‘The Walking Dead’ airs frustrating finale, leaves fans hanging

This Sunday, “The Walking Dead” ended its sixth season. The popular series is an AMC show that follows Sheriff Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) as he deals with life during the zombie apocalypse. The sixth season dealt with Rick and his group settling down in the town of Alexandria. Things then go horribly wrong as they are warrant to do in the apocalypse. Minor spoilers below.

This season was split into two different arches with eight episodes each, one airing in the fall of 2015 and the other airing in the winter. It’s been doing this since Scott M. Gimple took over as showrunner in the fourth season. The fall-half of the season dealt with Rick and the gang and a surprising appearance of a hoard of zombies near Alexandria. These episodes follow a single day as our leads are scattered.

The second half was more about the characters adjusting to life in Alexandria while a new group, called the “Saviors,” periodically attacks them. Unfortunately, the second half of the season lacks the focus of the first half and it just meanders around, waiting for the season finale. The focus switches more to Rick, Carol and Morgan.

The season finale more than makes up for it. A major theme for this season has been overconfidence. Rick has become convinced that he has seen it all and every decision he makes is brilliant and he can control any situation. But as more and more Saviors appear, Rick realizes that he has bitten off more than he can chew. The season finale makes sets up for the next season and turns it into a tense pay-off and a nice cap to a character arch.    

The biggest issue of this season is the same issue the show has faced during its entire run: The sudden and pointless deaths. I won’t say who falls to this running theme, but saying there are deaths is not surprising. Saying characters die in “The Walking Dead” is like saying the sky is blue. The sudden deaths are meant to represent death in real life. Death in real life is often sudden and pointless. The problem is that this happens on the show so often it loses its effect, becoming more of an annoyance than anything. And this season is hit hard by this annoyance. There are some nice character sendoffs mixed in though.

This season introduces an annoying new trope for “The Walking Dead.” A cliff hanger fake-out. Basically, it makes it look like a character has died at the end of episode, but it turns out fine in the following epsiode. It’s cheap and frustrating.

Where this season shines is in the acting, especially Melissa McBride and Lennie James. McBride plays the pragmatic Carol.

James plays Morgan, a man who believes that mankind can do better despite the hell he finds himself in. This season gives both of them plenty of time to shine particularly when they get to play off each other.

At the end of season four, Rick laughed maniacally as he declared that their enemies “Were messing with the wrong people.” Season six ended with Rick realizing that he was the one messing with the wrong people.