‘The Walking Dead’ 6.16 Recap: “Let’s Meet the Man”

We’re all familiar with the phrase “Jump the Shark” (or the more recent “Nuke the Fridge”) when it comes to TV shows and movie series that have outstayed their welcome and have an event occur so insulting to the fan base that it marks the moment where things all start to go downhill. Such a moment concluded the sixth season of ‘The Walking Dead’ last night, and I’m so ticked off, I propose a new phrase everyone can use: “Swing the Bat.”

The 90-minute finale begins with Morgan still searching for Carol. He walks past a sign that says “You Are Alive” – which I believe may be one of the messages he planted himself before he joined back up with Rick and the others this season.

Back in Alexandria, Carl gets ready to head out with the others in an attempt to get Maggie to a doctor at the Hilltop. Enid wants to come along, but Carl wants to keep her safe, so he tricks her into thinking she can go and then locks her in a closet. Carl joins Rick, Abe, Sasha, Aaron, Eugene and (of course) Maggie in the RV as they head out of the community. Rick leaves Father Gabriel in charge to defend the place. That can’t be good news.

Morgan comes across a horse left all by itself in the middle of nowhere. It’s saddled up and seems well taken care of, but that doesn’t stop Morgan from stealing it and using it to further search for Carol. He eventually finds her curled up against a doorway in a small town. She’s injured on her left side, but Morgan manages to get her indoors and bandage her up. Later, Carol tells Morgan how she had to leave Alexandria because she can’t be around people she cares about anymore. She can’t be around them because that means she’ll eventually have to kill for them. Morgan counters by telling Carol that people are all that matter in this world.

The RV is stopped by a group of Saviors blocking the road. They’ve been taking it out on a guy we saw earlier in the episode who seems to be from one of the other communities that is paying “tribute” to Negan. (The man had mentioned something about living in a library.) Rick gets out of the RV with the others to assess the situation. After a brief conversation with the Saviors’ leader about life and death (and how you should treat others “like it’s your last day on Earth”), Rick decides that they’ll find another route, and has Abe (who’s driving) turn the RV around.

A big chunk of this overlong episode is devoted to the group in the RV continuing to run into roadblocks. First, they hit one where even more Saviors are waiting for them, so they turn around again. Then, a different route is blocked by a huge wall of cut-down trees blocking the way. (I’m not even going to ask how the Saviors built this so quickly. Even if they had heavy equipment – as one of Rick’s group suggests – it would have taken all day to do this.) Finally, they find a group of Walkers chained to each other blocking the road. When Rick and a couple others go to clear the obstacle, they notice that each of the Walkers is wearing a personal effect from Michonne, Daryl, Glenn and Rosita – letting Rick’s group know they’ve been captured… or worse.

While this is all going on, Morgan goes outside to kill and cut down a Walker who was hung from a tall metal structure. Returning to check on Carol, he finds she’s abandoned him, so he hops back on the horse to go looking for her. However, the Savior who survived the gunfight with Carol and took her rosary has finally caught up with her. He shoots Carol in the arm first and then a second time in the leg. He goes to fire a fatal bullet into her, but Morgan arrives, shooting the man dead. As he attends to Carol, a pair of guys show up, one on horseback, one not, but both in what looks to be body armor. Morgan tells the standing guy that he took his horse and that Carol needs help. The guys – who seem nice enough – offer to help, and the one not on horseback shakes Morgan’s hand. They don’t seem like Saviors, nor do they seem as if they’re from the Hilltop. So perhaps a new ally? This is Morgan’s last scene in the episode, so any additional info will have to wait until next season.

It’s getting dark now, and Eugene reasons that the Saviors are looking for the RV, but they don’t know how many people might be inside at any given time. He volunteers to drive it while the others all take Maggie on a cot and try to walk her through the woods to the Hilltop. Seems like a great plan… Hey, you know what would have been a better plan, Rick? Just you and Abe going to the Hilltop on your own without the RV and bringing back a doctor for Maggie. But that wouldn’t have been helpful to the writers – who have to get our heroes to continue doing stupid things just to put them in situations like the one this episode ends in.

Sure enough, Rick and the others don’t get Maggie very far when they hear whistling around them in the woods. They run into an open clearing, where they’re surrounded by a big group of armed Saviors. The RV is there too, with a captured and beaten Eugene. The guy who Rick met back at the very first roadblock tells him that everyone is going to need to get down on their knees. Daryl, Glenn, Rosita and Michonne are released from the back of a van and made to get down on their knees as well. Finally, the infamous Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) emerges from inside the RV, carrying a baseball bat with barbed wire wrapped around it, which he has named “Lucille.”

Negan then goes into a long speech that would make most Bond villains jealous – telling Rick and the others how they’re now going to work for him and how he’s going to take half of what they have. He then says that one of them will need to die as punishment for how many of his people they’ve killed up to this point. He goes back and forth among all the potential victims –teasing Carl (whom he figures out is Rick’s son), taunting Maggie (which gets Glenn all fired up), and even getting Abe to rise up seemingly to volunteer his own life in exchange for the others.

When it comes down to deciding, Negan plays a game of “Eeny Meeny Miney Moe,” until his bat points at the one he’s going to kill – a POV shot directly at the home viewer, so we have no idea whom he’s selected. He swings the bat, people scream, blood pours down the screen, and the episode fades to black without revealing the person Negan has killed.

What a crock! It’s one thing to have a cliffhanger ending for your season. It’s quite another to insult the home viewers with what is essentially a huge cop-out. For weeks now, we’ve been teased about the Negan character and promised that when he shows up, it would result in a bad end for one of our regular cast members. Then, after weeks of waiting to see what happens, the show-runners decide to play games and make us wait another six months?! Well, fine… the rest of you can wait. I’m done.

After a season where producer Scott Gimple and the writers tried to trick us two other times with character “deaths” that never really happened (once with Glenn and once just last week with Daryl), when it finally came time to deliver the goods, now they’re going to make loyal fans wait. I can almost hear the conversation in the writing room: “We can turn this into the biggest thing since ‘Who Shot J.R.?'”; “It will be bigger than the whole Jon Snow question over on Game of Thrones!”; “We’ll come back to HUGE ratings in the Fall!”

I had to turn off ‘Talking Dead’ last night after a smug Scott Gimple – and equally smug Robert Kirkman – tried to tell viewers that they ended the finale where they did because “That was the end of that story.” Except you didn’t end the story! You left the end hanging out there. And rest assured that when this show comes back in the fall – while it may reveal who got killed, I guarantee you that the majority of the first two episodes will be spent on what’s going on back at Alexandria; what happened with Daryl, Glenn, Michonne and Rosita during their capture by Dwight; and more about what’s going on with Morgan and Carol. Yes, it will be a good two or three episodes before we see the repercussions of Negan’s execution.

Because that’s how ‘The Walking Dead’ has been for a long time now. Back at the end of Season 3, my fellow HDD colleague Aaron Peck was so frustrated with that season’s finale that he stopped recapping the series. Now after three seasons of my own recapping, I think I’m ready to hang it up. Honestly, I just don’t care anymore. I don’t mind being manipulated as a viewer, but don’t insult me. Mr. Gimple, Mr. Kirkman – you both should be ashamed of yourselves.

Which 'Walking Dead' Character Do You Think Negan Killed?

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  1. NJScorpio

    As someone who left this show behind several seasons ago…I took pleasure in this. The show (from what I recall) became as formulaic and as one note as the series of ‘Paranormal Activity’ movies.

  2. Csm101

    Walking Dead left you with blue balls Shannon 🙂 I didn’t hate this episode. I’m not at all surprised they ended it that way, although I thought we would see who the victim would be. I voted Maggie just because she was sick and maybe Negan was feeling extra spiteful. I heard from my friend that there’s supposed to be a clue as to who it is according to Talking Dead. I do think they made some really stupid choices with the driving back and forth. I would’ve taken my chances the first encounter and sprayed as many bullets with the first small group, although there might of been other saviors in hiding no matter whete they went. I’d imagine that’s what the show would imply.

    • I think Negan killed Maggie to. I think the clue is when Negan says “hell, I’m not growing a garden here..” and we all know that Maggies pregant at the moment…

      • I don’t think it’s Maggie for one simple reason: What was the point of wasting screen time showing Maggie get a haircut if the writers were just going to kill her off in the next episode?

        Lauren Cohan is going to have short hair next season, and they needed to establish that she got it cut before the Negan encounter in order to avoid any continuity problems. That’s not a concern if Negan killed her in the finale. That being the case, why make a big deal out of revealing her new short hair?

        • Csm101

          Apparently in the books she does become more of a leader, but I keep going back and forth. I’m going to stick with Maggie as my main one, but maybe it could still be Glenn. Just because the show saved him mid season, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t kill him now. My other guess is Daryl because he’s a main character and losing him would definitely shake things up for the group and the viewers. Anybody notice he’s getting his own show riding on a motorcycle? Not that he couldn’t juggle two shows, but just a thought. So I guess for me it comes down to Daryl, Maggie, or Glenn, but I’ll stick with Maggie as my main gut feeling. It would be dumb if it was Rosita or the Mullet guy. Abraham a small possibility, but I don’t think it would make a strong enough impression still, same goes with Sasha. I guess there’s Michonne, but I just don’t want to even consider that a possibility. Chris, who would be your second pick and why? Josh, who do you think it could be and why?

          • I’m fairly certain it’s Abraham. The show spent a great deal of effort trying to build up his character this season, including all the stuff in the finale about him wanting to build a life with Sasha. He also got a big moment in the finale where he apologized to Eugene. That’s a classic move by this show’s writers to signal that the character’s about to be offed.

            Other hints that it’s Abraham:

            – After Negan delivered the first blow, he chortled “You’re really taking it like a champ!” – basically expressing surprise that the victim didn’t get knocked down. That definitely rules out Maggie, Eugene or Aaron, and likely Glenn, Rosita or Sasha. But Abraham is one tough mother.
            – Because Abraham is the most physically intimidating member of the group, he’d be the best person for Negan to make an example out of. Much more so than Daryl or Maggie, both of whom are in weakened conditions.
            – We know it isn’t Rick or Carl, because Negan explicitly ordered his men that if anyone moved from the line, they were to cut out Carl’s other eye and feed it to Rick. Therefore, neither can be the victim.
            – The Abraham character was killed off in the comics before this point. (He was the one who took the arrow through the eye at the train tracks, not Denise.) This would be a convenient excuse to realign the two stories.
            – On the other hand, Negan kills Glenn in this scene in the comics, and I’m betting that Scott Gimple will think it too obvious to do the same thing here. He’ll try to throw fans off by killing someone else here and saving Glenn’s death for later.

            My $.02.

          • My second pick would be Carl, he’s kind of a boring character and how much would it fuck Rick up to see his own kid killed in front of him? Negan is supposed to be the ultimate villain so that would certainly go a long way towards showing it.

            I don’t think it will be Glenn though, Negan kills Glenn in the comics. So to have him kill Glenn in the show would be too predictable IMHO.

  3. Reaction to this episode seems to be overwhelmingly vitriolic. I can understand why that’s happening, but I don’t agree. This is nowhere near a jump-the-shark moment for the show. It’s a straightforward cliffhanger, which is a time-honored tradition in television. Countless shows end seasons on cliffhangers. The Walking Dead has ended most of its seasons on cliffhangers, and will do so again in the future.

    Really, the only reason this one feels like a cheat is that the show bungled the Glenn fake-out “death” earlier in the season. That was such a bullshit cop-out and was handled so poorly that of course another cliffhanger shortly afterwards can only upset viewers. From that perspective, it’s certainly a mistake to do it now.

    However, aside from the last minute of screen time, this was an amazingly tense and suspenseful episode. As Kirkman and Gimple said on Talking Dead afterwards, the point of the episode was to humble Rick, who starts out incredibly cocky (as he’s been all season) and is systematically shown just how out of his depth he really is. It’s downright harrowing when the walls close in on the characters. I especially liked the way that Eugene’s great plan to divert the Saviors was foiled in about 30 seconds. Rick’s in a worse spot now than he was in Terminus, and Carol won’t be coming to single-handedly save the day again.

    • Shannon Nutt

      A cliffhanger would involve something unexpected to mull over. 99 percent of viewers knew Negan was showing up and that he would kill someone. Not showing the victim isn’t a cliffhanger, it’s a cop out.

    • eric

      Yes an amazing episode. It always makes me laugh when a show gets people all upset and emotional about something that happens in the show and they call it a cop out or blame it on bad writing. This show has done its job and most shows wish they could accomplish this. Emotional attachment and commitment. If the viewer wasn’t already emotionally engaged and hooked on the show then this new development wouldn’t matter as much.

      The fact is, this show is awesome and no show is absolutely perfect. If you show a beloved character die then people argue the character isn’t really dead. If you show someone about to die or not in a clear manner then people argue that the character is not really dead or it was really a different character or what we saw was not what really happened. This show has never ended with a main character really getting killed, they have always had at least a few minutes to resolve it or intentionally made it unclear.

      So many reviewers of this show assume that everyone knew Negan was showing up to off someone, but that isn’t true. Yes I am sure a portion of the audience suspected this but not everyone. When I talk to people who love this show and don’t watch talking dead or follow the comics, this was a huge surprise to them and has got them talking and all excited about it.

      This show has never been as brave as another well followed show when it comes to killing off its characters and this season I think they have already shown their hand that they are no longer willing to kill off their top characters. It will be a minor character and not showing defers that annoyance to the next season where we will forget about a few episodes in.

    • Charles M

      I feel the same. The show got good since S4. This was a terrible way to end a season that was mostly good. I can understand Aaron Peck wanting to stop because S2 and S3 were extremely terrible (especially S3), but this is just a few moments out of a whole. I imagine people will watch next season, we’ll see the death, and then everyone forgets but hopes they don’t do this again.

    • Matt

      Outside of the ending, I thought this was actually a really good episode. I haven’t watched the show in forever, but knowing that this was coming was what made me excited to see how they handled it. Everything up to the kill non-reveal was great and I echo Josh’s thoughts above.

      My main issue with the ending is that not so much that it’s a cliffhanger, but I feel like it robs us (as viewers) of an exceptionally powerful and harrowing moment from the comics on which the show is based. In the comics (spoilers!!!!), it’s Glenn that dies, but watching Negan beat him to death, having him struggle to call out Maggie’s name as his final word(s), only to have Negan leave with a “Ta-ta!” works so well. Add to the fact that we are left with a group of people devastated and feeling as though they have finally met their match. The sense of hopelessness and despair that it leaves you with is depressing and oh-so-satisfying and would serve as a much more effective version of “what happens now” than what we got.

      I liken it to the fourth season finale of Dexter with the Trinity Killer–if we had seen him killing someone but didn’t know who it was, it wouldn’t have had the same effect. Instead, we got it, and the immediate reaction and it made it all the better for it. I’d rather spend the time in between seasons being emotionally wrecked by the death than feeling as though the show didn’t have the guts to decide and neutered such a powerful moment. Sure, we’ll still get THAT moment, but since we’ll see the aftermath immediately, it likely won’t stick with us as long.

        • Eric

          I agree Aaron, Better Call Saul is one of my favorites as well. I have to agree with Shannon. This show has just been in decline and the cop out at the end is just another ratings driver for fall to find out who Neegan killed. i hope it ends up being Glenn because then its a cliff hanger that is already not a surprise and will just further how the show just keeps plodding along and dragging the story to make it last longer.

  4. eric

    Even if they showed who bashed in the head, people would be arguing if that character was really dead or not… ala John Snow. The episode started off like many other episodes with too many people leaving their safe haven behind for no good reason and risking everything. There was even a moment of Rick machismo that felt like many other episodes where they ended on a kick ass note. In fact I think the purpose of the number of survival episode seasons this season was to make us feel our favorite characters were safe no matter what. But as soon as they avoided the first road block, it was nothing like other episodes from before. They have never backed down from these things in the past. With each new obstacle that they came across Rick fell deeper in despair and the magnitude of their situation became more evident. When it seemed they found a way out at the end and all was good again… it wasn’t.

    I thought they did a great job building up the Saviors and keeping us guessing through the season. At times the show lead us to believe that our group could handle the saviors just like anyone else. Not this time, this it is different and it isn’t going to be just one episode to fix this.

    I think the best thing for the story would be to kill a main “favorite” character like Daryl, Rick, Glen, Maggie or Michonne. But, I think their are too many lesser characters that they will choose from instead, Eugene, Abraham, Sasha, Rosita and Ross. The ultimate would be killing Carl, who could ever forgive Neegan for killing a kid and the damage it would do to Rick and they others mentally would be insane.

    I also fear that they will spend the first two episodes next season not resolving the end of this season. This is an opportunity for the show to change in many ways and I hope they take advantage of it. For all I care, the show could in a whole new direction where the zombies really don’t matter that much. We have seen repeatedly there are worse things than zombies out there and they are people.

    • Charles M

      Game of Thrones has magic that can bring back people alive. This show doesn’t. Also, Jon Snow, died so that wasn’t the cliffhanger. Whether he gets resurrected again is another matter. But the GoT writers were smart enough to let us see Snow getting stabbed a hundred times and dying in the snow, because it was important to the story. They didn’t rely on some gimmick to get people talking. The cliffhanger, what’s the fall out going to be now?, came naturally. Which is something that would’ve happened in Walking Dead if we had seen who got killed. Seeing the death would’ve brought all kinds of questions and talking.

      PS, I was one of those people who thought it was a mistake ending with Jon Snow dying, and it should’ve ended with him waking up. But WD made me realize what foolish idea that was. It would’ve undercut the tragedy of the scene. GoT are superior writers to Scott Gimple and Kirkman.

    • Chaz

      Abraham really isnt a minor character, he was a big part of the comics and really has been here too, Carol, if I recall right is already gone in the comics so they could off her and it would start falling in line with whats already happened. Abraham was supposed to be the doctor who got shot in the eye, so they did change that for the TV show. Who goes from Negan’s bat could be anybody really, its a main and beloved character in the comics that goes and I wont spoil that one for people who dont know and they could stick with that or pick someone else, like I said, I think Carol is already gone by this point so that could work or maybe they will take the fan favorite of the show, Daryl instead of the fan favorite of the comic, I’m interested to see what happens and I will definitely be watching next season…..great show 🙂

  5. John Smith

    Lol, Shannon said he’s done with the show. But I’ll bet he’ll tune in to see who Negan killed comes October. 🙂

    Personally I enjoyed most of this episode, although I didn’t care for the Carol and Morgan storyline. I don’t understand why they’ve decided to suddenly turn Carol into her own self again. I like her better when she’s a bad ass.

  6. Les

    The thing that really irritated me was Daryl getting caught in the previous episode. He is supposed to be this great hunter/tracker and some dufus and/or group just sneaks up on him in the woods? Daryl has always been proven to be better than that.

    Then in this episode, they drive the RV underneath a big overpass where I think the logs are blocking the road, as I recall, and no one thinks this might be or could be a trap from above? Then someone above pushes that guy off of the bridge and he hangs.

    Then they drive the RV right up to the chained zombie road block (yea, that doesn’t look like a trap) and seemingly once again, or so it seemed to me, no one seemed to think that this was or could be a trap. Yea, they got out with their guns but if Neegan would have wanted to take them all out there, they would have all been killed. It just seemed stupid. If this would have been a video game it would have been: Headshot!! Headshot!! Fortunately, Neegan didn’t want any of them dead yet.

    I really thought the writer or writers of the past couple of episodes should be fired for writing stupid scripts with most of group acting like they were Day One Rookies getting caught just to further some season finale. The writing was really lazy.

    I kinda doubt Maggie got killed at the end, even though she looks like she isn’t far off, just because of the entire pregnancy angle would never be answered with exactly what is going on with the baby. There has been some speculation about the possibility that the baby has already died/stillborn and might actually already be a zombie in the womb.

  7. Tom

    Sorry but I don’t get the hate. The Walking Dead is miles better than a lot of stuff on TV these days. I guess it’s just the *in* thing to be negative.

  8. Csm101

    Wow, I just read about a petition to reveal the death by Lucille. Obviously the show must have done something right because fans are in a fury. They even did a Hitler bunker skit about it. It’s funny how that has become the go to scene for venting fanboys. It was pretty funny.

  9. I didn’t mind this episode, which may seemed kind of odd considering my rant last week. I thought about it and I think there are a couple of reasons why:
    1) The majority of the utter stupidity required to build up to this episode was handled last week and before, so I could just enjoy most of this one for what it was.
    2) It did do a good job at building the despair angle and I really liked Morgan as Negan.
    3) Finally, I didn’t mind the ending. Unfortunately, I think that’s because of one sad fact: I just don’t give a crap who got killed anymore. I don’t.
    That last one bothers me a bit. This show has dragged crap along and dicked around in so many episode over the last few seasons. They’ve drawn main characters so thin, completely ignored them or just done bizarre 180’s on them. I just find myself not caring about some, wanting others to die or believing that they truly don’t have the balls to kill anyone that I would consider shocking.

  10. david Batarseh

    I think Norman Reedus is a goner since he was the only movie star attached to this project in the beginning( also Michael Rooker.) I am sure he would like to get back into mainstream movies and get some decent paydays now that he is a legit star. Makes sense, since Neegan is billed as the ultimate bad guy and what better first appearance then to kill the series most beloved character. It would cement him as the best villain the show has seen up until now and would offer Rick all the motivation he needs to further the next chapter of this series. P.S. Glen would offer the last part but not the first, his death would not hit as hard, so I am thinking they are going to switch this one around.

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