The Walking Dead Series Finale Review: Closing, But Anticlimactic

It’s hard to talk ’boutThe Walking Dead Not to mention death. It built its reputation as a show where anyone could be killed, and in fact, it turned out roughly a third of its cast every season in its early years. (Lest you forget them, the series finale delivers its final moments to a montage of the ones we’ve lost over the years.)

It’s been a long time since death really drove the story forward. With multiple spin-offs on the horizon, the show struggled throughout its final season to maintain the suspense of the show’s salad days, when seemingly anyone could die at any time. If Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Daryl (Norman Reedus) are slated to star in a new series, every time their lives are supposedly on the line, the dramatic tension of whether or not they’ll make it out alive has been cut to the knees.

But even with the series’ three most visible characters off the table, a cast of literal dozens made it through the last two seasons relatively unscathed. The show remained as violent as ever, but without the actual sacrifice and pathos that violence would naturally arouse. Throughout the final season of “The Walking Dead,” enough new characters were introduced and developed to serve as sacrificial lambs with a frequency reminiscent of the old jokes about red-shirted ensigns on “Star Trek,” but the series did not give the audience time to contemplate the mortality of these characters. They died in the service of furthering the plot, nothing more.

It was inevitable that the series finale would require a final epic battle against the titular zombie hordes. “The Walking Dead” was always at its best when it leaned into its comic book roots, after all, and to its credit, the episode delivers plenty of vivid, comic book-worthy action, including several huge explosions and enough meaty shots. torn. and gushing blood to temporarily make us all vegetarians.

Yet for all the destruction, there was very little real consequence. Instead of providing anything close to true devastation, the ending gave us exactly the death of a main character. Plus, they provided it through the tried and true “Walking Dead.” trope of a character seemingly running away from danger, only to dramatically lift up his shirt to show the audience a stray zombie bite, then fake it for another half hour. While it’s natural to want to give Rosita (Christian Serratos) a final sendoff worthy of her long tenure on the series, she frankly deserved a more spectacular outing. His final moments were bittersweet, but not as shocking as they would have been if he had died in the heat of battle as he was as badass for much of the series.

It’s true, of course, that the plot wasn’t driven by the deaths alone, and to its credit, the ending did the surviving main cast a bit more justice. Several individual character moments, in fact, delved into the lore of the show and rhymed beautifully with scenes from previous seasons. Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) began his run on the series as a cowardly priest who had expelled his parishioners from his church at the dawn of the zombie apocalypse; when he risks his life to open doors and offer shelter to Commonwealth residents fleeing the hordes, it’s a perfect full-circle moment. Similarly, Negan has gone from the series’ most bloodthirsty villain to a man who can finally offer true remorse for his actions, and Maggie’s heartfelt response to his apology felt true to both characters’ journeys. . It’s almost enough to believe that they would be willing to embark on more adventures together. (And, of course, they’re slated for next year.)

The denouement is followed by a 10-minute coda that fast-forwards a year and recalls the epilogue to Kevin Costner’s 1998 vehicle “The Postman.”, of all things, in which the new community leader dedicates a memorial to the fallen and ushers in a new era of peace. (This cannot be unintentional: a character is even shown delivering mail.) Eugene (Josh McDermitt) has started a family; Ezekiel (Khary Payton), Mercer (Michael James Shaw) and Carol (Melissa McBride) have taken on leadership roles; Daryl wanders the border in search of adventure. If it’s not the most original place to leave the story, at least it’s a happy one, and deserved.

But we still have not finished. A second Then coda tries to give the fans what they really wanted: the return of Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira). Unfortunately, what should be a moment of pure emotion is undermined by the fact that it bears almost no relation to the events of the previous hour.

There’s a clumsy attempt to bond them with their children and the community through a monologue that plays over the aforementioned final montage. But the bulk of Rick and Michonne’s return is spent in what can only be described as a trailer for their upcoming spin-off, when Rick surrenders on a beach to an unseen entity and Michonne saddles up a horse to chase after him. It’s hard to gauge exactly how much appetite remains to be answered for the questions this raises, but leaving things here only serves to remind us that while “The Walking Dead” itself may be over, the franchise lives on. It remains to be seen if it thrives or simply reels back into a shell of its former self.

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