill, or be on your own and not have your hand forced. She pleads with Morgan to leave. “If you care about anyone there‘s a price, Morgan, and you‘re gonna have to pay it,” Carol tells him.
The most tense and unnerving part about what’s happening so far is that we know a big, tragic finale is coming, some way. Right now, they’re building up the happy moments, the emotional bits and pieces. Up until the moment The Saviors appear, once more, in the middle of the road. Always waiting, watching. Now the survivors are preparing to do whatever’s necessary. Very eerie atmosphere, as the group tries to figure out how best to get down the road.
Under his nose, Morgan finds himself deserted. Because Carol is adamant about not going back, she’s sick and tired of the new world and how it is to worry, care, love if another person is involved. I understand, sadly. Can’t be easy for anyone to exist. Aside from trying not to get bitten by zombies you’ve got to worry about all of the rest of ordinary life, too.
Another ways down the road the RV encounters a ton of walkers. They’re chained and left in the middle of the road – “a Red Rover,” as Eugene puts it. They discover things belonging to Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) attached to the zombies. Out of nowhere gunfire explodes at them from the hills. They respond and things get real tense. Luckily, they clear the road and get through. Heading deeper into the belly of the beast.
Rick is already dying with anticipation. Now he knows they’re being led in a particular direction. Worse, Maggie doesn’t seem to be doing too well. Then more trouble on the road – Saviors, everywhere. They’ve got nowhere else to really turn. At every last corner there The Saviors are, waiting for their arrival.
Morgan finds rosary beads in the street. Will there be a showdown between him and the Savior left after Carol’s massacre? Will the man find Carol? I’m terrified to find out. Not a second later does he show up. Carol finds herself at the mercy of this man. He puts one in her arm, planning to watch her die on the pavement.
Again and again we’ve been getting views of someone stuck inside a box, or somethng similar. Likely Michonne and Daryl? Who knows. Glenn? We’ll see.
The hardest part about the Maggie situation, for Rick, is watching another pregnant woman go through the post-apocalypse world. Even worse, she’s having a rough time. Hopefully she’ll last. Too many tragedies have fallen upon their group, and they’re no saints, but they don’t deserve all their hardships.
But for Carol’s part, she wants to die. Done with the world, she hopes to leave. Might come sooner than later, as the man puts yet another shot through her leg. Still, she keeps up her sarcasm under duress. Soon enough Morgan arrives. He shoots the man dead, going against his precious life philosophy. Although, it’s for a good purpose.
Afterwards, some armoured folk come out of the forest. They actually own the horse Morgan rode. The men agree to help them. Is this all it seems? Can’t trust anyone right off the bat.
Carol: “The world doesn‘t decide, you decide. You don‘t get to walk away and get what you want.”
Through the forest stride Rick and his crew. A tree roadblock keeps them from going further, and then they witness the man from the road earlier being hung. He dies brutally in front of them before a fire starts in the roadblock. Such ominous stuff, as the Savior from earlier speaks from behind the slowly building fire, warning of the last days on earth and such. Spooky.
Everybody’s worried, obviously. I would be. At each turn they’ve encountered a literal roadblock. They decide to ditch the RV and head onward. Eugene first gives over a bullet “recipe“, one that will help them in the future. It’s a very goodbye-type moment. Touching. Plus, there’s a better one with Abraham and Eugene, an honest and beautiful moment between two friends. Definitely touches the heart, and scares me about what will happen in the last ten or fifteen minutes.
So Rick and the crew head out with Maggie, leaving the RV in the hands of Eugene. The score even tugs at the heartstrings, more than ever before on the series. It’s real epic sort of stuff. Again, this worries me. A strong setup for brutal tragedies.
In the woods, Rick and the group hear the whistles. It sends them deeper into the forest. Some of the creepiest stuff EVER on the show. When they run out into a massive gang of Saviors, things turn around quickly. The creep factor goes up, so does the pulse. Rick looks devastated already, as Eugene is seen kneeling on the ground nearby.
“Welcome to where you‘re goin‘,” the Savior from earlier greets them all. For the first time in a long time, Rick is in a position of absolute weakness. Totally castrated, effectively. The games are about to begin. Last time Rick was made to get on his knees, he bit out a man’s throat. What will happen this time?
The light inside the box was the others, after all – Daryl, Michonne, Glenn, Rosita (Christian Serratos). The gang is all back together. Lined up for the big entrance. He has arrived – Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) walks out to see them all. He taunts them about “pee pee pants” and other juvenile phrases. Then he chats with Rick. Tides are about to turn, drastically. “You are so gonna regret crossin‘ me in a few minutes,” Negan says plainly to Rick. The law is laid down.
Negan: “You ruled the roost. You built something. You thought you were safe, I get it. But, the word is out: you are not safe. Not even close.”
In the end, there is punishment. Negan selects himself a victim, introducing everybody to Lucille, his barbed bat, using more juvenile phrases – this time some Eenie Meenie Minie Moe. The whole sequence is so intense you’ll find yourself racing, heart pumping, pulse ready to leap out of your body. The tension is drawn out perfectly.
Only problem is AMC has decided to stick a thumb in the viewer’s eye by not letting us in on who Negan decides to kill. We’re given POV that simply lets us in on the savagery of Negan, the bloody brutality he brings to this world. Not impressed, I must say.
Stay along for the ride. Or don’t. Many say they’ll stop watching because of the ending. Me, I fucking hate it. I do. But I’ll keep watching because I have to know. Although, that being said: Season 7 has to pick up and do some different things, take different routes, figure out a fresh new formula, because after this finale I’m starting to get sick of the predictability of the series. Much as I dig the show there are serious flaws. Here’s to hoping the writers start listening to the roar of fans and switching things up. Maybe that’s what Negan will do overall. We’ll have to wait and find out in October.