TV Review: The Walking Dead 10x16, “A Certain Doom”

Aaron Neuwirth reviews The Walking Dead Season 10 finale, "A Certain Doom" in which our heroes take a last stand against Beta and the Whisperers.

Well, that took longer than expected… After months of waiting, the season 10 finale of The Walking Dead has arrived, and it honestly did not disappoint. I have some issues here and there with “A Certain Doom,” as this isn’t the best the show has been. That in mind, I was impressed by how much director Greg Nicotero was able to balance in an episode not even constructed as a super-sized finale. It makes sense, as everything had been set up to allow this episode to work as a giant payoff, but I remain impressed nonetheless. It’s been a rocky road this year, to say the least, but at least everyone’s favorite nihilistic look at a post-apocalyptic world ruled by zombies ended its latest season on a high note.

Picking up where things left off, Beta has surrounded the hospital. Our heroes are all sheltered in. The plan to head out to Oceanside has been thwarted, and it will be up to Daryl and Co. to handle things themselves. That said, Gabriel (Seth Gilliam is turning in some excellent work by the way) lets Judith know he’s relying on not only all of his fellow communities to win the day but “the others,” who are also out there to help.

At this point, we cut to various shots of those outside of the hospital, including Eugene’s group on bikes, Virgil, fresh from the island, the return of Maggie, and a *checks notes* Masked Ninja armed with two curved blades. Honestly, I’m always grateful to the finales that introduce something wile and, frankly, fitting as a reminder that this series is based on a comic book. I’m not even sure who this Masked Ninja is, but I can tell you I was ten times more invested the second they appeared to save Alden and Aaron.

The first half of the episode largely restates the stakes and provides time for our heroes to prepare for Luke’s sound-based plan to move the horde out. At the same time, we get a couple of character beats to begin closing out some arcs for the season. Namely, Lydia, Carol, and Negan all have their time to shine. It’s quite fitting, as all three have been involved in things they regret, with an eye on either seeking redemption or abandoning everything. While the show lacks consistency in the way it kills off major characters, there is something to the way these three manage to find some salvation by the end of this episode.

With that in mind, the hero’s plan involves getting covered in walker guts to sneak through the horde, and I found it more than a little hilarious that this group featured one woman (Beatrice) whom we’ve almost certainly never seen as more than an extra, completely spelling out her doom way ahead of time. Of course, not only did the character meet their doom on the battlefield, she was pulled apart, one of many very graphic dismemberments featured this week.

That’s not stopping Beta from losing his sanity, however. As much as he’s able to command his fellow whisperers to move in on the hospital, he’s having plenty of creepy visions of walkers speaking to him. At this point, there’s no further depth to explore with Beta. While I would have welcomed another major battle between him, Negan, and Daryl, leaving him as more of a symbol rather than a cunning antagonist felt appropriate. Other characters needed attention.

That said, Luke’s plan does end up working for a while, complete with the brilliant use of Talking Heads “Burning Down the House” to get the attention of the endless number of walkers. It allows for several fun hero shots of the group taking on walkers as well as Whisperers before their plan is thwarted. Daryl, being the Daryl that he is, decides it will be better to “Hunt the skins,” which turns into a means for an end. At the same time, we get Lydia (who almost ditched everyone) submitting to a probably sacrifice by explaining she knows how to get the horde to a nearby cliff.

I have to say, there was a real lack of clarity as to what Lydia actually did that was so special in having the walkers head down this path. That said, it ultimately matters little, as she and Carol both received time to shine, while Daryl and the others took out the remaining Whisperers. This is ultimately where Beta met his end as well. Being knocked down an elevator shaft was undoubtedly a fun image, but Daryl making a surprise pounce, followed by a double-knife stab to the eyes was about as graphically awesome as I’m sure any fratboy/loyal viewer would want it to be. This may be a dark show, but it knows how to give the fans what they want at times too.

From here, everyone who’s been staying safe is saved and there’s a happy ending of reunions. Carol and Daryl seemingly make up. Maggie and the Masked Ninja arrived earlier to save Gabriel’s bacon at the nick of time, leading to Maggie having a nice reunion with a Judith she hasn’t seen in years. We may never know if Oceanside even had anything to expect, but hey, they’re probably safe as well.

But wait! There are still some loose ends, right? For one, Connie, last seen before an underground cavern exploded, suddenly awakens in the woods, dirty and exhausted. She stumbles around only to pass out in front of Virgil. I’m not sure what this could mean, but at least we have some closure here.

And yet there’s still more! Eugene, Ezekiel, Yumiko, and Princess arrive at the rendezvous point, only to feel they were too late. However, while Eugene gave the kind of speech that was framed in a way to make me think he was going to be suddenly run over by a car or something, instead, soldiers arrive. What soldiers? Where are they from? We don’t know yet, but as aggressive as they are, we know there’s a lot more to follow.

It’s honestly been so long I can’t say this season has been aggressively good or bad because my feelings towards it just aren’t too strong this many months later. That said, I’ve made it clear in these reviews that some of the characters have been given good material to work with. Finding an ending for a season that’s included this ongoing Whisperer War, and some nuanced villains to go with it, I am pleased it at least earned the ending that’s here, while holding onto some room for the final (extended) season to come. That’s good enough to show we’ve seen certain doom, but the show is still going, for now.

Dead Bits:

  • Zombie Kill of the Week: The Masked Ninja making quick work of the walkers was good stuff, but then there’s a giant horde being disposed of via cliff for the win.
  • Re: “Let’s hope we see some bicycle action in the finale.” – We got a little!
  • Burning Down the House!
  • Seeing a big closeup of the Whisper with a nail in his eye was another very graphic touch. Nicotero went all out with the gore this week.
  • So Judith speaks multiple languages too? This child…
  • So Masked Ninja… Are we just going along with this person for now? I can’t wait to learn more, but I feel like we could have had a scene with literally everyone asking them questions.
  • “You know who that asshole is?” “Yeah, nobody” – Daryl only likes Real country music singers.
  • Gotta admire a show that tries to make hundreds of walkers plummeting off a cliff in slow motion beautiful.
  • And that’s it for this season. Thanks for reading as always. It may be a while until we get back to it again with this show, but be like these survivors during this crazy time of ours, and stay safe out there.
  • Thanks for reading and feel free to hear what me and a few other fans of the show have to say about the series on The Walking Dead TV Podcast.

Written by
Aaron Neuwirth is a movie fanatic and Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic from Orange County, California. He’s a member of the Hollywood Critics Association, the Online Film Critics Society, and the Black Film Critics Circle. As an outgoing person who is always thrilled to discuss movies, he’s also a podcaster who has put far too many hours into published audio content associated with film and television. His work has been published at We Live Entertainment, Why So Blu, The Young Folks, Screen Rant, and Hi-Def Ninja.

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