‘The Walking Dead’ series finale gave more closure than expected, but failed to truly put the series to rest.

‘The Walking Dead’ series finale gave more closure than expected, but failed to truly put the series to rest.

It’s hard to talk about.”The Walking Dead“Not to mention death. It built its reputation as a show where anyone could be killed, and indeed, it turned about a third of its cast every season in its early years. (Lest you forget them, the series finale featured its final moments. (Provides a montage we’ve lost over the years.)

It’s been a long time since death really moved the story forward. With multiple spinoffs on the horizon, the show struggled throughout its final season to maintain the suspense of the series’ salad days, when seemingly anyone could die at any time. If Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Daryl (Norman Reedus) all want to star in the new series, any time their lives are allegedly in danger, the dramatic tension over whether or not they’ll make it is cut to the knees alive. has been

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But even with three of the series’ most visible characters off the table, a cast of literally dozens has survived the last two seasons relatively unscathed. The show was as violent as ever, but devoid of the real sacrifice and pathos that violence would naturally stir. Throughout the last season of “The Walking Dead,” new characters were introduced and developed enough to serve as sacrificial lambs with a frequency that recalls the old jokes about red-shirted ensigns on “Star Trek,” but the series continues to draw its audience. This character did not have time to think about mortality. They died in service of advancing the plot, nothing more.

It was inevitable that the series finale would require a final, epic battle against the titular zombie hordes. “The Walking Dead” has always been at its best when it leans toward its comic-book roots, and to its credit, the episode delivered plenty of lively, comics-worthy action, including several giant explosions and plenty of flesh-tearing shots. And spilling blood to make us all temporarily vegan.

For all the destruction, though, there was little real consequence. Instead of giving us anything resembling real devastation, the finale just gave us the death of a major character. What’s more, they deliver it with the tried-and-true “Walking Dead” trope of a character seemingly running away from danger — only to dramatically lift their shirt to show the audience a stray zombie bite, then malinger for another half hour. While it’s natural to want to give Rosita (Christian Serratos) a final sendoff worthy of her long tenure on the series, she frankly deserved a more spectacular exit. His final moments were bittersweet, but not nearly as gut-wrenching as they would have been had he died in the heat of battle as he had been for most of the series.

It’s true, of course, that the plot isn’t driven by death alone, and to its credit, the ending does a bit more justice to the surviving main cast. Several individual character moments, in fact, dug deep into the show’s lore and meshed nicely with scenes from previous seasons. Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) began his run on the series as a cowardly priest who locked his congregation out of his church at the dawn of the zombie apocalypse; When he risks his life to open the gate and offer sanctuary to the inhabitants of the Commonwealth, it’s a perfect full-circle moment. Similarly, Negan has gone from the series’ most bloodthirsty villain to someone who is finally able to truly repent of his actions, and Maggie’s heartfelt response to his apology rings true to both characters’ journeys. It’s almost enough to believe they’re willing to embark on more adventures together. (And, of course, they are scheduled for next year.)

The denouement is followed by a 10-minute coda that fast-forwards each year and recalls the conclusion of the 1998 Kevin Costner vehicle “The Postman.”,All in all, where the new leader of the community dedicates a memorial to the fallen and ushers in a new era of peace. (This can’t be unintentional – one character is even shown delivering the mail.) Eugene (Josh McDermitt) has started a family; Ezekiel (Kharry Peyton), Mercer (Michael James Shaw) and Carol (Melissa McBride) assume leadership roles; Daryl wanders the frontier in search of adventure. If it’s not the most original place to leave the story, it’s at least a happy one, and a deserved one.

But we’re not done yet. A the second Coda then tries to give fans what they’ve been asking for – the return of Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira). Unfortunately, what should be a moment of pure excitement is undermined by the fact that it is almost entirely unrelated to the events of the previous hour.

There is a clumsy attempt to tie them to their children and community through a monologue played over the aforementioned finale. But most of Rick and Michonne’s return can only be described as trailers for their own upcoming spinoffs, as Rick surrenders to an unseen entity on a beach and Michonne follows a horse. It’s hard to gauge exactly how much appetite there is to answer the question that’s been raised, but leaving things here only reminds us that even if “The Walking Dead” itself is over, the franchise lives on. Whether it evolves into a shell of its former self or merely falters remains to be seen.

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