The Walking Dead Did the Impossible Last Week
(WARNING: THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS MASSIVE SPOILERS FROM LAST SUNDAY'S EPISODE OF THE WALKING DEAD. IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE EPISODE, TURN BACK NOW)
On April 3, there was a great disturbance in The Force...millions of voices cried out in terror...and were suddenly even louder by tossing their television/streaming device out the window.
I, of course, am referring to the Season 6 finale of The Walking Dead. Up until the finale, the show had balanced the sheer brutality we've come to expect from it, but also found a newfound sense of levity, shockingly giving our main group an unbelievable string of good luck, one that we knew was going to end sooner or later with the arrival of the notorious Negan, a menace from the source material comic that promised to rock our world...literally...with his barbed wire entangled baseball bat, coined Lucille, set to take down a member of our heroes.
But when Negan finally showed, full in his Jeffrey Dean Morgan glory...nothing. Oh he whacked someone, all right, but it cut to black as Lucille came down. All that was missing was the text asking us who we, the infuriated audience, who we thought Negan whacked, and the 1-800 number to call in our vote.
Negan's act...as well as all the other horrors he pulled in the episode after...was unforgivable. But with Sunday's season premiere, The Walking Dead did the impossible....the horror of the previous season's finale was all but forgotten.
Does it still reek as a bit of a desperate cliffhanger? Yes. But in hindsight, it makes our reveal that Negan took down not one, but TWO of our beloved crew when we finally returned to the Grimes group, one of whom whose been with us since the show's historic pilot.
Was it perfect? Nah. Does it go down with the great epic TWD episodes like "Too Far Gone", (Prison Raid Part II) "The Grove" (Look at the Flowers!) and "No Sanctuary" (Carol vs Terminus)? Again, probably not. But it's satisfying. It's enough to make us forgive the show, to come back, to see what happens next.
What makes this episode work are the little things. For example, when it comes to our first death...he of the "suck my balls" departure, Abraham Ford...check out his hand.
He's flashing his trademark peace sign farewell to his beloved Sasha. It's heart-wrenching, poignant and tears at us even more when Lucille meets his cranium seconds later.
And then it's Glenn...poor, poor Glenn. The pizza boy whose been with us since Atlanta, went like his comic counterpart,
Furthermore, let's check out the title for this episode..."The Day Will Come When You Won't Be". A bit of a random title, but it has so much to do with the series. Recall, all the way back in the first season finale, when the ill-fated Dr. Jenner allows Rick and Co. a chance to escape the CDC building, wired to self-destruct. Rick declares "I'm grateful", to which the tragic doctor replies the episode's title. Now consider the circumstances Rick finds himself in this episode...Negan forcing him to cut off his son Carl's arm in order to let the others go...this is it. This was that day. Rick's endured countless death and destruction since awakening from his coma...but this was it. This was the nadir of his post-apocalypse journey. He's reduced to literally sniveling like a dog, begging Negan to spare what groups he has left. If there was ever a day Rick wished he and his group stick Dr. Jenner (and Jacqui) in the exploding CDC, it was this.
And finally, let's get to Negan himself. His appearance was teased throughout the season, and once we got over our anger of the cliffhanger, we realized Jeffrey Dean Morgan did a damn good job with this role. For its previous big bad, The Governor, the show toned things down, as The Governor, a complete remorseless monster in the comic, is given undertones of hope and tragedy. It worked because David Morrissey did such a good job with the role. With Negan, though, the show is no holds barred. Morgan has played this type of role before, previously serving as one of the few lone spots of Zach Snyder's Watchmen adaptation, and he's at his best here. Negan is going to be the type of guy you love to hate. You almost can't even hate Negan for his brutality. Oh, don't get me wrong its sadistic as hell (although Game of Thrones fans probably watch the Carl's arm scene and say "Eh..."), but lets not forget Rick and Co. straight up murdered every Savior they came into contact with. Surely they didn't think these deeds, made with the Hilltop community they barely know, would go unpunished?
And that brings us to where we go now...the possibilities are infinite now that the cliffhanger is taken care of. The Hilltoppers and Alexandrians are going to be at odds, Rick's leadership will lead to millions of "What if
The Punisher Shane was still alive?", Daryl is reunited with his BFF Dwight and let's not forget Carol and Morgan have ventured (presumably) to The Kingdom, where (hopefully) much friendlier living beings await them.
One thing's for sure though..."The Day Will Come When You Won't Be" achieved the impossible when the screen cut to black last year...ensure a show entitled The Walking Dead is very much alive.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490.
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