As the final season of The Walking Dead kicks off I suddenly remembered that I never got round to watching the six “bonus” episodes of the previous season, mostly due to cancelling my regular TV subscription before they aired but thanks to Disney + having the entire Walking Dead uploaded I was able to catch up! … Man, with the exception of one, these were not worth it. Oh well, let’s take a look anyway!
After rejoining the group Maggie learns that not only is Negan free to walk but Hilltop has been burned and her son has gone missing. Other than that, she’s having a great day…
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
It’s Negan! … as a regular guy?! As if he wasn’t already the only character left I care about they go and give him a great backstory…
Without a doubt the standout episode is 22, “Here’s Negan”, which sees the former antagonist reflect on his own past and we see that he was a disgraced ex-P.E. teacher living with his wife Lucille but cheating on her with her best friend until Lucille is diagnosed with cancer. From then on and during the beginning of the apocalypse he stays dedicated to her as a sort of atonement, including continuing her cancer treatment. Sadly the medicine was lost when the power cut out so Negan heads off into the brutal new world to find some, despite Lucille’s pleading him stay with her. He finds a medical van and after being struck on the head with a certain baseball bat he is given the needed medicine (and the bat) and leaves… straight into the path of a very nasty biker gang. He’s tortured for a while and gives up the location of the medical supplies before arriving back home, only to find Lucille had killed herself and turned. Negan puts on the leather jacket he brought much to her distress pre-apocalypse and wraps barbed wire around the bat and kills all the bikers, despite earlier being afraid to kill even the undead. It was a great bit of backstory for pretty much the only character I still find interesting in the series. In the present he finds Lucille the bat and breaks it on a zombie’s head, so decides to burn it, apologising to the actual Lucille and deciding to head back to Alexandria despite Maggie not wanting him anywhere near the son he made sure never met his father… which is fair enough, really.
Gabriel and Aaron are told they have a whole episode to themselves.
I’ll also mention Episode 19, “One More”, which although it had almost zero impact on… anything, it was at least a well written story. Aaron and Gabriel are off looking for supplies (yes, again, despite being this far into the apocalypse there are apparently shops and stores left untouched…) and end up encountering a loner who had gone crazy, forced them to play Russian Roulette and after killing him they find his brother tied up, nearly starved to death, with the rotting corpses of his family in front of him. So, this loner wasn’t a nice man, basically. It had a well-rounded plot and Aaron and Gabriel made a good funny duo to start with and a good bit of drama towards the end. Again, completely pointless, but at least it was entertaining…
Daryl realises that maybe he likes having Carol around, then realises he’s realised this before… many times.
Episodes 18 and 21 focus on Daryl and Carol’s relationship breaking down AGAIN, which includes the same arguments and “they both act all lonely apart” scenes before they meet up again in Alexandria and don’t quite speak up about it… AGAIN. Man, this is reaching Ross and Rachel in Friends level of overused relationship plot. Episode 18 had a flashback of Daryl meeting someone during the years he lived alone searching for Rick’s body which was… alright, I guess. But generally, been there done that a million times, and Episode 21 having long scenes of Carol cooking didn’t help time feeling stretched any…
Finally Episode 17 focused on Maggie and a few of her survivors returning to Alexandria and settling in, or not given Hilltop was where they were going but you know, it’s been destroyed. Her son also went missing during the travel down but he’s eventually found safe. It was fine I guess, but not all that memorable. Episode 20 shows us Eugene, Yumiko, Ezekiel and Princess captured by the Storm Troopers that appeared at the end of the last chunk of episodes, but it focuses entirely on Princess and her traumatic experiences with being captured, leading to her attacking one of the guards in a hallucination-filled fit. By the end they’re all about to be carted off to the people in charge of this settlement, so basically it told us nothing new at all. Presumably in the next season we see them introduced to the people in charge so they added this “extra” episode in but couldn’t actually move the plot forward, so it ended up kind of… pointless, again.
Basically all of these episodes are written after Season 11 had already been planned out so they couldn’t move the plot on in any meaningful way so we got six episodes that accomplished nothing….
Princess hides from the Storm Troopers. (Yes I know I made that joke in the review as well, but I like it!)
While the Negan episode was great the other five were a waste of time, clearly added after the final season had been planned so ended up just running around in circles, afraid to move the plot in case it clashes with the planned finale. Basically they should’ve just done the Negan flashback episode as a one-off special and left the rest…
Episode 22 “Here’s Negan”:
Episodes 17 – 21: