Last Sunday The Walking Dead capped its 6th season in controversial fashion. After months of hype over the arrival of infamous big bad Negan (played chillingly by Jeffery Dean Morgan), the show portrayed a scene from the comics with one glaring difference. After a whole episode/ season of build up, Negan had Rick and company captured, and after the worst round of eeny meeny miny moe ever, he brutally beat one of them to death. As you probably already know, we didn’t get to see who.
Thus, a cliffhanger rivaled only by The Simpsons’ parody cliffhanger Who Shot Mr. Burns?
Understandably, fans were upset. Probably not aiding things was the immediate Talking Dead after show where during the weekly “In Memoriam” of characters and zombies, the mysterious death’s epitaph read #WhoWasIt- a truly tasteful way to talk about someone getting brutally maimed to death. The hashtag has been used both for elaborate fan speculation and mocking.
— Aneesa (@world_of_aneesa) April 4, 2016
AMC held a conference with Gimple and members of the media the morning after the finale aired, Variety reports. Gimple addressed questions and reactions to the finale and the season as a whole. “The reasoning behind this was in many ways what we saw last night was the end of the story of season 6. Where Rick winds up is completely different from where he started in [episode] 1 [the season premiere] and where he started in [episode] 9 [the mid- season premiere]. Presenting what occurs, to show what happened in full force, is the beginning of the next story.”
Gimple also said that he anticipated criticism, especially with a large, vocal, social- media savvy audience, but hopes that they will stick around for the 7th season premiere and sees how the story justifies itself. “I’d love a little more trust. But I think it’s a good thing for society that people aren’t just trusting the things that are coming across their television set… I do want to do right by this audience. I hope to win back or assuage some of the anger.”
The backlash resembles a similar incident earlier this season when Glenn (Steven Yeun) appeared to die in what looked like a horrific feeding to a hoard of zombies (really he crawled and hid under a dumpster, the zombie’s natural enemy). The Walking Dead team even went as far as to remove Yeun’s name from the credits, a move that Gimple also defended in the conference.
This drew comparisons to the frustratingly ambiguous death of Game of Thrones character Jon Snow in their season finale. On this point, Gimple could at least take solace that there were some people who understood his predicament. “I would love to sit down with those guys. I would buy them many beers. We could commiserate.”