Originally published on Flickering Myth on 24/10/16.
So the wait’s over, the constant thirst for information can finally stop, we finally know who new big-bad Negan pulverised into tiny pieces in the dying moments of The Walking Dead’s last cliffhanger. But are we any happier? Not really. As much as I’m assuming we all really, really, really wanted to know who finally bit the dust, when we finally did… boy oh boy did it hurt.
The aptly titled season 7 opener, ‘The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be’ was always planned as a game-changer in the grand scheme of the show, but what Greg Nicotero and co. actually delivered was, quite possibly, one of the grimmest pieces of TV this side of Game of Thrones. Aside from the constant tears and frequent yelps, it was a beautifully composed ode to the show’s new generation of misery though, so here are five of the best moments from one of the most memorable episodes to date:
1. Rick vs. the Dead
Just to draw things out for as long as humanly possible, of course we don’t jump straight into finding out who the hell died, instead following Rick and new best bud Negan on a little countryside jaunt to iron out some differences. Stopping in the middle of a misty patch of walkers, Negan hoofs Rick’s only weapon, a trusty little hatchet, out of the truck and demands he retrieve it. And with a gun in his face, for the first time in a while Rick follows somebody else’s orders, wandering blindly through the fog, desperately scrambling away from the local biters.
Not only is the whole sequence fantastically shot, like an even grimier take on, ironically, Frank Darabont’s The Mist, but we actually get to see Rick totally out of control for a change. True, it’s just a little taster of what’s to come, but seeing him fumble around cluelessly not only makes for a neat few zombie encounters, it also opens up a scary new possibility. Rick and the gang always seem to have a back-up plan on hold (even if that plan is just Carol going all Rambo for no reason) but this time they genuinely don’t, so we’re as lost as they are. For once, success isn’t even close to being a certainty.
2. The Grand Reveal
Okay, the game’s up. It was poor ol’ Abraham that got the chop, even finding time to throw a cute little peace-sign Rick’s way before having that musky scalp of his completely torn to pieces. It was sad, there’s no denying it. But the second Negan dealt that last blow and Abe’s head stopped being a head and became more a pile of mushy goo, we all relaxed a little bit. Maybe we were wrong to in hindsight, but all that waiting finally seemed to pay off with the first genuinely uncomfortable character death in a while.
3. Carl’s Not A Lefty
Just when you thought Rick had learned his lesson and Negan’s constant cruelties were over for a little while, there was suddenly even more to be on edge about. With the gang’s leader still not quite the blubbering mess he wanted him to be, Negan grabs Carl, thrusts that ominous little hatchet back into Rick’s hand and demands that he hack his own son’s arm off, or face even more family casualties. After an unexpected bout of begging from Rick, he finally mustered up the courage to do it, only to be stopped by Negan, mere inches from impact, leaving Carl with his arm in tact, but his father a totally broken man.
With Rick finally well and truly his bitch, Negan and co. pack up and head for the hills, taking Daryl prisoner and leaving the survivors of Alexandria to ponder their new trade sanctions. Suddenly alone, the group do nothing for a solid minute, instead just lying, defeated, in the bloody remains of their fallen friends and family. It’s a difficult image to watch, but easily one of the show’s most powerful ones, and something which no doubt sums up the season ahead. Shit most definitely just got real.
5. KILL OF THE WEEK: Glenn finally meets Lucille
Despite Abraham’s death dealing a major blow to the show’s core cast, it wasn’t quite the one fans (particularly comic readers) were hoping for. Yet, just minutes later, it seems their prayers were answered, following a quick flash of that reliable Daryl rage. Annoyed, Negan picked a second victim and everybody’s favourite delivery boy finally took his last bow. Glenn’s been living on borrowed time for quite a while, even to the point where he’s actually become less of a character and more of a constant punching bag, so to see him die, and in the most grisly, stretched-out manner possible, was a pretty sobering affair. It’s certainly been a long time coming, but that didn’t seem to make it any easier to handle.
Aside from no doubt dealing numerous fans generous bouts of PTSD, ‘The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be’ delivered some of The Walking Dead’s most iconic moments to date, so here’s hoping there’s even more to come next week as Season 7 continues.