Warning: Spoilers for the season finale “Last Day on Earth” below
After last night’s controversial ending to its extended finale, The Walking Dead suffered a ton of backlash on social media and in recaps over the decision to not show who Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) killed from the core cast. Though many felt that the season had really been building up to this, especially given the hype (by comic book fans) of Negan’s arrival, the decision to not show who he beat to death was met with an outcry.
The show’s executive producers Scott M. Gimple and Robert Kirkman were on Talking Dead following the finale, and offered some explanations as to why that decision was made — especially since it was so close on the heels of the fake-out with Glenn (and Daryl — unless one of them is dead now). Kirkman said,
“First of all, as a fan, I love cliffhangers. I love that tension. I love the anticipation of finding out what it is. If you read the comic book series, I think pretty much every issue ends with a big cliffhanger… And I think that’s a lot of fun. But this story, the cliffhanger isn’t the story. The story of the episode, and Scott and Matt Negrete did such a great job of setting up how confident Rick was going into this. This episode is about the loss of that confidence. It’s about changing that mindset. It’s about tearing Rick Grimes down and that’s the conclusion of this story. So while it does seem like a cliffhanger, that’s the conclusion. And the story of who died, the story of what comes next, of who Negan killed, of what comes after that, that’s really the story of season 7.”
“I would say, when they opened up the hatch [on Lost], we had to wait and see who was in the hatch. I liked thinking about that. I liked talking about it. … We have to do an episode that justifies it to you. We have to do something so great and so intense that you’re like ‘Okay, all right, fair play.’ That’s the challenge we have and we’re going to do it. We’re going to deliver you something fantastic. … We want you to be one of those people in that lineup. We want you to feel that suspense and that terror and that pain, and we’re going to deliver you a story next season that justifies it.”
Personally I don’t think that comparing it to the hatch on Lost is a great idea, since that was another cliffhanger that probably shouldn’t have happened the way it did. Also, it feels like a show shouldn’t wait until the next season to figure out how to justify the actions in the finale of the one before it. But how did you feel, viewers? Has the show finally overplayed its hand? Did you think it was the right decision to leave off with just Negan’s introduction, and save the death for next season? Or did you feel like it was an integral part of this season that should have been decided?
(h/t to EW for transcription)