The go Dead is ago and careening toward the conclusion the the “All out War” saga. That means the end of the feud between Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and also his archnemesis Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) — and also perhaps it is a an excellent thing. Overall, the show’s large bet on Negan has actually been a little bit of a misfire, with ratings hitting staggering lows critical year, and Negan self largely lacking from the first half of the show’s eighth season.

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But a season-ending orgasm is an chance to bring all the object together. Okay be examining the season’s final episode through its presentation of Negan: exactly how he acts, how he delivers his jokes and also threats, and most importantly, just how his character develops in comparison to ours supposedly building heroes. Fine look at every the traits a rogue is supposed to excel in ~ — consisting of those us detest — and boil that down into one single score on what we space calling the Negan-o-meter™. A score that 10 way he’s the best, most complex villain we’ve ever seen; a score the 0 method he’s pretty lot the very same ol’ Negan he’s always been. Hopefully, in these final episodes, The walking Dead can turn Negan into the large bad audience have constantly wanted.

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

At long last, The wade Dead has actually arrived in ~ the conclusion of the Negan saga. Over the past few weeks, the show has displayed a level that unpredictability the would have seemed impossible back at the season 7 premiere. That’s once Glenn was killed off and also the show started feeling bound by that comic book source material. Now, nearly two seasons later, the cheap character deaths and gimmicky cliffhangers have all but disappeared as more momentous world-building, narrative closure, and character explorations have taken center stage. Perhaps not surprisingly, the show’s ratings have responded accordingly.

But critical night’s season finale, “Wrath,” falls short to construct on that an innovative momentum. The illustration may at some point be a satisfying episode of television, but aside from a couple of minor curveballs it plays points safe, and it takes almost every one of its cues native writer Robert Kirkman’s comics storyline. In that sense, the TV show’s variation of the Negan saga ends the same means that that began: resigning chin to mediocrity by focusing on telling someone else’s story.

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picture by Gene page / AMC

Setting the phase for battle

Following critical week’s last-minute surprise, in which Dwight’s turncoat tactics concerned light and also Negan plotted an ambush versus Rick, the seemed choose TV viewers can get a radically various conclusion come the “All the War” storyline than the one that the comic book delivered. However “Wrath” throw the entire Dwight subplot overboard in the first 15 minute of the episode, wasting the enormous emotional investment the present has motivated viewers to make in his character.

While Rick and the rather felt they to be going to have the ability to get the autumn on Negan, they quickly find that they to be being collection up once they take the end a group of Saviors the just happen to be delivering a map of Negan’s actual location. Thinking they’ve kept the advantage, they arm themselves and head out to take it him down. However first, the display takes a breath through an emotional moment Rick finally asks Siddiq to tell him exactly how Carl had end up being infected.

Meanwhile, the show cuts ago to the Saviors, wherein a conversation between Negan and Gabriel reveals that map Rick has actually just uncovered is also a fake, a back-up decoy just in case the original arrangement to usage Dwight to spread out disinformation didn’t take. It completely sidelines Dwight for what feels choose a totally unnecessary (and convoluted) reason, right when the display had the chance to perform something unique and also original. Instead, it pivots right ago to the comics.

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image by Gene web page / AMC

Eugene’s redemption

Rick, Maggie, Daryl, and nearly every various other high-level personality on the show walk right into a huge field, thinking they’re around to rotate the tables top top the Saviors when they unexpectedly hear Negan’s voice ~ above a loudspeaker. Many thanks to Eugene’s bullet-making operation, the Saviors are all set to wipe every solitary one of lock out. Negan stop Gabriel hostage and also announces his intentions, echoing the minute when Negan an initial introduced himself and bludgeoned Glenn come death.

But this time, points go a little bit differently. As the Saviors open fire, every solitary one of their weapons backfires, blowing turn off hands or otherwise severely injuring every solitary member the Negan’s army. It becomes clear the boobytrapped bullets room to blame, and also in one fell swoop, Eugene has actually apparently concerned everyone’s rescue. Rick and the others seize the possibility to charge. Gabriel and also Dwight, both of whom to be dead males walking simply a few moments prior, try to take it Negan under themselves, however he escapes through Lucille, stack close behind.

After every the ago and forth, the revolve of occasions feels means too simple — specifically with the Saviors injured, but not killed, from to the stunt, letting Eugene claim the ethical high ground. I suppose it’s nice the his duty pays turn off in a big way, unlike what occurred to Dwight. Yet Eugene has come to be so unlikable over the food of the story that it came to be an irritant every single time he appeared on-screen. It comes off as punishing the audience, every in service of a cheap trick.

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image by Gene web page / AMC

Rick’s key choice

The last showdown between Rick and Negan kicks turn off in a ar we’ve checked out before: the tree v strange glass kinds hanging from its branches, that first appeared in a mysterious flash-forward in the season 8 premiere. Rick it s okay a shooting off, smashing a feet in the glass however just misses Negan’s head. Then, in spite of having a functioning firearm, stack waltzes right right into hand-to-hand combat with Negan — and is nearly immediately disarmed as Negan pushes him to the ground.

It’s below that stack evokes the native of Carl to try and reason with his nemesis. Stack asks for 10 seconds prior to receiving a deadly swing that Lucille to the head, and also he provides that valuable time come psychologically hammer Negan whereby he knows it hurts. He explains that Carl want to discover a peaceful way forward and that things don’t need to finish in violence. Negan nearly looks convinced, tears welling up in his eyes. Yet Rick, it transforms out, has the upper hand — psychologically and physically. The slashes Negan’s throat v a piece of shattered glass indigenous the ground.