FOR GOD’S SAKE MIND THE SPOILERS FOR TWD SEASON 7 OPENER DOWN BELOW!
After waiting months for it to return, writing thesis statements on who it could be, and getting into Twitter wars over how exactly it would hit the fan, The Walking Dead has returned to blow the lid on the worst cliffhanger to ever hit cable television. The gut-wrenching premiere that was ‘The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be” directed by Greg Nicotero was a blow to fans, as we discovered to our horror that there wasn’t only one victim of Lucille’s wrath, but two. Having to wait 20 minutes into the episode to watch who got the bat, we were treated first to the scene that AMC had already released online, where Rick told Negan that he’d eventually kill him, to which Negan only laughed and drags him into the RV.
After that scene, Negan drives Rick to where they were at in the finale last season, where we had seen someone get stung up with a chain and hung. Both of Negan’s kills come are shown in flashback. The first one to go is Abraham, much to my devastation. He was my personal favorite, and watching him get literally beat into the ground killed me. The horror didn’t end there though. After Daryl punches Negan in the face, he takes out Glenn, a regular since season 1, who has narrowly defied death at least once a season.
Watching Abraham and Glenn die was horrible, but I will admit that it was so well-written, that through my tears I could appreciate it. Abraham’s death, though it didn’t go down in the comics in that way, was as ‘Abraham-esque’ as it could’ve been. I almost had to suppress my urge to chuckle at his last words. Known for his quick quips and reactive comments that everyone manages to keep a straight face for, it was only appropriate that his final phrase would be “suck my nuts”. In Glenn’s case, in the comics he had been the only one to be killed by Negan. In this incarnation, Glenn’s death was as close to the comics as they could manage, and still held some surprise for the readers of the comics. After Daryl punches Negan to defend Rosita, Negan “shuts that shit down” and takes one more survivor out. Glenn was a bit more devastating than Abraham, as his death was thrown in as a surprise, Negan just turning around and swinging at his head. He let the bloody Glenn with his eyeball popped out of his head say his last words to his wife, watching stricken no more than a few feet away. “Maggie, I’ll find you”, he says before Negan promptly finishes the job.
Daryl, who by the end of the episode, is taken by Negan and will be used as one of his soldiers, will probably be dealing with an insane amount of guilt in future episodes. I don’t want to point the blame for Glenn’s death at Daryl, but I’ll let you decide.
TWD did an amazing job of intertwining Negan’s crude humor and the tragedy of the moment all in one episode. It made you feel like you wanted to be in on the joke, while at the same time hating him for joking about Glenn’s eye popping out of his head, or about Abraham’s last words. He’s the ultimate villain that you hate, and at the same time, like. He’s a charming guy, and Jeffery Dean Morgan plays up his deadly charismatic-ism very well. You can tell that the actor enjoys every second of playing his role, and that makes him even more intimidating.
We’ve all seen Rick at what we thought was rock-bottom for him. He’s discovered that his wife died in childbirth and was mercy-killed by his young son, hallucinated of his wife, watched countless loved ones die, thought that his baby had been killed or eaten and continued to think that for weeks until he found that she wasn’t, walked into a sea of walkers after that same son got shot in the eye, among many other difficult things throughout the show. The difference between what happened then and what has happened now to Rick is that he has been completely and totally humiliated. In all of those past situations, Rick always had his pride, sometimes too much of it. Here, we saw him get cut down, something that we’ve never seen before in the show.
The best scene that displayed this new version of Rick was near the end, when Negan forces him to cut his son’s arm off, stopping him before he actually did it. Rick was begging Negan to cut off his hand instead, snot coming out of his nose as the tears flowed freely. TWD is known for regularly making connections between the show and Christianity, and I saw this scene as a throwback to the story of Abraham from the Bible, where God tells him to sacrifice his son, stopping him right when he’s about to do it. God wanted to show Abraham that he was the ultimate authority, and to test his loyalty. Negan did the same to Rick, and in the throes of his desperation, he decides to do it, out of necessity. Negan wanted to show Rick that he was the boss; their God. And Rick, helpless, had to accept it, accept him. This was a clear contrast to the Rick in the beginning of the episode, shaken and yet still standing, telling Negan that he would kill him, not today, or tomorrow, but one day. This might have been Andrew Lincoln’s best performance yet in the show; you could feel the anguish and desperation coming out of his pores; his fear and torment palpable. “You’re mine”, Negan says to Rick, and it’s terrifying to watch our defeated hero mumble a humble “yes”.
There was no Carol hiding in the woods, ready to blow up the saviors, no trusty rocket-launcher, or walker herd to save the day, and that created a sense of urgency and fear in the episode, and while it caused my heart to stop at least twice in the episode, they were welcome heart-stopping moments. In the down moments of “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be”, the tension was still there, like in the moments after Negan and his saviors left. One of my favorite scenes in the episode, the fog and scattered line of survivors stay in their positions dead silent, not knowing what to say or do, setting a depressing yet beautiful imagery. Watching the survivors’ confusion over how to now continue on living after such a horrible thing will be interesting.
The only criticism that I can muster for the episode is the fact that this was a premiere and not a finale. While I appreciated the different feel of the premiere, I couldn’t shake the feeling that this was a season finale. In my opinion, this should have been the end of season 6, instead of AMC trying to push the cliffhanger thing. It’s a small downside for me, but other than that, the episode was one of TWD’s best in a long while. I’ll have to watch again to decide whether it was my favorite of all the episodes, or just in my top 5.
Honestly, I had to take a minute after watching the premiere. It was definitely traumatizing to watch, and was unlike any death we had ever seen before on TWD, though it seemed we had been almost immune to the gore that the show presented. I was revolted watching Negan saunter away from Glenn and seeing bits of him stuck to Lucille. The Walking Dead seems to have brought back the feeling I personally had seeing death and blood in the show in the beginning, and hopefully we’ll see more of that.
We want to know what you think. Were you as horrified as we were at the sheer brutality of the episode? Let us know whether you agree with this review or not in the comment section below or on Twitter or Instagram!