Warning: Spoilers for the Season 6 finale of The Walking Dead below!!
When Sunday night’s Season 6 finale of The Walking Dead ended on a bloody cliffhanger, fans were left furious (and I’m putting this extremely mildly) that the fates of our zombie apocalypse survivors were left hanging at the end of a barbed-wired bat.
The comic book's most iconic villain, Negan, had just been introduced on the AMC series in the form of the ever-charming Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchmen), who wrapped up the episode with a deadly game of eeny, meeny, miny, moe before bashing in the head of his anonymous victim -- from the point of view of said anonymous victim, no less -- with his barbed-wired bat Lucille. Cue end credits. Enter fan rage.
So why did they end the show on such a massive cliffhanger? Walking Dead director and producer Greg Nicotero told The Hollywood Reporter that he, Robert Kirkman and Scott Gimple thought it was the best way to wrap up the story, and he explained why.
“Honestly, and this is going to sound ridiculous, but I thought it would have been a little cheap to kill a major character in the last few minutes of the show. [Exec producers] Robert Kirkman, Scott Gimple and I have been talking about this and it really is the end of this story. If you look at season six with an overall view, breaking Rick and everyone down — you have our entire group on their knees in front of Negan. The cavalry is not coming over the hill this time; Carol is not going to blow up gas tanks at Terminus; no one is coming to save them and it's the first time we've seen our group like this. I think it's the perfect ending for the season.”
Now here’s the kicker, you guys. Nicotero says that they haven’t even filmed the death scene yet -- as many fans have already surmised.
“We have not filmed it yet and I don't know if the person knows yet or not. Knowing the fact that any death changes our characters and changes our people in a very dramatic way, what's exciting about season seven is how a death — any death — changes people and propels us into a different direction. While we were shooting this episode, I'd never seen the cast more energized and more excited about the future of the show. The fact that the world is our oyster right now is exciting time for The Walking Dead. We're changing the direction of the show and bringing Negan in, it's a great time. Everyone is so excited to get back to work [in May] to get where we're going.”
When Nicotero was asked if Negan’s victim will return at all for Season 7 (filming his or her death scene), or if it’s the last the viewers have seen of them, he simply replied, “I don't know.”
But in a separate interview with Variety, Jeffrey Dean Morgan said that the Season 7 premiere will show -- in graphic detail -- who got killed at the end of that bat.
“That would be the hope, yeah, that’s the impression I have — we will pick up directly from what we saw last night that ends Season 6, on that note, and Season 7 is gonna pick up right where we left off. So yeah, you’re gonna see who’s at the end of that bat and what happens from there.”
Morgan then added that he didn't even know the show would end on a cliffhanger.
“I didn’t know it was going to be a cliffhanger until I watched the show – that was how it was done in my world. I don’t know if any of the cast knew how exactly it was going to end, which caused a lot of the uncertainty and emotion to be going on. That being said, in talking to Scott and Robert last night, I think their explanation [was] that that was the end of the story for that season, and that is that Rick has lost control, and there’s Negan, and Negan has all the control and I think that’s where they wanted to end the story — and it’s not about the death of that person … the death of the person is gonna kick off 7, and Season 7 will be a big part of who is on the receiving end of Lucille. I understand the fans’ frustration, I get that. That being said… I have to trust these writers and showrunners, they know what they’re doing. It’s been a show that a lot of people watch for six seasons and I believe they’ll be back to see who met Lucille and as the story continues to grow.”
Do you agree with Greg Nicotero and the Walking Dead powers-that-be that ending Season 6 on a cliffhanger was the best ending possible for the season? Will you be tuning in for the Season 7 premiere, or are you done with the show?
And who do you think, among Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Michonne (Danai Gurira), Carl (Chandler Riggs), Daryl (Norman Reedus), Glenn (Steven Yeun), Rosita (Christian Serratos), Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Aaron (Ross Marquand), Eugene (Josh McDermitt), Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), got “Lucilled” in the Season 6 finale?