Walking Dead S06E16
Walking Dead proved once again they have no respect for their audience. They don’t know how to pace a show & just drawing it out & pretend it’s a cliffhanger. It’s “Glen’s Dead! Wink wink!” all over again. For one, this episode didn’t need to be 90 minutes long. It could have easily fit in 60 minutes, and still amp up the drama from what we saw. And if this episode was truly about Rick’s downfall, as Kirkman & Gimple are claiming now, and not about who died, they could have done it much better without leaving us with the crappy ending we got. Instead, they’re blatantly screwing with viewers, and not even delivering on their goals very well.
So I decided to rewrite the episode. After the jump!
Open on Rick quickly & smoothly making the decision to take Maggie to Hilltop. Did you notice we didn’t even see sick Maggie until halfway through the episode? Fix that. Show how sick she is, how crazy the situation could be, but Rick’s leadership and confidence in everyone’s ability to handle bad situations inspires everyone to volunteer to help.
For the first 30 minutes of the show, cut back and forth to the Carol storyline. Contrast Carol’s desire to give up with Rick being fully in control. Rick’s got this shit, and everyone knows it. At each road block he has a plan, and the plan works out perfectly. They’re only seeing 5-8 Saviors at each one, nothing to worry about, but Rick Isn’t interested in fighting yet, he and the crew know their mission is to get Maggie to Hilltop and do what they have to do.
He’s figuring out exactly where they need to go next, and everyone believes they’re getting closer to Hilltop & saving Maggie. The crew’s confidence is bolstered each time they find a way around the road blocks. They even manage to off a Savior or two in the meantime. “We got this! We know how to handle this!” Rick keeps saying, not in a scared way; they all really believe it.
Wrap up the Carol thing quicker. She gets saved around the halfway mark. Blah blah blah, Kingdom guys show up, hurray. Once that is done, don’t go back to it.
There’s an effective technique in shows where you start out cutting between storylines, like a normal show, and then dropping the B-storyline completely to focus and amp up the tension in the A-storyline. Six Feet Under did it amazingly well with David’s kidnapping. Start that technique here, halfway through the show.
It’s now getting dark, but Rick knows they’re close. They see lights in the distance and think its Hilltop. Everyone’s smiling, they got this! They handled it! They’ve only seen a handful of Saviors, and they made it! Until everything comes crashing down. A massive tree on the side of the road explodes on fire and crashes down across the road. The RV smashes into it, and we fade to black to what is the last commercial break of the show.
We fade up from the commercial break and Rick & the gang are surrounded by 200+ Saviors. Rick is pissed off and full of steam. Whispering to the other’s “We got this!” The saviors rough him up and kneel him and the rest down, bring out Daryl and the others. Everyone still has a ton of fight in them because Rick is confident. Then Negan steps out.
Anyone who’s read the comic, and people who’ve seen Jeffery Dean Morgan’s monologue knows how powerful that scene is, and how great Morgan is in the role so far. Use that. At this point we’re not cutting away to other storylines. Stick with this group, do as many long takes as you can get away with.
Rick started full of fire, and Negan seems amenable at first. “We need workers, we want all of you to live” etc. He’s super charming! Rick is talking back, Negan isn’t impressed. But over the next 20 minutes, as we sit with the two of them, Negan slowly amps up the terror, and we see Rick’s resolve fade. Rick tries to struggle & fight back, but Negan does his “threatening the kid” thing. In the struggle, Negan pulls Rick out from the group so he’s now facing everyone. Rick is looking into the faces of all these people he’s let down, and now they’re terrified.
Slowly Rick realizes all the confidence he had doesn’t mean shit anymore. He’s lost control and he’s going to get everyone killed. Negan is one charming, sadistic asshole who has an incredible way with words. He’s reduced Rick to a quivering mess. Negan has broken him and he hasn’t even killed anyone yet.
Then we play out the eenie-meenie-miney-moe. And while I think the shows cliffhanger should have been what the gang does after Maggie meets Lucille (switching up the comic & still delivering a devastating season finale), I think it could have ended without the audience knowing who it was and still have been more powerful than what they delivered.
Kirkman & Gimple claim that who they killed will be the start of the next storyline, and that they wanted last night’s episode to be about breaking Rick, so let’s stick with that. Remember Rick is facing everyone now. We all know Rick won’t be the one who dies, so let’s use that. Eenie-meenie-miney-moe montage. Now, instead of ending with that stupid POV shot, cut to a close-up of Rick’s face. Show his reaction. Show the horror on his face as he sees one of his closest friends beat to death in front of him. Show his utter failure.
Fade to black. Cut to Chris Hardwick screaming into the camera like he usually does.