Synopsis of 6×16: Morgan continues his quest to help Carol, Rick and a group leave Alexandria in hopes of getting Maggie to the doctor at the Hilltop. They face a whole lot of roadblocks in the process and Negan is introduced with Lucille.
The season six finale opens rather tamely with Morgan still in search of Carol. He quickly finds a sign proclaiming, “You Are Alive,” as well as the horse she’d stolen last episode. Taking it for his own, he rides around until he finds her curled up on a stoop, injured and crying. At the same time, her Savior stalker is still trucking along behind them.
Meanwhile, Carl and Enid are arguing about her going with the group to take Maggie to the doctor at the Hilltop. He eventually locks her in the closet and piles into the RV without her, telling her to just survive somehow. Rick, Sasha, Abraham, Eugene, Aaron, and Maggie also get into the RV after Father Gabriel promises to keep Judith and Alexandria safe. We’re trusting Father Gabriel again I guess.
In the woods, the Saviors are chasing down a man in the woods. The leader explains to the scared man that they broke the rules and that this is how it has to be. They end up beating him and dragging him into the middle of the road. So all that speculation about which character was in the road from last week’s previews – the answer is: none of them.
Maggie isn’t in great shape after collapsing last week, even as Rick re-assures her that everything will be fine. That’s about the time they hit the first Savior roadblock with the random guy in the middle of the road. Rick and the leader have a chat, which is tense, but ultimately ends with the two groups parting ways without bloodshed, even if they have to leave that poor guy from the Hilltop there.
After patching up Carol, she explains that there’s a walker around there somewhere – she was going to kill it, but was too busy bleeding. Morgan is insistent that she’ll need stitches and antibiotics and to go back to the group. He promises to secure the perimeter for the night, so that they can leave out in the morning and she flatly tells him no.
He tries to tell her about how Rick was also out looking for her, but she’s still upset anyone at all went after her. I still feel like her character transition is jarring, even if they tried to telescope it for the audience. Essentially, she doesn’t want to kill anyone, which she feels like she’ll always have to do if she cares for anyone. O…kay.
While driving the RV, Abraham takes the time to have a super optimistic, future-thinking conversation about children with Sasha, which may or may not mark him for death. They hit a second roadblock and Carl wants to make a stand, but Rick resists. Instead, they back up again while one of the Saviors shoots a gun up into the air, and it’s back to looking for another route.
Morgan ends up finding the walker that Carol heard hanging from a pole. He climbs up and offs it before cutting it down. By the time he makes his way back to her, she’s left once again and Morgan jumps on his horse to go after her.
Unfortunately, the RV is only left with a half tank of gas after hitting the second roadblock and the group quickly, and frustratingly, hit a third. This one is a “red rover” of walkers chained together across the road, and it’s only once they get closer do they realize one has Michonne’s clothing and hair and another has Daryl’s arrows stuck in it. Just as Rick goes to kill one, the Saviors begin firing at their feet. The group hastily clears the roadblock and moves forward.
After the attack, the RV isn’t doing much better than the demoralized group. A fourth roadblock keeps them from their destination once again and Abraham begins asking where they’re supposed to go at this point. Maggie is burning up, but Rick assures her they’ll get to the Hilltop and the doctor in time.
Carol gets surprisingly far for being injured and even manages to block a walker into a dumpster before fighting off another one. But finally the Savior stalker catches up to her and manages to disarm her. She all but gives up, as he shoots her in the arm and then the leg, intent on watching her die. Carol even goads him into finishing the job, but before he can Morgan stops the man. He breaks his own non-killing code and shoots the Savior several times.
Instead of being happy about this turn of events, Carol is upset, even as Morgan tells her that she’ll come back from this. The man whose horse Morgan found and who Rick tried to shoot last week finds them and offers help. So, it’s a good thing he wasn’t shot? Maybe. Not sure who they are yet in their paintball gear.
At the next checkpoint, the random guy from before gets tossed down and hung. Rick stops Aaron from putting him out of his misery because they’re eventually going to need the bullets. The logs built up in their way catch fire and someone shouts to them that they better get a move on. He asks if Rick’s treating his people right, like it’s their last day on earth. When it looks like none of the routes are going to be clear, the group is forced to make another plan.
Eugene volunteers to drive the RV alone to the next inevitable roadblock and everyone says tearful goodbyes. He gives Rick the instructions for making bullets and the rest of the group carry Maggie off into the woods. Unfortunately, they don’t make it very far before they hear an eerie whistling. They run right into a spotlight and a trap, at the head of which is their RV and a captured Eugene.
The leader from the very first checkpoint steps out and has them disarmed. Rick, off his game since discovering the walker wearing Michonne’s clothes, insists they can talk about it, but the man says it’s time to listen. The group is directed to get on their knees, Maggie included, and then Daryl, Michonne, Glenn, and Rosita are pulled out of a box and put on their knees with the rest of the group.
Negan comes out to a well-earned amount of fanfare and Jeffrey Dean Morgan delivers a spectacular monologue about the new world order and his expectations for the group. He has to kill one of them, but after that the group is going to start working for him – he wants half their shit. Negan introduces them to Lucille and proceeds to play a game of eenie meenie minie mo to pick who out of the group he kills.
Negan then proceeds to beat one of the group members to death, but we as an audience won’t know for months until the seventh season, robbing us of an iconic death scene and the emotional impact that would have come along with it. It’s annoying, cheap, and not worth the extra fifteen minutes of commercials jammed into the episode. The tension was fantastic, the momentum was there, and then… cut to black. Who do you guys think rolled under the dumpster?
On Talking Dead, Kirkman stressed that this episode was all about tearing Rick Grimes down and that the death isn’t the end of this story – it’s Rick’s absolute loss of control and his helplessness in the face of this new situation. The story of season seven is meant to examine the fallout from this mystery death, but it’s sure to leak long before then and lose any impact it had on the audience.
…At least Negan’s cool? And The Kingdom is coming?