The ending marked the conclusion of the Whisperers’ plot, which played against one of the massive action sequences the show could play, leading to some particularly horrific moments, as the main characters had to navigate their way through a horde of zombies.
This included the death of Peta (Ryan Hirst), the huge Whisperers leader, after a fight with Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Daryl (Norman Reedus), in which he offered a healing reward. In a previous episode, Negan infiltrated the group and used this access to kill their leader Alpha (Samantha Morton), setting the stage for the grudge match.
With AMC announcing that the series would end after two additional seasons, there should have been a greater sense of purpose and momentum surrounding the franchise, which was feeling the creative apathy. Ratings also decreased for what was once the highest-rated show on television.
For now, the main series – which is officially celebrating its 10th anniversary on Halloween – is currently scheduled to return early next year, after production delays, along with most script shows, due to Covid-19 concerns. In total, AMC has ordered 30 more episodes (average season 16 split run) that will run through 2022.
So, even with the finish line now showing, it’s really just the beginning of the end, with a lot of running – or rather, pausing – to do.