I don’t generally review The Walking Dead. I’m a fan of the show, but I usually only review hero-based shows. I’m not going to do it regularly, but some things deserve an exception. “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be,” is one of those. After ending Season 6 on a major cliffhanger, Season 7 started off with an amazing premier.
If you’re a fan of the show but somehow have managed to not watch this one yet and avoided the spoilers that are all over the net by now, don’t worry. I won’t do any here. The specifics of what happened aren’t really what I want to write about anyway.
The Walking Dead has been a really outstanding show since the start. I’m one of the many who got caught up in AMC’s production without having read the books (yeah, I know, bad geek). I’ve been following along with the characters, have watched every episode, and have been drawn into Chris Hardwick’s Talking Dead as well. The show is gory, yes. But that’s not what keeps me coming back.
The Walking Dead breaks so many rules. It’s a zombie show that never uses the word zombie. It departs from the source material and makes it work. And while some shows claim it, this one means it: the characters aren’t safe. If you go back and look at the first season, the majority of those people aren’t around any more. Sure, there’s a small core that everyone is sure will always come out ok. That doesn’t always happen.
This episode was amazingly written, acted, and filmed. It was shocking, brutal, and believable. The ugliness had a purpose. Negan, the new villain extraordinare, had a point to make it, and he did it. But the death or deaths (trying to avoid spoilers as I said) weren’t the parts that were the hardest to take. Or at least not for me.
As bad as the gore was, this was a more psychologically brutal episode. It was about a man with apparently no morals or qualms about anything bending another to his will. And it worked. With most shows, there would be some kind of heroic defiance, overcoming the odds, and the heroes winning free. In this case, it was more like the group got chewed up and spat out. The phrase, “Things will never be the same again,” is over-used. It applies here. One thing I will say- both the big trademark weapons are gone.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays Negan, and I salute him. I had the most visceral reaction I can ever remember having to a character. On a show, when someone’s annoying, I’ve heard people say, “Oh yeah, he needs to die.” I’ve said it myself. I’ve never really meant it this much. Morgan had the majority of the dialogue this episode, and he delivered it with cocky assurance. He had no doubt he would win, and never considered any other possibility. What he left behind was hard to watch. I don’t just mean the gore. The survivors are bent if not broken. One of the big fighters in the group appears to be spiritually crushed. Another is gone in a different way than I expected.
On most shows, I’d have no doubt that, even as dark as it was, the heroes would eventually win free and beat the villain down. I’m not convinced that’s going to happen. The Walking Dead is that kind of show. Deaths range from heroic to accidental, from meaningful to pointless. It’s not a bright cheery show. It’s not a good guys always win kind of thing (Look at the Flowers…).
I salute the writers, the actors, the director, the cast. It was masterfully done. It was one of the most impressive things I’ve ever watched. I don’t think I’ll ever watch it again. And oh dear God I hate Negan. Morgan did a great job. And I can’t really put into words how much I want to hit him. Over and over.
In the Roman Empire, Cato the Elder was a Senator who believed that Carthage posed a great threat to the Empire. He ended every speech with, “Carthage must be destroyed,” no matter what it was about. I have taken my inspiration from Cato, and changed all my sig files. And I’ll end this with a my new signature.
Negan must die.