Previously on The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead – S7E1 – “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be” | Starring: Andrew Lincoln, Danai Gurira, Lauren Cohan, Chandler Riggs, Melissa McBride, Lennie James, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Sonequa Martin-Green, Norman Reedus, Michael Cudlitz, Steven Yeun, Alanna Masterson, Josh McDermitt, Christian Serratos, Seth Gilliam, Ross Marquand
Negan described the events of the season six finale as “Career Day.” He said he told his followers to put on a show to display just who they are, but more importantly, what Negan is capable of. Rick’s group had already taken out two sets of his people, and he most likely knows that this was done in league with Hilltop. There’s a better than great chance this has been the biggest opposition Negan has faced since becoming the leader of his very own band of Trump supporters. (Don’t look at me like that. You know those people voted Trump.) Negan had to send a message not just to Rick and his people, but the other groups under his control, and to his very own people.
The message was simple: Don’t fuck with me.
Yet, after watching two of his people meet the business end of Lucille, Rick still had the temerity to say, “I’m going to kill you.” Rick was not yet broken. The first forty minutes of “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be” were all about breaking Rick and the audience. And I needed to be broken if they were going to make it up to me for that finale.
I hated the final moments of the season six finale. It wasn’t even waiting months to find out who died that bothered me. I’m literally a professional TV watcher; I know cliffhangers and I love them. My issue was that it wasted all the beautiful tension and terror built up from the moment Jeffrey Dean Morgan sauntered out of that RV. I was sure that I wouldn’t feel the emotional punch I wanted to when Negan made the kill. So, while many people grumbled through the first 30 minutes or so when we didn’t know who’d died, I needed it.
After Rick threatens Negan, he’s dragged off in the RV with Negan, Lucille, and Rick’s own hatchet. Negan proceeds to play mind games to show Rick he owned him now. It’s while Rick takes a moment to remember the carnage he just witnessed that we finally get to see who Negan killed.
Abraham lost the Eeeny Meeny Miny Moe and took his first hit, as Negan said, like a champ. He got out one last, “Suck my nuts,” before Negan connected Lucille to his skull over, and over, and over, and over again. This was sad – I predicted it would be Abraham, but I didn’t want to see Michael Cudlitz go – but not necessarily the devastating blow (no pun intended) the show had promised. But wait; there’s more.
Negan tries to force Rosita to look at the saturated end of Lucille, and Daryl decides he’s had enough. He gets one punch to Negan’s face before he’s taken down. Though Dwight wants to kill him, Negan has other plans. He warned the group if one more person jumped out of line, he’d “shut that shit down.” Since this whole encounter is about showing who he is, Negan’s going to keep his word.
He then slams Lucille on the top of Glenn’s head. Glenn takes another hit before pulling himself upright, gurgling and moaning, and with one eye popped out of its socket, and tells Maggie he’ll find her. Negan finally puts Glenn out of his misery, just as he’d done to Abraham, bashing his skull into pulp.
Not only was this brutal, it was heartbreaking. Most people knew that Glenn is the character killed at this point in the comic books. Steve Yeun is such a fan favorite it would have been understandable if the show decided this was another time to deviate from the source material. By showing us Abraham’s death first, they ignited a flame of hope that maybe Glenn would be spared. Thankfully, the show understood that Negan’s (somewhat) first kill needed to be as devastating as possible. As gut wrenching as it was, they definitely made the right call in killing off Glenn.
Negan sends Rick out into the walker-filled fog to fetch his hatchet (Yeah, he Debo’d Rick’s hatchet), and implores Rick to think about what just happened, what could still happen, and what will happen if Rick doesn’t lose that fire in his eyes. He puts Rick in a situation of damn-near certain death, and then saves his life just to show he could.
Listen, at this point Negan could have claimed Michonne as his woman and took custody of Rick’s kids and I wouldn’t have blamed Rick if he said, “You right.”
Yet, Rick still wasn’t broken. He fetched the axe, nodded his head, and agreed to the terms of the New World Order, but once Negan took him back to the group, he recognized that Rick was still looking at him like he wanted to get froggy.
Negan pulls Carl out of line and ties off his arm above the elbow. He tells Rick to cut off Carl’s arm or everyone will die in front him. Andrew Lincoln completely sold Rick’s anguish and fear. Rick Grimes was finally broken. Negan waits until Rick is seconds away from swinging the hatchet to stop him. Through the tears, sobs, and snot, Rick agrees to whatever Negan wants.
As I mentioned above, I watch a lot of TV. Always have and always will. I cannot think of one other time when the hero of a series was brought so low. It’s simply not done. Typically, after the hero growls, “I’m going to kill you,” the series would find some way to get the good guys out of the predicament. Perhaps the hero’s bravado would impress the cocky bad guy and he’d decide to keep him around because he loves a challenge. Or maybe the hero would have been rescued. Either way, the result would be seeing your hero knocked down, but not out.
Negan laid Rick’s ass out.
Negan gives them their RV, another truck, and a warning that they’d be around in a week to collect from Alexandria, and then he leaves with his crew and Daryl as insurance. Our group is left on their knees, shattered. Maggie wants to fight. She’s willing to continue on to Hilltop alone, while Rick and the rest rally the troops. Of course, this isn’t going to happen.
Sasha offers to take Maggie on to Hilltop and everyone agrees they’re going to take their dead with them. There’s a beautiful moment of grace between Rosita and Sasha, where Sasha says she’s going to “take him with me.” This was a genuinely sorrowful moment between two women who both loved the same man, and had to watch him die in a horrific fashion. Together, they carry his body off with the help of Eugene.
I have no idea what happens in the comic books beyond this point. Though I’m only in volume 8 of the series, I was aware of certain plot points ahead of time: I knew they lost the prison, I knew the Governor beheaded someone at its gates, I knew they eventually ran into cannibals, I knew Negan killed Glenn. Now, this is all completely new to me and I’m fascinated. As I said, I can’t remember the good guys ever being brought so low. This means I have no idea how a series begins to build them back up, and I’m dying to see them do it.
Leave your thoughts on the premiere below or on the Facebook post with this review, and we’ll read them on tonight’s podcast!
The Walking Dead S7E1 = 9.9/10