The Walking Dead 816 “Wrath” Finale Review – Epic or Epic Fail?

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The Walking Dead 816 “Wrath” Finale Review – Epic or Epic Fail?

I wanted to love this episode. I really, really did. There was a great buildup and the acting was superb as usual so why did it just not resonate with me?

Maybe I over-built my own expectations as I constructed my preview but my first assessment was “meh.” Overall it was a good episode but, in some ways, things backfired for me just like Eugene’s bullets. Anyone else, anyone, anyone?

Epic Fail?

Wondering if my perspective might change upon reflection, as it sometimes does, I gave it a bit before beginning this review. I combed through social media and found a few others who felt the same way, with a few questioning specific plot points, so at least I wasn’t alone. Of those who agreed with me, the comments ranged from “I’m on the fence“ to “the show is going down down down.”

Most of the posts were positive, though. That led me to closely examine my main expectations – closure and conclusions – both mentioned in interviews with crew and cast. What I perceived instead was story lines changing course rather than concluding.

My big aha from all this reflection? Clearly I was expecting the death of one or more high-profile characters and the cold truth, that I was disappointed because characters lived, made me realize that I had a personal epic fail for sure.

I also expected answers to more than a few of my questions. The outcome there was better, about 50-50. It also helped to know that some questions have more than one answer and that I’ll probably get the rest of them in the coming season.

Questions Answered

I’ve kept a running list of questions for some time now. Those answered in “Wrath” were:

  • Will Walker Simon have a role in the Finale other than hanging out at the fence?
    • I had thought he might play a role in Dwight’s conclusion but no.
  • Have we seen the last of the Negan dumpster?
    • Despite the heavy emphasis, it looks like it’s done.
  • Will Tara, if no one else, at least try to save Dwight?
    • Nope, they were in different battles. Daryl saved the day for Dwight, though – sure didn’t see that one coming.
  • Has Aaron convinced the Oceansider’s to join the Hilltop?
    • Why, yes, he has. Their help fending off the Savior attack at the Hilltop made all the difference.

 

  • Will Negan get his full attrition? In other words, who will out-fake whom?
    • Wow, biggest surprise of all here. Eugene out-faked everyone, including me.
  • Will we lose not-right-Morgan or will he walk off into the sunset only to turn up on Fear the Walking Dead?
    • Morgan lived, walking off into the clear blue sky for a ‘trading spaces’ episode with Jadis, aka Anne, at the Heaps before heading West into Fear the Walking Dead territory.

 

Other Seminal Moments

All in all, things really did work out for the best for the good guys. So why I am still on the fence like Walker Simon? What else might inform my opinion? Other than the SuperFakeOutHero Eugene surprise, which was quite satisfying, what were the other pivotal moments in this episode?

  • Rick had yet another man-in-the-mirror moment. He knows that, like Morgan, things are not only not right, but that they’re both worse after their last Savior-seeking episode. He keeps us guessing until the end, when Carl’s words hit home, and he chooses to spare Negan. Good, right?
  • Rosita saved Eugene. Plus she repaid him for the M&C vomit comet with a solid punch. That was good, too, right?
  • Maggie thought her grief could only be assuaged by Negan’s death and Daryl was on her side. That sets up an interesting Season 9 plot but, no, this one just didn’t feel right. In fact, Maggie is in charge so it should have been her taking the lead on Negan’s sitch. And I can’t believe Jesus will go along with Maggie and Daryl, unless he turns out to be a super secret bad guy.

 

Well, more good stuff than bad there, but not enough to sway me to label it as ‘epic’ as I had fully expected. I’m still stuck at “meh.”

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I did get a hoot out of some of the characters’ lines. I’ve been in a fun-Dead-phrase drought since we lost our fiery redhead Abraham but did pick up a few new memorable ones from the Finale. Some of them even seemed to be paying homage to other great lines.

  • “I’m bigger, I’m badder and I have a bat!” Negan
    • OMG, it’s like Evelyn in Fried Green Tomatoes – “Face it girls, I’m older and I have more insurance.”
  • “There’s got to be something after.” Rick
    • Poseidon Adventure – Maureen McGovern’s The Morning After” is now stuck in my head.
  • “You can call me Anne.” Jadis
    • Well, Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al” just replaced “The Morning After.”
  • “I can see.” Father Gabey
  • “Look what you did.” with or without “Carl didn’t know a damn thing.” Negan, again.

 

Other Surprises

While we didn’t see Sherry, I take it that we’re supposed to believe that she and Dwight reconnect and live happily ever after. Wonder if we’ll see them in Season 9?

I think Alden may have been hitting on Maggie and Tara. Who thinks this player is worthy of either of them?

Negan’s facial expressions let us know he was having #allthefeels during Rick’s 10-second Carl soliloquy and knife slash and again as Rick and Michonne explained his future. Spot on, Jeffrey Dean Morgan!

Questions Remaining for Season 9

  • Who the heck is Georgie and what does she really want?
  • Negan gave both Father Gabey and Dwight a lick with Lucille – does that spell the end for either of them?
  • What’s up with Jadis and the helicopter people?
  • Whose names are on those other letters from Carl? Judith for sure, right? Carol and Morgan, maybe?
  • Can we trust Alden and Enid? They both seem to be operating with something up their sleeve.
  • Will we learn anything more about Jadis and the helicopter people?
  • Whose names are on those other letters from Carl? Judith for sure, right? Carol and Morgan, maybe?

 

My Conclusions

If you watched Fear the Walking Dead and Talking Dead, what did you think? I enjoyed both, especially Morgan’s transition to Fear. I think it will be exciting to see where it takes both shows in the future.

I realize either some who read this may have chosen not to express an opinion because it was like mine, unpopular, but I’m pretty sure I’m solidly in the minority. So FTR, Epic or Epic Fail, I’ll keep watching.

In fact, I absolutely love this show as I’ve loved others like Breaking Bad and Outlander. It’s the human element, the ethical dilemmas that speak to me, how we act when the stakes are high and we have hard choices to make.

If my hubby and I could manage to stick together in a similar apocalypse scenario, I think we’d have a good chance to make it, for a while at least. How about you, would you be one of the first Walkers or, like Rick and Morgan, make it from the beginning to the Season 8 Finale?

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Karen Kennedy Rutledge