“The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be” (Review)

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“The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be”

 

by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

 

The Walking Dead is adapted from previous source material. This review is not meant to compare similarities and differences between the show and comic. It’s meant to be read purely as a take on the episode as it stands.
 
That being said, SPOILERS AHEAD.

 

“It’s a brand new day Rick.”

 

The Walking Dead continues its assault on viewers and ratings as it launches its seventh season. In case you forgot what happened at the end of last season, suffice it to say it was a pretty lame cliffhanger that left a bad taste in many viewers’ mouths. The mystery behind who was killed is something that carried the show’s fervor through the summer, but instead of getting right to it, the show decided to continue messing with the minds of viewers.

 

En route to the big reveal, Negan got some more time to himself to display what makes him so vile. Not only does he claim Rick’s hatchet as his own, but he also challenges Rick to kill him with it before taking him on a ride just for the sake of a joyride. Rick is given time to think about the night before through a series of flashbacks of him with each of the possible victims. It was finally revealed that Negan’s two victims were Abraham and Glenn—the second one being the bigger surprise.

 

It was a pretty impressive display of power on the part of Negan to put Rick in his place by killing one of them and killing Abraham was somewhat unexpected but one of the few options the show could actually use. As far as the survivors go, he’s one of the ones that was more expendable. Abraham spent most of last season becoming more of an independent character. He was brought on along with Eugene originally to find the “cure” and proved himself to be a valuable member of the group. The survivors will mourn his loss for sure, but for many of the survivors he was really just another friend they could trust to have their back. He never really contributed to any of the bigger decisions and never really reached higher than being a hired gun of sorts.

Glenn, on the other hand, was one of the show’s biggest characters and Negan killed him to prove an even bigger point: he’s the one in charge and he demands his kind of order. Glenn has been around since the beginning and was one of the first people Rick met when he awoke from his coma. Glenn’s relationship with Maggie was one of the few bright spots of the show as it offered everyone a glimmer of hope that things could be good in the world. Negan shattered that optimistic tranquility by shattering Glenn’s face and skull. Glenn’s death is really the one of the two that “matters” and was a forced move based on where the show got itself at the end of last season.

 

There’s a lot to unpack in Negan’s approach. First of all, killing Abraham was him staking his claim and establishing his dominance. Second, killing Glenn was a response to Daryl’s reaction to Abraham’s death, which involved Daryl landing a punch on Negan. Third, Negan sent Rick into a sea of zombies to think about what he did. All three actions were very effective at making Negan out to be a monster who’s certain of who he is. All three acts proved he’s a man who’s established a system where he’s the ruler and demands nothing but obedience from his subordinates.

 

And Rick has never been the subordinate before. Much of the show to this point as centered on Rick as the leader of the survivors, the one who made all the decisions and bore the burden of the consequences because of those decisions. All of this is essentially Rick’s fault and a direct consequence of his decision to go after an unknown foe just because his group felt threatened. Negan paraded him in front of his survivors and made him out to be weak in a way that would prompt second-guessing on the part of his group. The final act of power exhibited by Negan was having Rick chopping off Carl’s arm in exchange for saving the lives of everyone else.

 

The brunt force emotional trauma of Negan calling off Rick at the last second will surely haunt him and reinforces his sadistic leadership. People will make quick comparisons of him to the Governor, but he and Negan could not honestly be any different. Whereas the Governor ruled as something of an occasional despot, Negan rules as a ruthless tyrant. His sadistic means of proving a point extended to him throwing Rick into a mob of Walkers to get “his” axe, killing two of the survivors, taking Daryl, and forcing Rick to chop off his own son’s hand as an act of submission.

 

Going forward, Negan will demand tributes from Rick and the group in exchange for their “safety” and even Rick realizes that fighting back is futile at this point. Instead, he’ll have to get them all back to Alexandria where they can lick their wounds and reassess. Killing Glenn and Abraham destroyed Rick’s sense of civic duty in protecting people that comes from him being a sheriff. Taking Daryl costs him his right-hand man who he trusted with his life and aided in all his decision-making. And as if splitting the group up wasn’t enough, Negan then had the audacity to demand that Alexandria give him supplies every week to further cement his rule.

“Last Day on Earth” painted the show into a corner where they had to kill off one of the show’s major characters and in many ways. “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be” would have been much better as the season six finale as opposed to season seven premiere, but the show likes bragging about ratings. The show has long since abandoned the concept of morality and ethics in a world rife with Walkers, good people, and bad people. It’s now moved into a phase where it’s all about finding the biggest bad on the block and picking a fight to raise the stakes.

 

“The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be” acts as something of a reboot for the series. One wasn’t enough to get out of the corner, so they killed off both Abraham and Glenn, the latter of which was definitely one of the bigger players. It was done to likely serve two purposes: to reinvigorate the series and prove to viewers that not even the upper-echelon characters aren’t immune to being killed. Rick has teetered on becoming another version of the Governor or even Negan that it’s a little thin at this point. The fact that he’s now got to carry the guilt for the deaths of Abraham and Glenn will likely put him in a shell that is pervasive throughout the season.

 

Three Stars


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