By: Casey Johnston (@DarthHockey)
WARNING: There are spoilers ahead for the season seven premiere of The Walking Dead.
Let’s hear it for Jeffrey Dean Morgan. I knew as soon as the news broke for this casting that he was the perfect man for the job and he has not disappointed. Negan isn’t just a bad guy. We’ve seen bad guys in the Governer and Gareth. Negan is something different. Rick Grimes has been a certifiable bad ass for the first six seasons of this series, and it would take a special kind of evil man to break him; Negan is that man. The writers, through Negan, took Rick on a journey in this episode from defiant to broken, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan played the part perfectly. It will really be something to see what Negan has in store for Rick and the group in the coming weeks.
For the first time in this series, we saw Rick completely helpless. By my estimation, the group was outnumbered at least 10-to-1 with no weapons. They all had to watch helplessly as Abraham was brutally murdered. Then they had to repeat it as Glenn met the same fate. It would be disappointing if Rick had just rolled over at this point; that’s simply not his character. It was necessary for Negan to take him on that ride into the herd of walkers to break him. Still, that wasn’t enough. Making Rick think he was going to cut off Carl’s hand finally did the trick. Watching this, I could feel Rick’s pain and desperation. I was shaking as I watched this, just as Rick was shaking. It was a brilliant performance by Andrew Lincoln, probably his best of the whole series. This was a series-changing moment. If you’re expecting everyone to shrug this off and be better by episode three then you’ll be severely disappointed. This moment will reverberate through the characters for seasons to come.
Glenn and Abraham
Over the course of the summer, I probably predicted everyone to die in this episode. I finally narrowed it down to Maggie and Abraham, so I was half right. Glenn didn’t seem like a correct choice to me. His death was teased so many times throughout the course of this series, and we had the moment last season where we spent a month thinking he was gone. Add to these things the fact that he died at this moment in the comic and it all seemed too obvious to me. Still, the writers handled it well. Making him the second person to die preserved the suspense while still managing to stay true to comic (and the look of Glenn after he was first hit was a spot-on adaptation from page-to-screen).
Even though I predicted Abraham to die, it still surprised me. I was expecting him to stand up to Negan much the same way Daryl did. That didn’t happen. Instead, he just lost the worst game of eenie-menie-miney-mo ever. Thankfully, he got one last Abraham-ism in there.
How bad must Daryl be feeling right now? He stood up to Negan and got Glenn killed. He probably doesn’t even care that he’s captured; he probably just wants to die right now.
Hopefully, this can put to rest the rumors about Rick losing his hand. This was something that happened in the comic when he first met the Governer. It’s also something that Robert Kirkman has gone on record numerous times saying he regretted. It was a great thing at the time for the story, but Kirkman hasn’t liked the limitations of Rick not having a right hand. It’s also very expensive. If done right, the special effects department would have to remove Andrew Lincoln’s hand every week via green screen, and that’s simply not a cost AMC is willing to take on. So despite many people, including Andrew Lincoln, lobbying for this to happen, it’s just not. We have to let it go.
“The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be”
If you’re wondering where the title of this episode comes from, it’s a first season easter egg. As Rick and the group are leaving the CDC, Dr. Jenner tells him, “There’s still a chance.” Rick replies that he’s grateful and Jenner responds, “The day will come when you won’t be.”
We were all pissed off at the writers of this show after last season’s finale, but I think they redeemed themselves tonight. Sure, we didn’t find out right away who died like they promised, but I preferred the way this episode was edited. It was suspenseful. Now that the season six finale and this episode have aired and we can watch them back-to-back, I think we can rightfully look at them as two of the best episode of the whole series.
Lastly, in hindsight, I don’t mind that I had to wait five months to see this. Watching the two deaths for the first time in one continuous scene enhanced the emotional impact for me. Apparently, the writers do know what they’re doing.
Thanks for reading!