So we come to an end of another season with Rick Grimes & Co. It was a pretty good season finale. There were a few bumps, but overall it was an effective pivot to next season.
One thing that really worked was the 90-minute format. Would anyone complain if this show was 90 minutes every week? AMC sells more ads; viewers get an episode where the entire cast gets serviced. It really made a big difference having those extra minutes. Think about how this episode would have played out if each storyline was 1/3 shorter? Glenn vs. Cowardly Jackass in the forest had some zazz to it because it kept going on and on and on… It really felt like they were locked in a duel to the death in the forest because we got to spend more time with it (and kept coming back to it). If it was shorter, it would have just felt like they fought in the forest and Glen won. All the storylines felt like they were properly addressed so I didn’t even mind the boring stories (like Sasha’s) because they weren’t stealing time from the important stuff.
The big story turned out to be a anticlimax. Would Rick get kicked out of Alexandria? That was a lot of talk and not much else, because it became clear mid-meeting that the community needed a hard-ass like Rick when zombies got in and Pete showed up all drunk and stabby. This story was a bit of a let-down just because so much time was devoted to it. All the planning, the gun stealing, etc. “Would Rick have to TAKE OVER?!?!?!” It turned out not to be the case. But, I’m happy with the resolution that the peaceful residents of Alexandria seem to realize that they need to toughen up.
The other big news was some information about the W’s. It was kinda weird, to be honest. I’m not sure if either of the two bad guys we saw with W on their forehead were all that compelling. For example, I would have enjoyed more of Gareth from Terminus. He was nifty and interesting. These guys are just kinda there. And the back-story of them maybe considering themselves wolves or something seems kinda lame. But, I guess it’s realistic. People go batshit crazy under less stressful circumstances than a zombie apocalypse. And the trap of all the zombies being released on Darryl and Aaron was pretty cool too– created a neat set-piece. We really need those set-pieces to keep coming because watching a zombie fight like Rick had with the zombies that got inside was kinda lame. Stab in the head, stab in the head, pinned under zombie, struggle, struggle, etc.
And Morgan is back! I started out initially being really skeptical of this story. I mean, why should anyone be high-fiving over Morgan’s return? He’s just the first dude that Rick met and was last seen being TOTALLY insane in his little fortress town. It isn’t like he’s coming with The Cure or he is leading an army of fellow survivors with engineering and farming skills to help Rick. He’s just a dude. But, to their credit, the creators of TWD have kept pushing this story for a long, long time to the point where it “feels” like it has actual momentum. All the negatives to the story still apply, but the rturn of Morgan feels like something to celebrate just because we’ve watched it brewing for so damn long.
And who doesn’t love staff fighting? Who knew that suburban Morgan was a master of the bo-staff? It does seem a little stupid – especially because we didn’t see any staff fighting when he was crazy in his little fortress town a few seasons ago. Probably what happened was the actor’s agent mentioned that his client learned to do staff fighting during fighting choreography school ~40 years ago, and since he’s definitely classing up the TWD cast, could he PLEASE get to be an awesome staff fighter on the TV show? Now Lennie James has a THING when he goes to ComicCon: He can stand there with his staff and look badass while everyone else puts their hands awkwardly in their pockets.
The other storylines interest me far less, but they were okay. I loved Carol’s showdown with Abusive Pete, but we already knew that Carol was badass. What a find that character/actress combo has been! The Father Gabriel and Sasha stuff was just drab, but I didn’t mind it because the other stories felt properly developed this week. I’m not sure anyone cares about Gabriel’s guilty conscious or Sasha’s PTSD. Glenn’s forest fight with the Cowardly Jackass was interesting to watch, but Glenn has been a capable guy for a few seasons now. Nothing new there, but it was fun to watch.
All in all, we’re in an acceptable place heading into next season.
Wish every episode could be 90 minutes because it allowed all the storylines to get serviced. Generally acceptable. Not great, not awesome, but a lot better than some other season finales. Remember when The Governor survived the season finale? It could have been a LOT worse.