Monday, October 24, 2016

The Walking Dead, Season Seven, Episode One: The Day Will Come When You Won't Be

Okay people I'm giving you a spoiler alert. Don't read this if you haven't watched last night's episode.

On Friday, Sparky and I published a piece on our prediction as to who was going to die and as it turns out, we were both wrong. 

For months now, whenever someone mentioned The Walking Dead, it was all about who was going to die on tonight's episode.  The writers didn't make it easy for us and made us deal with the aftermath first.  Rick's loss and rage plays center stage and he deals with it by threatening to kill Negan, which of course was not the reaction that Negan wanted.  Negan wanted Rick and his group to be defeated, to feel powerless and to be broken.  

Negan's first act was to take out Abraham.  As horrible as it may sound, I actually felt relief seeing Abraham die, falsely believing in that moment that the worst was over.  The truth of the matter is that Abraham was supposed to die in the episode where Denise died and so it simply felt as though the writers held over Abraham's death so that they could open with it this season.  Abraham died well, telling Negan to, "suck his balls".  I'm going to miss Abraham and his wonderful one liners, his burgeoning relationship with  Sasha and even his friendship with Eugene.  In many ways, Abraham's character was in a good place and that, as we know, is how the writers like to leave a character before they kill them off.  

Abraham as it turns out was only the appetizer to the main meal.  Seeing Abraham smashed remains an enraged Darryl attacks and actually manages to punch Negan in the face.  For me, that was probably the most satisfying punch to date. Only Tyrion slapping Joffery felt better.  With all things  Negan however, there's a price to pay for challenging his authority.  Negan decides that an example must be made and he goes onto his next victim.

Image result for Glenn the walking dead

Given that we spent quite a bit of time last season not knowing whether or not Glenn survived, I didn't actually believe that the writers would go there.  On top of that, we've been told that the comics and the show while in the same universe are not the same.  As we know, Glenn died in issue 100. Glenn has long been one of my favourite characters and as Negan introduced him to Lucille (read:his bat) my heart broke. With Glenn now dead, there are now only four members of the original group left.  The writers brought the comics to life, complete with Glenn's eye bulging out of his skull, and with Glenn calling out to Maggie, promising to find her.  It's absolutely heartbreaking and a huge loss as far as I am concerned.  I must admit that I bothered by the fact that the writers gave us this big cliffhanger followed by months of building expectations, only to do exactly what they already did in the comics. 

With the deaths of both Abraham and Glenn, it's clear that the writers intend to make Negan so much more than the Governor 2.0.  Negan is cold, calculating and purely driven by power.  Negan demands obedience and survives by making others cater to him.  He is an alpha dog on the hunt. 

Rick is absolutely haunted with the memory of watching Glenn and Abraham die, as Negan pulls him aboard the RV for an impromptu road trip.  It's clear from the look in Rick's eyes that he's in pain and that he is looking for some way to seek revenge for the loss of his friends. Rick's look, for Negan symbolises that Rick has yet to accept his situation and his loss of power.  Rick has not yet been beaten.

Negan decides to fix Rick's attitude by dragging him to the RV and heading out on a little road trip.  By this point Rick is absolutely seething.  They arrive at an area of heavy fog and Negan stops the RV.  Negan then tosses an axe outside into a zombie horde and orders Rick to retrieve it.  Rick finds the ax on top of the RV and lies down thinking about who else is still at risk.  Rick thinks about everyone else left alive and them being beaten death.  After several close calls with zombies, Negan finally drags Rick back into the RV, only to find that Rick still has not been broken.

The two men return to camp and Negan ups the ante.  This time, he orders his men to put a gun to the head of each surviving member of Rick's group as he talks about the fact that Rick still has vengeance in his eyes. Negan orders Carl to step forward and after discovering that Carl is right handed, ties off Carl's left hand, before forcing Carl to lie face down on the ground with his arm extended.  Negan then gives the order for Rick to cut off Carl's arm, threatening to kill everyone else if he doesn't comply.  It's the order to chop off Carl's arm or watch the rest of his people die that finally breaks Rick.  Rick begins to beg and cry until Negan finally relents, sensing at long last that Rick has finally been broken.

Negan and his men pack up and leave but not before warning Rick that they'll see him in a week for supplies and taking Darryl with them as a hostage.  Alone at long last, Maggie is the first one to move.  She wants to head to The Hilltop to check on her pregnancy and wants to see Glenn have a decent burial.  Maggie can hardly move and it's this that spurs Rick to move into protective mode. Maggie however will not be stopped and is determined that they will get revenge.  Rick however points out that they are outnumbered and that Darryl is a hostage.  Maggie kneels over Glenn's body and Rick finally begs to be allowed to help to bury Glenn, pointing out that he's their family as well. Maggie relents and the crew grabs Abraham and Glen's bodies and takes them into the woods presumably for burial.

This episode was designed to make the audience absolutely hate Negan.  Not only did he kill Abraham but our beloved Glenn as well.  He's going to be a force to be reckoned with this season. The Alexandrians are way out numbered and despite everything that they have survived so far, they've never come up against a force like Negan's and that includes Terminus and The Governor.

Before this episode, Rick and crew were confidant that they could survive anything that was thrown at them.  They finally settled into a community, felt safe and even started having visions of the future. Maggie came into her own and negotiated with Gregory.  Rick surveyed his little kingdom with a sense of satisfaction. All of that is now gone for good.  Negan's taunts about Rick's group sitting down for Sunday dinner and growing old together serves as a reminder of how much has been lost.

This episode drove home two points on this show:

  1. Other than Rick or Carl, anyone can die at anytime
  2. The real threat in this world isn't the zombies but fellow humans fighting over supplies and power
With a war brewing with the Saviors, I highly suspect that Glenn and Abraham are only the first of the casualties, particularly given that we are going to meet characters from The Kingdom soon.  This is going to be a very bloody season on The Walking Dead.  As much as I felt for Rick's horror, it's been so long since he's been humbled, though I wish it had been done without killing off Glenn.  In the end, this is going to be another incident to add to their PTSD diaries but I doubt that those who survive will be greatly changed by it. The world will simply evolve again and we will meet new characters and Rick will once again find himself on top of the mountain because the plot armor is strong with him.