Meta-middle finger or dramaturgical artifice?

Are they allowed to? - Thoughts on the season finale of "The Walking Dead" (CAUTION SPOILER THROUGHOUT!)

Is it actually a spoiler to reveal that nothing happens at the end of this year's season finale of "The Walking Dead" just yet? The creators around showrunner Scott Gimple have simply saved the decision about life and death of a core member of the survivors? Or is that too meta again? And anyway, are they allowed to do that? A complete season long (but at least its second half) expectations stir up, which are related to the announced appearance of the "Big Bad Wolf" Negan (pretty great: Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and then just deliberately undermine them - on the contrary, the audience craving for a main character death show the middle finger?

Probably one has the bow with the cliffhanger of the sixth season actually more than just a little overstretched - especially by including the audience in the perfidious game directly. After all, connoisseurs of the comic book have been waiting since the beginning of the season for the brutal end of Glenn, which author Robert Kirkman has meanwhile virtually ruled out for the series - but after the near-death at the midseason finale, it would be dramaturgically stupid - but you never know. So if not Glenn, then at least another painful farewell! Bread and games! An end with horror! And "The last day on earth" wants little else than exactly this farewell also to celebrate.

That's why one puts Rick and Co. for the purpose of saving pregnant women in the van and lets them meet in each case almost identical sequence on one roadblock after the next. Already here a permanently repeated dramaturgical coitus interruptus in the clash with the Saviors suggests itself - the waiting for Negan becomes the waiting for Godot, which should probably show us to some extent also our own expectations and powerlessness before eyes. Increasingly helpless in the face of the omnipresent Saviors, not only Rick seems to react, but also the viewer is increasingly helpless in the face of the intrigues of the authors, who after a good 45 minutes have - or seem to have - come to their senses. Enter Negan - and indeed he (minus the F-words) is everything you expected him to be. Until the large Auszählerei starts - Eenie, Meenie, Miny, Moe - and first Glenn is sent back into the row (Negan with view of the spectator: That would be too simple!) and baseball bat Lucille may go down finally nevertheless.

On the bewildered spectator, who sees himself suddenly in the first-person perspective with his approaching end confronted - without knowing admittedly, with whose eyes he becomes a witness of the own death. In later years, one will perhaps learn to appreciate this deliberate subversion of expectations, this - indeed, direct attack - on one's own fan base as a dramaturgically interesting volte-face. In the immediate result it is nothing less than an affront. Don't misunderstand: Had it been a classic cliffhanger, we would have cursed and buried ourselves in various fan theories for two weeks afterwards. By mirroring the entire structure of their last episode into the meta-level, by making the (futile) wait for the spectacular death of the series the only dramaturgical raison d'être of the finale, Gimple & Co place themselves above their fans with an almost raised index (or middle) finger: Now look where your sensationalism has brought you! Instead of with the cane on the fingers gives it with the baseball bat on the head. 

Thereby the Macher gave themselves into the role of those, which conjured up again and again the large bad wolf, without letting it actually appear. Now he is there - and yet again not. We know how the fable ended. And we sincerely hope that "The Walking Dead - Season 7" has some good answers and even better developments up its sleeve. Because from October 2016, redemption is announced.

Christopher Büchele