The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be
After months of waiting The Walking Dead is back with a horrific, albeit slow start as it is revealed who would be victimised by Negan and Lucille. If you haven’t seen the episode already or looked at the internet, there will be spoilers.
The episode opens where the finale left off, Rick and the gang on their knees surrounded by Negan’s army as Negan himself torments them with impending death. It’s a grim start to what becomes a deeply disturbing episode. There is no enjoyment, no satisfaction, or anything pleasant contained within, it is simply pure misery. Annoyingly despite waiting months for it to be revealed who Negan’s victim would be, the start of the episode decides to make us wait a little longer before we get it. It’s a strange tactic and if anything made me a little impatient watching it. Not that I look forward to seeing somebody die, but we spent the entire finale episode leading to this moment not including the wait between seasons. In my humble opinion, had they opened with the death right off the bat…it would fall in line with the unnecessary shock and awe tactics that followed.
As it would have it, after a mini vacation from the devastation where Rick starts his trial by fire at the hands of Negan, we return to discover who was the first to fall. Much to my personal dismay we lost Abraham. He was certainly on borrowed time having survived the point of his demise in the comics, but the lovably brash character signed off in typical Abraham fashion by telling Negan “Suck my nuts” before succumbing to the force of Lucille. No matter what the format, any media depicting somebody getting their skull caved in is never going to be pleasant, but considering what we’ve seen before Abraham’s fate worked and it wasn’t unwatchable. But the episode wasn’t finished.
As Negan despicably taunts the remaining group members following Abraham’s death, Daryl reacts and swings at the new king villain. Whether his actions resulted in what followed will remain to be seen, but it was the only respite viewers got in the episode. As Negan declares the first punch is on the house, he cracks Glenn’s head and claims his second victim. But because Glenn is such a trooper he survives the first strike. With an eye popping out of his skull and his head a bloody mess he struggles a gurgled farewell comment to Maggie as she is forced to sit by and watch Negan bludgeon her husband to death. It’s at this point I felt the episode turned into something else other than an episode of The Walking Dead.
Admittedly we’ve seen a lot of gnarly stuff through the six seasons of the show, from the evisceration of countless walkers to Herschel’s beheading to the sickening Terminus butchery (which itself felt out of place). However the visuals of Glenn’s death just felt unnecessary. The episodes director Greg Nicotero feels the heavy response to the scene is just a knee jerk reaction to the way we feel about these characters, to a certain extent I agree but it doesn’t justify the explicit nature of it. After six seasons with Glenn you could have shot him off screen and we’d all still feel like crap after loosing the beloved character. It was shock without awe, and the show has managed to evoke many feelings before at the loss of characters with much less. Maybe I’m just struggling to process it myself.
After the two deaths we’re in full swing watching Rick go through yet another unsavoury turn, having his mind and soul tortured and broken down by Negan. The episode ends solemnly as the surviving group members start the next leg of their journey under the leadership of a broken man, and under the control of an evil man and his omnipresent army.
The first episode of this new season which has promised many things did start out slow, despite the events that took place. The entire episode centred around the fate of two characters and Rick’s emotional journey, which left the primary story at a standstill and pretty much in the same place we left it at in season six. We knew people were going to die and we knew Negan was now in control of the group, and as far as the group goes only Rick and Maggie were given any development. It left me feeling like the whole incident was slightly overcooked. No doubt we’ll see the fallout of this episode reverberate through the entire season, with more story development to come from other surviving characters, but when you’ve got the impending appearance of Ezekiel and ‘The Kingdom’ you’ve got to wonder how much they can cram in without saturating characters.
That being said, I’m eagerly awaiting the rest of the season because now we have the weight and responsibility of that moment over with so the story can progress. I’m certain the best is yet to come.