I’ve been reading some of the reactions from Walking Dead fans regarding the last episode. Many of you are angry, angry as hell. Why? Because you felt the producers of Walking Dead somehow betrayed you or toyed with you by not letting you know who died in the last episode this season.
If you are angry, good. I think you are just where the producers and writers of the show want you to be. What??? you say.
Let’s take a look at, what if they DID tell you who died. You’d still be angry, right? None of us want to see any of the main characters we’ve come to love die. When we thought Glenn had died in a previous episode, we felt anguish. We hoped and prayed that he made it through somehow. Once we discovered he had survived after all, we felt relief, just like Rick’s group felt relief. But before that we felt fear, just as Rick’s group did.
We’ve lived through these experiences with the characters – the not knowing, the anguish, the fear, the relief. We’ve watched them falter and succeed. We grew with them. In doing so, we built a bond. We feel close to them. We became a part of Rick’s group.
Now back to the final episode of the season. As the group loses more and more control of their own circumstances, our fears grow, yet we keep the slightest amount of hope, just like they did. When Negan takes his bat to one of the members, we are put into that person’s point of view (POV), so we can’t tell who it is. This is where most people feel betrayed, by the not knowing. If you did know, you’d feel excruciating anguish and anger at the loss of one of the main characters. You’d still be angry. Even if you knew, you’d still be angry. So why didn’t they tell you?
As the saying goes, “Time heals all wounds.” By the time the new season starts in October, we would have had time to digest the loss (about 6 months). So when we jump back into the story with the group in shock of realizing who just died, we’d be in a different place than them, having already digested who had died and the implications of that. Not knowing until the new season starts ensures we will be in the same place as the characters, feeling the same anguish, the same anger, the same loss, the same shock.
But you still feel like you’ve been toyed with? I hope so. I think the producers and writers made that intentional. Think about it. Rick’s group is being toyed with by Negan. They are absolutely helpless and terrified. You’ve been walking with Rick’s group their entire journey, feeling what they feel. Why should now be any different?
The final scene puts us in the POV of the character that receives the fatal blows. You hear Rick’s group screaming, pleading, and grieving, reacting in shock over “your” brutal death. Your bond to them is closer than ever before.
If you are still angry at the producers and writers of the show, I doubt any one of you will miss the first episode of the new season. You’ll be in there, right along side the rest of the group, emotionally tugged into the most uncomfortable places you never want to go. It is through these unwanted experiences we learn from others the possibilities of the human spirit. The writers and producers are taking us on that journey, to discover within ourselves, the darkest and brightest moments of humanity. It is these moments that make us feel alive, make us want to fight for something, make us want to right a wrong, make us want to live.
Go ahead, be angry. You’re supposed to be.