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The whole "split the final season in half and make it two seasons in all but name" thing is definitely AMC and not the Villigang - they did it for the final season of Mad Men, too.
Here's an article on some of the reasons why it happens, if you're interested:
There is some context to the beer thing - Jim (the 12 Monkeys guy) was a brewer who frequently used the fact that he could make beer in a potential rebooted civilization as leverage to keep himself alive...at least until he got bitten during a botched hospital escape and threw himself off a rooftop onto a car to set off its alarm and distract a load of walkers, giving everyone else a window to get away. So Morgan going and retrieving some of his beer to save everyone else from the antifreeze poisoning is played as a poetic "Jim saved us from beyond the grave once again" moment. It's at least set up well, although everything else about the situation makes no damn sense.
The are two real big problems with this batch of episodes. The first is that Dirt Lady is one of the worst villains in Walking Dead history, and that's saying something. Seriously - it's astounding how little sense her motivations make; it can be summed up as "no one helped her when she needed it, so she kills anyone who actually does tries to help people, because...reasons.
The second problem is that the whole thrust of the half-season is that everyone is going to go to Alexandria once the group is back together, only for it to abruptly end with Morgan saying "no, actually, we're not going to go to Alexandria, we're gonna hang out here in the middle of nowhere and keep helping random people in the apocalypse/set up a new community or whatever". Like, both versions of Walking Dead are dire enough at this point that a crossover wouldn't really excite me that much anyway, but it's strange to build up to one for eight episodes and then suddenly backtrack in the last five minutes of the finale. Having said that, it feels like the two shows are still going to merge in the future, especially seeing how low Fear's ratings have gotten.
It's a shame, because "the group gets split up by a hurricane, so Morgan recruits a gang of dipshits and goes on a road trip to reunite them" could have been a blast in the right hands. But Chambliss and Goldberg just weren't up to the task, and it certainly didn't help that Gimple was involved in creating the broader arc of the season (the decision to kill off Madison and replace her with Morgan as the main character, for example, was almost certainly an idea that came from either him or the AMC execs above him), restricting the number of directions they could take the story in for the sake of the greater "Walking Dead universe".
One of the very best things I've seen on TV this year, and probably this show's best season yet. A growing concern lately has been that BoJack suffers from the Rick Sanchez problem - people identifying with the main character too strongly, giving up on the idea of improving themselves, and just wallowing in being a shitty person. This year they dived headfirst into that problem - the meta use of Philbert to critique the show and ask whether it's even responsible to be telling this story, or if it does more harm than good, was an inspired way to address this issue, and they all but hang a neon sign telling the audience "you should not be like this" in episode 10, so hopefully it leads a few people to some personal growth.
Also: HENRY FONDLE. I love this show.
@JaimieT The only thing I want to do less than have an argument about Star Wars right now is have an argument about an argument about Star Wars. So I'll edit the comment, but again, please leave me be.