The sixth season of AMC’s smash-hit series “The Walking Dead” recently wrapped with a 90-minute extended episode. Be warned: this recap and review will contain spoilers, so unless you are fully caught up on “The Walking Dead,” you will be entering spoiler heavy territory. Tread lightly. Fans of the zombie drama have been riding a rollercoaster this season, seeing Rick and his group of survivors through their highest highs and lowest lows, perhaps the highest and lowest points in the show’s history. From the fortifying of Alexandria to the loss of Jessie and her sons, Rick’s gang has been put through the ringer this season, and it has all led up to this.
Throughout the season, the shadow of a mysterious force has been plaguing the survivors of Alexandria. That force was finally named: Negan. This imposing figure and the bloodthirsty rabble called “The Saviors” have been operating behind the scenes, taking supplies, blackmailing communities and occasionally slaughtering entire groups of people. Thanks to the group’s new allies at the Hilltop Colony, we have started to march to war with this mysterious gang. Well,they are not so mysterious anymore, and our little community in Alexandria has just gotten a bit smaller.
Initially eager to snuff out the Saviors’ reign of terror, Rick and his fellow survivors have slowly realized they may have bitten off more than they can chew. During the finale, in an attempt to get Maggie to the Hilltop for medical attention, Rick and his small contingent of Carl,Sasha, Abraham, Eugene and Aaron are slowly led into a trap. Every road from Alexandria to the Hilltop is blocked by Saviors. They are now sorely, woefully outnumbered. It becomes clear the mysterious Negan has dozens, possibly a hundred men at his disposal, and they are all too happy to relieve the Alexandrians of their supplies, along with a few lives.
The final moments of this episode cannot be overstated. They are right up there with the most tension-filled events of the series. Rick and his group are lined up on their knees in the middle of a dark and misty forest. One by one, Negan’s men march out some of the other survivors they have captured along the way: Eugene, who was running a diversion in the group’s RV, along with Michonne, Glenn, Rosita and a wounded Daryl, who were last seen surrounded in the previous episode.
While the group waits on their knees, Negan strolls out of the RV and introduces himself, and what an introduction it is. Jeffrey Dean Morgan (“Watchmen”) is absolutely incredible as Negan. He is simultaneously hysterical, endearing and terrfiying. In the scant few minutes the audience has with him, Negan is immediately set up not just as the newest villain of the series, but an incredible presence that finally seems to put into perspective how utterly hopeless the situation is.
After introducing himself and making his intentions very clear, Negan proceeds to stroll around the assembled survivors, playing a genuinely unnerving game of “Eeny Meeny Miney Mo” with his captives. As Negan’s baseball bat swings in front of each cast member in turn, the camera takes on a first-person point of view. The unknown survivor is unceremoniously bludgeoned to death in front of his or her closest friends. The season ends with Negan’s maniacal grin as he murders one of “The Walking Dead’s” beloved characters.
But, who died? The short answer: we have no idea. Speculation will rage on the fate of Rick and the group until “The Walking Dead” returns this October on AMC.