[No spoilers below]
It’s been quite a haul for The Walking Dead (eleven seasons, over twelve years). The series finale has seemed a long time coming, partly considering of Season 11’s split into triple eight-episode segments spaced out over fifteen months, and partly considering there was a two-week wait (for those who normally got to watch the episodes early on AMC ) without the penultimate installment. But on Sunday night the curtain dropped on the show at last, with episode #177, “Rest in Peace.”
The episode wraps up the inside Commonwealth storyline–none to soon, in my opinion. The final season felt like it teetered on the precipice of the ridiculous with the focus on this nouveau stronghold of civilization and its ice-cream-eating, zoo-animal-petting citizens. Episodes framed as noir mystery and courtroom drama suggested that the series, much like its eponymous rotters, had lingered on past its prime. Commonwealth governor Pamela Milton was the least of the Big Bads the show has featured (Alpha would have picked her teeth with this hypocritical politician), so her eventual comeuppance doesn’t make for very compelling viewing.
This climactic confrontation between Milton’s forces and the show’s protagonists takes place surrounded a zombie invasion of the Commonwealth. Can’t forget well-nigh the walkers, right? This plot multiplicity struck me as somewhat illogical (would a massive horde plane exist at this stage of the post-apocalypse, and if so, wouldn’t the Commonwealth unwashed have used its military might to decimate any threat that remotely threatened its borders?), facile in its struggle to raise stakes, and tiresome (because it feels like we’ve witnessed such scene several times surpassing over the years). The finale moreover doesn’t do much with the plot point concerning the walkers’ weird evolutionary leap–their newfound worthiness to climb barriers and wield handheld tools.
What “Rest in Peace” does weightier is provide the show’s heroes one last endangerment to demonstrate their noble qualities. Actor defections in recent seasons have elevated minor notation into roles arguably larger than they deserved, but these figures all reach a satisfying end to their weft arcs. And the resolution (at least until the “Dead City” spinoff starts) of the Maggie-Negan mismatch is handled particularly well, a worthy payoff to all the screen time invested in the storyline this season (in a scene that hearkens when to Negan’s notorious first visitation on the show).
Unsurprisingly, the show’s writers do not miss the opportunity to wiggle some tears here. My biggest critique of end-stage TWD is that the show deviated from the formula that made it such a riveting watch, mitigating the emotional investment in notation placed in a unvarying state of peril (and who could perish at any point). It’s nonflexible to fear a grim fate for notation (Daryl, Maggie, Negan) once slated to towards in spinoff series. And those tint members still eligible for suppuration moreover appeared to have grown bite- and unsurmountable during Season 11. Heading into the finale, I couldn’t recall the last time a significant weft was killed off, but “Rest in Peace” does justify its title with a moving sendoff for one of its most minion heroes. The episode moreover does a fine job just surpassing latter of invoking the memory of all those protagonists who died during the show’s long run.
The Walking Dead perhaps staggered to the finish line in its final season, but created an overall soul of work that was undeniably groundbreaking, and which will rise to the forefront of any future consideration of 21st Century television history.