It's almost an understatement to say that The Walking Dead's sixth season was a controversial one. For my money, it was one of the best the show has ever aired, playing out one horrible, no good, very bad day over the course of the first half of the season, and then setting up the worst villain the show has ever seen in the second half.
That would be Jeffery Dean Morgan's barbed-wire wrapped baseball bat wielding Negan, by the way, whose one and only scene on the show has been analyzed more than any piece of footage since the Zapruder Film. Which of the 11 Walking Dead cast members lined up in front of Negan's death-bat Lucille in the Season 6 finale will get bashed to smithereens when the show returns? It's the question that's haunted Walking Dead fans all summer long.
It's also the source of the controversy, as fans were frustrated by what they felt was an unfinished story. The show's producers argued that they were completing one story -- the utter defeat of the group's leader Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) -- before beginning another; while fans already burnt by the fake-out "death" of Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun) earlier in the season argued this was just another shock tactic to grab viewers.
Now fans have a new reason to return to that notorious final scene: tomorrow (August 23), Anchor Bay is releasing The Walking Dead: The Complete Sixth Season on Blu-Ray, DVD and digital. Along with deleted scenes (there are a lot of cut scenes featuring people digging holes), featurettes, and insightful audio commentary on episodes, the five-disc set also includes an extended version of the Negan introduction scene as part of an elongated, uncensored "Last Day on Earth," the Season 6 finale.
...And Negan cursing is so satisfying.
In the comics and graphic novels The Walking Dead is based on, Negan cusses harder than a sailor genetically crossed with a cowboy. Other than the bat, and his cheerful nihilism, Negan's use of language is probably his No. 1 character trait, at least on the page. Unfortunately, Walking Dead is on basic cable. That means you could go the Mr. Robot route and cut audio when Negan curses. Or you can do what Walking Dead already did in its Season 4 finale: change the lines.
Season 4 found the Grimes Gang trapped in a train car, ready to be chopped into tasty meat treats by the cannibals at the supposed safe haven of Terminus. Rick had other ideas: he turned towards his makeshift family, and uttered the classic line from the comics: "They're screwing with the wrong people."
Except that's not the line, actually. The line in the comics, and the one recorded for that season's home video set is, "They're f---ing with the wrong people." There's a palpable difference in how that feels coming out of Rick's mouth to the audience at home; and the end scene that was broadcast was noticeably lacking.
Negan's introduction wasn't necessarily tension deficient, as Morgan gave a mostly uninterrupted, nearly 10-minute monologue to the captured company before horrifyingly murdering one of them from the POV of the camera (so we didn't get to see who died, but got to feel the act). But the scene was missing something -- and, as it turns out, that something was cursing up a storm.
Chances are most fans are going to zoom to this part of the set first anyway, so the "new" scene is on Disc 5, in the extended version of "Last Day on Earth," starting at Chapter 9. And g--damn if it isn't jaw-droppingly better than the one broadcast on TV, and easily makes plunking down the money for the Season 6 set worth it. Don't get too excited for additional clues to Negan's victim, though... I've watched that scene (both versions) way too many times than is healthy, and I can tell you pretty confidently that the second half of the scene is exactly the same. It's the first half where Negan finally f---ing shines.
Look: language, and how you use it, is important. In the comics, Negan sometimes comes off as so arch with his over-the-top colorful language that it diffuses his apparent danger... which makes him all the more dangerous. And by its nature, f--- is one of the severest words in the English language (the "ck" ending is one of the harshest two letter combos we've got). Robbing Negan of one of the primary weapons in his arsenal makes him weaker, and particularly after seeing this extended monologue, it makes me concerned for how effective he'll be in Season 7.
That said, the un-extended version actually robs Negan of one of his weapons to the show's benefit. In a blink-and-you-miss-it moment that didn't appear in the broadcast, Negan pulls up his leather jacket to casually reveal a firearm tucked into his belt. It's an extra layer of threat the villain definitely doesn't need, and takes power away from how scary and unstoppable he is with just a baseball bat and a smile.
Here's hoping in Season 7, Negan continues to not wield a gun, and does wield his language like a weapon. Until then, you can watch the f---ing extended version at home as many times as you f---ing want.
The Walking Dead: The Complete Sixth Season streets on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital HD on August 23 from Anchor Bay Entertainment.