The Walking Dead Finale: A Predictable End for a Once Unpredictable Show

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by | Nov 25, 2022 | Film & TV

The Walking Dead finally comes to an end, though a rather predictable one unfortunately.

AMC’s The Walking Dead finale has aired, bringing an end to what was once considered one of the greatest cable TV series of all time. As much as longtime fans wanted the finale to be as spectacularly shocking and gruesome as its previous seasons, the fans who had stuck around to this point were given an ending which was about as good as it could be.

The list of likeable characters had already grown very and far between, with the ones we did care about already assured their survival with announcements of The Walking Dead spin-off shows. This made the stakes set pretty darn low, relying upon the audiences investment in ‘The Commonwealth’ and it’s community which in all honesty didn’t have the screen time to really make us care all that much. Whereas when the prison fell or Alexandria came under attack, these were our character’s homes, they wanted to be there and to make it work, therefore we did. There’s a lot to unpack from the season finale so naturally we’ll be discussing spoilers!

TYING UP LOOSE ENDS – LUKE & JULES

If you’re reading those names wondering who on Earth they are, you likely aren’t alone. Luke was a character introduced along with fellow survivors Magna, Connie, Yumiko and Kelly back in season nine and has had a very minor role in the series ever since. While a relatively friendly and warm hearted character Luke lacks any unique qualities that make him truly stand on his own (aside from being a musician). Jules was his love interest introduced in season ten though she herself has had little screen time or character development in the two seasons she appeared.

Why are we discussing these two minor and relatively insignificant characters you might then ask?  Both of them were killed off in the opening minutes of the final EVER episode of The Walking Dead, with Luke even being given an emotional farewell from his close friends that takes up at least a couple minutes runtime. This scene in particular feels very forced as theres little attachment tying us the audience to this character and his narrative. While I’m sure there was a couple viewers saddened by this characters demise, I assure you some is all there was.

This felt more like the shows way of getting rid of the characters they didn’t know what to do with in the end and served no other purpose in the final season other than to inform the group of Oceanside’s dismantlement (which we still have no specifics on). Meanwhile our main characters who once felt like they could meet their end at any moment are shrouded in layers of plot armour. Speaking of plot armour…

The Walking Dead Finale

JERRY AND ELIJAH SURVIVE THE HORDE

One of the cliffhangers established at the end of episode nine was whether or not everyone’s favourite knight of The Kingdom Jerry would make it out of the horde alive after he tries to rescue Elijah who had been separated by the walkers. Not only do they both straight up make their way through the thousands of walkers to the front gates but also manage to emerge completely unscathed. While I for one was happy to see Jerry reunited with his family and get his happy ever after, I feel this was a missed opportunity to actually kill off a character that would’ve had a genuine effect on the audience.

Jerry’s entire character arc has been his rise from King Ezekiel’s shadow into a brave and worthy hero looking to prove himself. His heartfelt goodbye with Aaron even hinted at his death the following episode, all the seeds had been planted. He wasn’t even shown to leave the horde with Elijah as they both appear on screen separately moments apart, taking away any kind of heroic accomplishment he might have had if he had came out with Elijah in tow.

Elijah himself also suffers from wasted potential, as his initial appearance showed him as a stoic masked warrior dual wielding sickles set him up to be a mysterious and dangerous ally to the group. Unfortunately all his badass weapons and mask were rarely seen again throughout season eleven and his role since fighting The Reapers earlier in the season had been reduced to being Lydia’s love interest. It’s a shame this character didn’t have the time to grow and have an opportunity for the audience to truly learn more about this character.

The Walking Dead Finale

DESTROYING THE MEGA HORDE

By far the most glossed over part of The Walking Dead finale was the way the group dealt with the giant horde that had invaded The Commonwealth. In short, they blew them up. Using sound to lure the walkers to the centre of the rich part of town featuring Governor Milton’s mansion, they piled two dozen barrels of fuel along the sewers and around the surrounding area to blow the walkers to high Heaven. The takeaway from this is that the show has always struggled to maintain the zombies as a viable threat to the survivors, treated more like an inconvenience to them at times.

While of course this makes sense seeing as the passage of time makes the characters more knowledgeable on how to kill and divert the walkers, it then puts pressure on the show’s human villains to really steal the show. The Governor did this, Gareth did this, Negan did this and even Alpha did this. In fact Alpha and The Whisperers made the walkers an actual threat again thanks to their creepy and unique way of weaponising them.

The Walking Dead Finale

However Pamela Milton has always been more of a background villain this series while her lackey Hornsby did all the dirty work putting our characters in danger by manipulating everyone behind the scenes. He met an almost Game of Thrones Little Finger style death at the hands of Carol and Daryl earlier in the season, with his rise to the top being thwarted he no longer held the crown of the series big bad. While Pamela was most certainly not a good person she never really reached villain status until after her sons death which by then was too late to have become truly hated by the audience. Well, she almost was…

The Walking Dead Finale

JUDITH’S FATE REVEALED

The penultimate episode of the series saw Judith Grimes take a bullet from Pamela Milton intended for Maggie. Daryl carries her lifeless body past the enclosing horde and into a nearby hospital, having many parallels with Rick’s first scene back in season one episode one. Fans were shocked to see the daughter of the series original protagonist put on the chopping block in what was potentially the most Walking Dead moment in The Walking Dead finale. Thankfully the plot armour is strong with Judith as she lives to tell the tale. Had Judith bitten the bullet in this episode it would have solidified Pamela’s place as this seasons villain and be a worthy successor to Hornsby, though had this happened it would make the upcoming Rick and Michonne spin-off series less appealing by having no one (other than RJ who still exists in the background somewhere) to come home to.

The Walking Dead Finale

A HIGHLIGHT: NEGAN APOLOGISES FOR GLENS DEATH

What is almost certainly a tease at the two’s partnership in advance of their upcoming spin-off series Dead City, Maggie and Negan sit down to put their grievances aside. While Maggie says she cannot forgive Negan for murdering Glen, she can at least try and stop hating him so much. Negan appears to respect this and understands what he put her through after his and his wife’s near death earlier this season. Among all the negatives discussed here I found this particular interaction very moving and fitting for both characters.

Ever since losing Glen Maggie has been on the war path to avenge him while Negan instead begins his road to redemption knowing that nothing he does will ever be enough to atone for his sins. While we can only anticipate how the two character’s partnership evolves going forward it was a nice moment that somewhat ties up the loose end for those who won’t be watching the new series. To hear Maggie talk about Glen so vividly and passionately was also a nice touch that truly hit home for those of us that remember the character from the early seasons.

The Walking Dead Finale

THE FINAL DEATH – ROSITA

The Walking Dead finale has very few moment’s that really make the audience feel for these characters, it is a sad fact as previously stated that the majority of those we cared about have already gone. Rosita is a character that has always been interesting yet really came into her own after Abraham’s death at the hands of Negan. Since then she has been one of the key enforcers of the group and a formidable fighter, even after becoming a mother. This series saw her take the role as a commonwealth soldier partnered alongside Daryl, with their buddy cop moments being a rather different dynamic than we’d previously seen of the two characters.

Her growing level of screen time and her attachment to her daughter Coco made Rosita a much more likeable character which was why her death was really the only one that mattered in this series finale. Knowing that Coco will grow up in this new world her mother helped build, without having really knowing her is a sad but sentimental reality that hits hard for fans. Despite the genuine and touching farewell the character was given it is still failed to hit the right notes for what was meant to be the climatic last episode of The Walking Dead. If we were unaware of certain characters fates going into the finale there might have been a chance audiences were more gripping the edge of their seats wondering who might not make it, rather than waiting for side characters to kick the bucket instead.

The Walking Dead Finale

DARYL’S HAPPY ENDING

Since Rick left the show Daryl is often depicted as the new main protagonist and in theory, this made perfect sense. He was Ricks right hand man, his personal character growth over the series has evolved and matured from loner hick with a crossbow to well respected leader and hero (still with a crossbow). Not to mention the army of fans behind him that once threatened to riot should he ever be killed off the show. In theory it worked, yet in reality the narrative fell flat. Daryl had to discover who he was without Rick Grimes and while he has certainly come a long way, Rick Grimes he is not, and never will be. Daryl is not a leadership figurehead who commands action through inspiring words, he is a man who gets shit done himself while taking on a lead role when necessary.

This is why perhaps his particular spin-off show may actually work for him, he is still discovering who he is and his role in a world full of flesh eating corpses. It certainly isn’t to be babysitter of Rick’s kids until he returns, as heart warming as that relationship is. There is no place for Daryl in The Commonwealth, even his potential love interest Connie who fans thought he would eventually end up with never came to anything. I guess we’ll have to wait and see where the road takes him going forward, though like Judith tells him just before he leaves, Daryl deserves a happy ending. Its a shame AMC and the show runners didn’t feel the same.

The Walking Dead Finale

THE RETURN OF RICK GRIMES (AND MICHONNE)

If The Walking Dead finale was expected to deliver on one thing, it was to make sure Rick returns to make one final appearance before the curtains close on this eleven season series. Thankfully on this note The Walking Dead did not disappoint. Despite clearly being a setup to the spin-off, this tease actually meant a lot to fans as it brought the whole show full circle. Those who had been watching since the beginning had wanted to see the man himself make a comeback and it’s just disappointing it wasn’t sooner. The internet has already been dissecting every frame from both Rick and Michonne’s cameo at the end of the episode attempting to pick apart where the characters have been and what may come next for the two of them.

While those of us expecting a Rick and Judith reunion at the end of the series may be left wanting, there’s an opportunity that by the end of Rick & Michonne’s series we may be treated to such an ending. As they say when one door closes another one opens, or several if your a TV series with a bunch of spin-offs in the pipeline. We will be covering any information released for those series once trailers drop later this year and next year.

We mention The Walking Dead in our debate on faithful adaptations article which you can read here.

The Walking Dead Finale

Written by George Cooper

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