The Walking Dead Episode 10x16 Review: A Familiar Yet Satisfying Finale

The Walking Dead, like many movies and television series, went into uncharted territories in 2020 when regularly scheduled programming was disrupted. Furthermore, the show has been mapping its own course lately, plowing through a successful tenth year on television, the first yearly run of new episodes without its original lead actor. Despite many changes and obstacles facing AMC's zombie series, Angela Kang and company managed to steer the ship safely to shore with a Season 10 finale (although, there will be more episodes added later) which feels awfully familiar for long time fans of the franchise but offers a conclusive and satisfying close to the Whisperer chapter.

Ahead of watching The Walking Dead Episode 10x16 (A Certain Doom), it would be beneficial to rewatch the previous few episodes from March of this year. The series had a great momentum which is lost by the delay and story threads being freshly in mind enhance the experience in the way which the creatives intended. Negan is still on his redemptive arc. Lydia doesn't know where she belongs. Carol and Daryl have their commitments to each other, whatever shape you want to see them as. Some characters are missing. Some are returning. And the last of the Whisperers, lead by Beta, are at the front door ready to huff and puff.

The Whisperer story is one of the more exciting chapters of The Walking Dead in recent years. It has been a well-paced endeavor, taking up less than two seasons of the series, introducing mysterious and threatening ideals and characters. When the show killed off Alpha a few episodes back, the commitment to wrapping up the story was clear and the stage was set for a blow out between Alpha's second-in-command Beta and the survivors who orchestrated Alpha's demise. A conclusion to this major thread comes in Episode 10x16 but it's a bit less satisfying due to its brevity. For the sake of avoiding spoilers we won't explain why here.

Executive producer Greg Nicotero is tapped to direct the finale, something which has all but become tradition within the series. He certainly had his fun with this episode, letting his inner horror buff shine through. The VFX genius went ahead and tossed in some horror legend homage, nods to titles like The Shining which are fun to pick up on, but also put in what looks like an extra effort for some of the walker make up, as well. More than 120 episodes of this show and Nicotero's team still finds ways to make zombies that are horrifying and impressively crafted.

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(Photo: Jackson Lee Davis / AMC)

The finale episode thrives through its characters, especially in their lighter and more positive moments. Carol's emotional struggles in the wake of losing Henry to Alpha continue to shine with a heavy weight as Melissa McBride continues to prove that Emmy Award votersm ust just be blocking this show from their viewing options. Negan's arc proves to be the most interesting story of the season in a season full of well-executed threads. Jeffrey Dean Morgan brings an extra bit of honest vulnerability to the character in sequences with Cassady McClincy's Lydia while also letting the bad-ass loud mouth shine through when a scene calls for it. Of course, Daryl continues to get big moments for his character to shine, some through emotional connections and others through well choreographed albeit brief action beats as Norman Reedus seems to be finding further levels of confidence in the part, one which he has owned for a decade, now.

The finale does not offer too much on the front of innovation outside of Nicotero's directorial choices. The Whisperer story seems to be getting an epilogue in this original final hour of Season 10 and some ancillary characters are going to pay for that. Much of the finale feels familiar to other big episodes which leave a big impact on the series but Episode 10x16 feels different in that regard. There is no effort to shout at fans with a statement of requiring them to come back next year. The finale seems to finally embrace that viewers are here for the characters they care about and committed to seeing them through to their end (either when the character dies or the show ends in Season 11).

Of course, it is refreshing and exciting to see Lauren Cohan back in action as Maggie Rhee. Very little is explained about where the character has been or how she showed up with such excellent timing but Cohan didn't miss a beat in returning the character. She's a shot of life to the series which continues walking upright to its final destination, one which comes with one of the more interesting and open-ended threads following the very conclusive finale.

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(Photo: Jackson Lee Davis / AMC)

The Walking Dead fans are no strangers to cliffhangers. Episode 10x16 offers an exciting final moment which will not trigger any angry flashbacks to the now infamous mystery death (which, for the record, I thought was very clever and loved the constant conversation between Season 6 and 7) but instead will ignite a desire to see the expanding universe and how the powers that be will wrap up the franchise as a whole.

All in all, Season 10 is a tremendous achievement for The Walking Dead. The story, including the finale, shows the epic sprawling scale of the series and proves a character-focus is the key to is success. The zombies, action, and death are a necessary supplement to keep the show's blood flowing and they're all delivered for those craving more guts. It's a bloody, familiar, satisfying, and conclusive finale as the definitive ending for the series is finally nearing.

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The Walking Dead Episode 10x16 airs Sunday October 4 at 9pm ET on AMC.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars