The Walking Dead: Last Day on Earth Review

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By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

The Walking Dead is adapted from previous source material. This review is not meant to compare similarities and differences between the show and comic. It’s meant to be read purely as a take on the episode as it stands.

That being said, SPOILERS AHEAD.

“Do you want to make today your last day on Earth?”

Morgan is still looking for Carol and stumbles upon a horse in the process. There’s some symbolic irony in watching Morgan trot into an abandoned town on said horse to find Carol, cowering in a doorway. When The Walking Dead first started, Rick was fond of his mount—that is, until it served as a buffet for Walkers. Morgan is a bit more fortunate with his and he gets to experience firsthand how Carol has lost her previously steely resolve.

The one Savior Carol didn’t manage to kill is still hunting her, if for nothing else than to exact his revenge. The hunter is a dead man walking and knows it, which makes his whole personal revenge quest seem somewhat superfluous. He’s a soldier who’s thrown his lot in with the Saviors, a group which prides itself its approach to the world. Yet faced with a situation where he could potentially take Carol back as a hostage, he instead decides to toy with her. That little game bought enough time for Morgan to save Carol and put them in the hands of a couple of new survivors in tactical armor and presumably with some generosity in their hearts.

Rick, Abraham, Sasha, Eugene, Carl, and Aaron are en route to the Hilltop with a reeling Maggie, her pregnancy no doubt suffering from the ill-effects of stress (or a general lack of medical luck that Carl seems to have). They all cleared out in an RV to get Maggie care for what can presumably be a miscarriage, leaving Alexandria fairly light on the defensive front. It’s a little strange to see Rick trust Gabriel with the command of its defenses, but Gabriel has shown he’s put the whole “religion” thing behind him at this point. And Carl and Enid are having a lover’s quarrel?

The two of them have been very loosely intertwined here and there throughout the last two seasons and it’s finally coming to a head here—albeit weakly. And Carl’s recovery is nothing short of a miracle. It’s likely that had he suffered a similar fate in the pre-apocalyptic world, even with all the modern advancements in medical care, he’d still be facing an extremely arduous rehabilitation process. In a world with medicine severely lacking though, he’s up and about as if nothing ever happened, let alone being shot through the head with a bullet.

The road trip met a little snag in the way of a Savior roadblock that ended in a slightly unexpected way. For some reason, Rick decided not to go in guns blazing to continue on his path. Instead, he exchanged pleasantries with the leader present laced with subtle jabs at one another. Rick decided to turn around and find another path in a decision that seems completely strange for him. Rick has proven he’s more than willing to take violence to the enemy wherever necessary, but for whatever reason here, he decided to not antagonize them. Of course, Rick didn’t depart without offering some of his patent words of instigation.

The Saviors have proven to be well-organized so Rick (or Eugene) would have to know they probably have the same maps of the area. That would also imply that the Saviors are inclined to block the likeliest routes to the Hilltop, putting Rick’s group at a disadvantage. After the second encounter, Rick probably should’ve just come up with a new strategy for getting Maggie to the Hilltop (or just head back to Alexandria to regroup). The third blockade was Walkers chained together and the fourth blockade was a small army of Saviors. The Walkers did have some nice psychological touches to them in the form of Michonne’s dreadlock and Daryl’s arrows.

The Saviors assault their opponents both physically and mentally. It’s characteristics like those that have loosely been on display here and there throughout the season, but seeing them all come together in one episode was pretty interesting. It characterizes the Saviors as ruthless compared to Rick in a way that’s sadistic more than anything else. Rick’s leadership has made his group brutal for the sake of survival, whereas Negan’s leadership has the Saviors ruling by fear. For Rick not to expect the Saviors to be playing them was extremely shortsighted by a man known for surviving.

And Rick’s hubris seemed to get the better of him. To this point, Rick has largely escaped on sheer gumption, but now he had to pay the piper in the form of one of his crew’s life. It’s possible that a return to Alexandria was out of the question, but at no point did Rick ever entertain the notion of going back to regroup. It’s obvious that Maggie’s health weighed heavily on Rick, but his selfish actions are the exact same things that Rick and the group chided the Alexandrians for. The Saviors played Rick and moved him exactly where they wanted him without Rick thinking twice that he could be walking into a trap.

Negan was given the full, Big Bad introduction in “Last Day on Earth.” His introduction was a punctuation to the day’s events, with him presenting the new “proposal” to Rick as to how the new way to operate works. Basically, it boils down to Negan requiring that Rick and his group give half of all their supplies to the Saviors, much like the Hilltop. Negan cut an extremely menacing figure alongside his barbed wired bat, Lucille, and his propensity for beating someone’s face in. And of course the unlucky survivor was kept anonymous as the viewer was only given a first-person perspective of the bludgeoning.

The ending to “Last Day on Earth” was surely meant to be climatic, but it just felt uneven and flimsy. Daryl, Michonne, and Glen were given practically no screen time at all; instead, they were trotted out at the end for more possible targets for Lucille. Rick made some strange decisions that put just about all of his crew at risk (even going back to last week’s episode when he took all his heavy-hitters out to find Carol). Negan himself was even a little underwhelming in some regards, as he’s basically the Governor without all the build-up.

Fans will definitely be wondering who met their fate at the end of the episode, but it likely would’ve been a much more potent ending had they at least narrowed it down to one or two candidates. Sure, everyone will tune it for next season’s premiere, but once the sheen has worn off that cliffhanger, will they stick around? And the episode was 90 minutes long just to have Rick and his group on an extended road trip where Negan shows up and someone dies at the end? The entire episode just felt clumsy and inconsistent, finishing out the sixth season on a relatively weak note.

Two Stars


    2 Comments

  1. Karen FraleyApril 4th, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    Here’s my question…after killing a bunch of bad guys it would be normal to fall back and prepare for a retaliatory attack. Why would the Saviors think and how would the Saviors know Rick’s group would even be going to Hilltop or anywhere for that matter? Those roadblocks would take a lot of time to prepare and couldn’t be done in the spur of the moment. Curious, yes?

  2. anjanetteApril 16th, 2016 at 9:36 am

    You and Karen make interesting points I didn’t consider while watching. That first group of Savior’s was relatively small considering the massive group at the end. It’s probable that they could have been taken. And really how do you plan on your enemy needing to make a medical run? Thanks for the points to ponder.

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