THE WALKING DEAD 7×01 Recap “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be”
The Walking Dead delivered on all its promises last night in an episode that left fans not only devastated by multiple brutal events but pondering once again if the show has gone too far in terms of gore and violence.
Teasing that there would be deaths (plural) the premiere saw Rick and the gang lose not one but two of their own through a series of events that mirrored, and in one case turned on its head, comic book canon.
Let’s break down the night’s events (spoilers ahead, obviously).
The premiere opens as we left off. Someone has been bludgeoned to death by Negan’s Lucille, but we still don’t know who. Threatening to kill Negan, Rick is visibly shaken and trembling with rage. Who was killed? Who was Negan’s first victim? We still don’t know, dammit!
Negan is unhappy that Rick is not suitably broken by events and drags him away to Eugene’s RV, where, while attempting to start the engine, Rick makes a bold grab for the ax, only for Negan to pull a gun on him. After being beaten and taken for a drive to a lonely fog-shrouded, and oh yes walker-infested location, Negan tosses the ax outside and forces Rick to go get it, taunting him with the death of our still unknown victim, and Rick’s fantasy that they would all one day be “sitting around the table at Sunday dinner, living happily every after.”
Rick manages to gain access to the RV’s rooftop, where he (and the audience) flashes back to just who died at Negan’s hands. Turns out, it was Abraham Ford. We learn that Abraham faced his death with dignity and fearlessness, getting off a “suck my nuts” jibe before finally succumbing to Lucille.
Was it gruesome? Yes. Was it hard to re-live through Rick’s eyes? Absolutely. But there was worse to come — much worse — as the comic book finally caught up with the series. Taunting Rosita with the bloody remains of her ex prompted Daryl to snap and lunge at Negan. Big mistake. Following through on his promise to allow Rick’s group one misdemeanor but not two, Negan then took Glenn’s life in an extended, gratuitous, conversational, eyeball-popping scene that made me question why I even watch this show. Again.
Weighing in on the double murder writer Robert Kirkman made the following comments on The Talking Dead after last night’s episode.
“I think more than anything, the introduction of Negan, as heartbreaking as it is and as gut-wrenching as it is, was really to just set the stage in a way of saying, you know, this show, this story isn’t going anywhere,” said Kirkman. “We still have a lot more to do. We’re setting the stage for a lot more to come. There is so much that comes out of this scene that has to be resolved. We felt like, as many years as we’ve been doing this, we wanted to send a clear message that we are just getting started and there is a lot that is going to be coming from this.”
OK. I’m gonna just park those comments right next to Glenn’s popped eyeball because it’s all a little too much right now.
Let’s get back to Rick, whose own troubles are far from over.
Negan demands the ax back. Somehow mentally picturing death-by-Lucille for all of his friends if he fails to comply gives Rick the impetus he needs to leap onto that dangling bridge-walker (remember that guy from last season?), and fight his way through the hoard where Negan eventually allows him re-entry into the RV.
Lesson learned? Negan is not so sure. He drives Rick back to his remaining friends, but comments: “That trick was about the way you looked at me. I wanted to change that. I wanted you to understand. And you still look at me the same damn way.”
Rick may have been willing to play a deadly game of fetch on demand, but Negan is still unsure he is sufficiently broken. He commands that Rick use the weapon to cut off Carl’s arm, a twist from comic book lore which saw Rick lose his own hand. Rick hesitates, and Negan promises to kill everyone if he doesn’t follow through.
“Just do it,” Carl urges, and Rick, finally broken, raises the ax to comply.
Thankfully, The Walking Dead felt we’d all suffered enough at this point because Negan stops the grisly mutilation before Rick delivers the landing blow.
It appears Negan has finally seen “the look I wanted to see,” and tells Rick they are free to go on condition they deliver half of everything they own to the saviors. They’ll be back in a week to collect. For good measure, and presumably to give Rick reason not to hightail it straight to the coast, they take Daryl as collateral.
But while we leave Rick a broken mess, Maggie steps up, promising to take the fight to Negan. She is quickly joined by Sasha and Rosita.
It seems Negan has made the mistake of assuming Rick was the only leader of the group.
- Will the seventh season of The Walking Dead mirror last season’s Game of Thrones with the women finally taking enough male bullshit and deciding to step up?
- Is Rick as broken as he seems? And if so, how will he view Maggie’s leadership?
- Is Maggie’s pregnancy problem still a problem?
- Won’t someone please look after Daryl’s injured shoulder?
- Will you ever forget the eyeball scene?
- We miss Glenn and Abraham already.
- Walking Dead showrunner Scott M. Gimple not only wanted to break Rick, but you too. Speaking on last night’s The Talking Dead, Gimple referenced the arm chopping scene, saying “I think the hardest thing about it was thinking while starting the script, ‘Well, what would break Rick?’ It was all in the book, in issue 100. But looking for a way to break the audience too. Not in a way that is in any way to hurt them, but for them to believe that Rick Grimes would be under the thumb of Negan. That he would go through an experience that would do that to him. That the audience would go through the experience too, so that they would believe that Rick could do what this guy says.”
The Walking Dead continues Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.