Phrases like “it’s so bad it’s good” and “jumping the shark” are inadequate to describe the exquisite stupidity of last night’s finale to The Walking Dead. Even beginning with that sentence in some way has already faded the possibility of adequately conveying the pinnacle of stupidity the show reached with one moment in particular. It truly reached spiritual heights, like viewing the face of a stupid God. Glimpsing this scene is something like Lot’s wife looking back on God smiting Sodom and turning into a pillar of salt. That’s something like the feeling I had watching this. It went beyond laughter, tears, hatred, and despair to some indescribable nirvana of mediocrity. Describing the components—bad special effects, bad blocking and choreography, cheesy acting, writing that unambiguously announces a complete lack of respect and creative powers from the writing staff, even taking all these parts, the whole of the end product somehow exceeds the mathematically possible proportions of stupidity. I felt awe.
Spoilers after screenshot
I suppose there’s no more concrete example of a show “jumping the shark” in modern television than Shiva the tiger interrupting Negan’s (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) execution of Carl (Chandler Riggs). The phrase comes from an episode of Happy Days when Fonzie jumped over a shark on water skis, a crystallised signal that the show had drifted far from its concept and was engaging in nonsensical sensationalism to maintain its viewership. The fact that the moment in The Walking Dead also features a big predator from the animal kingdom makes the comparison even more apt. But, like I said, it doesn’t feel like enough to describe the level of stupidity. Although the ratings went down this season, the show is still nowhere near the point where desperate measures should be taken and, even if they were, writers and producers should be too savvy by now to actually deploy a stunt like that.
Let’s go over the levels of stupidity operating in the scene. One; there’s the premise where Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Carl and Negan are even still alive at this point, even though the three of them were in exposed positions with machine guns going off all over the place. Two; the fact that Negan felt comfortable strutting around and taking his time with the execution, the fact that a tiger and the people from the Kingdom approached unnoticed conveying the lack of necessary security for the moment to take place. Three; the usual cheesy, over the top posturing from Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Andrew Lincoln. Four; the fact that the tiger never gets shot. Five; the fact that no-one seems to fear the possibility of the tiger attacking any friendly targets. Six; the fact that the tiger appears an instant before Negan bashed Carl’s head in.
This last point presents the only intriguing possibility that could salvage everything. Rick’s assertion moments before that he’s going to kill Negan sounds so delusional in the circumstances that everything that happens, beginning with the moment of the tiger’s attack, is Rick’s elaborate hallucination as the horror finally causes his mind to completely retreat from the reality he can’t handle, like the end of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil.
It is somewhat appropriate given that I felt Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s performance was based on Tony the Tiger. He even has the same red scarf.
I will say Sasha’s (Sonequa Martin-Green) death was pretty badass. I liked that she was the only walker in the episode, it helped emphasise the shock of the reveal. Nevertheless, the moment couldn’t edge out from under the shadow of the climax but it was a nice way of promoting Star Trek Discovery.