A Few Thoughts On The Walking Dead 7.1 “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be” (dir by Greg Nicotero)


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Well, we can all breathe again.

Tonight saw the premiere of the seventh season of The Walking Dead.  All this summer, we’ve been wondering who Negan would end up killing with Lucille, his barbed wire-covered bat.  Glenn seemed to be the obvious candidate, particularly since he had already miraculously (and, some would say, implausibly) escaped certain death on the show and he was also Negan’s victim in the comic.

However, none of us wanted it to be Glenn.  Ever since the show began, Glenn has been one of the most popular characters.  In many ways, he served as a stand-in for the audience.  Sure, everyone loves Darryl and Michonne but Glenn …. well, there was just something special about Glenn.  Whereas both Darryl and Michonne were born warriors and Rick Grimes was a former police officer who had been trained to think quickly in a crisis, Glenn was just a pizza delivery boy.  He was the guy who, by all logic, should not have survived the first week of the zombie apocalypse.  And yet, he did survive.  For sic seasons, we watched as Glenn grew and developed as a character.  When he “married” Maggie, it was more than just a plot twist.  It was proof that, even in the worst of circumstances, love could survive.

So, a lot of us told ourselves that there was no way that Glenn would die.  We told ourselves that Glenn was too popular of a character.  We mentioned all the other times that the show had led us to believe it was going to follow the plot of the comics just to suddenly go in a totally opposite direction.

Myself, I believe that Negan would kill Abraham.  Abraham seemed like the obvious choice, popular enough that his death would mean something but, at the same time, not so popular that the show would risk losing any viewers by killing him.

I was so confident in my prediction that I ever decided to make it official:

And I was right.

But I was also very wrong.

It took about 25 minutes for tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead to get around to showing us who Negan killed.  The episode really pulled out the suspense and I have to admit that I was worried they were going to go the entire hour without letting us know for sure.  (I remember Lost used to do that and it would drive me crazy.)  And when we saw Negan beat Abraham to death, I think a lot of people said, “Poor Abraham but at least it wasn’t Glenn…”

And then, a few minutes later, Darryl charged Negan and, after Darryl was subdued, Negan responded by beating Glenn to death.

(As Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who was so chillingly good as Negan, pointed out on The Talking Dead, Glenn would not have died if not for Darryl’s actions.)

It was hard to watch.  You can say that it’s just a TV show and that there are bigger things to worry about than the fate of a fictional character but, at that moment, it felt as if I was watching an old friend die.  For seven years, Glenn has been one of the show’s constants.  He’s been one of the few stable elements of The Walking Dead.  He’s always been there.

And now, he’s not.

While we were all still trying to recover from the deaths of both Glenn and Abraham, Negan was busy breaking Rick.  Rick has always been the leader.  He’s always been the guy who you can count on to ultimately do whatever needed to be done to protect the group.  Rick was the one who stepped up to shoot Sophia when she came out of that barn.  Rick was the one who, no matter how bad things got, everyone felt they could depend on.  In a world where it was often hard to find meaning or morality, Rick has always stood for something more than just ruthless survival.  And yet, last night, we saw a totally defeated Rick.  Not only did Rick watch helplessly as two of his people were brutally murdered but he was also nearly forced to chop off Carl’s hand.

(I know that a lot of viewers — myself included — were expecting Negan to chop off Rick’s hand in the RV.)

As I watched that scene with Rick and Carl, I couldn’t help but think about the biblical tale of Abraham and Isaac, a story that I have always hated.  God ordered Abraham to sacrifice his son and he waited until Abraham raised the knife to say, “Stop, it was just a test of your faith.”  (Abraham is so overjoyed that he never stops to ask, “What type of God would ask me to do something so terrible in the first place?”)  When Negan ordered Rick to chop off Carl’s hand and then stopped him only after he raised the hatchet, it was Negan’s way of saying that, for all intents and purposes, he is God.

Again, it wasn’t easy to watch.  But at least Maggie doesn’t appear to be ready to surrender.  Rick may have been broken.  Darryl may now be a hostage.  But Maggie is going to keep fighting.

Finally, I have to say that, after watching all of this, I am so incredibly thankful for Chris Hardwick and Talking Dead.  When Chris opened the show by promising that we were going to talk through what we had just witnessed, he wasn’t kidding.  Tonight’s episode of Talking Dead felt like a televised group therapy session.  It helped to see Steven Yeun and Michael Cudlitz on that stage with the rest of the cast.  After we just watched, we needed to see them all together.  We needed to see them laughing and joking and crying and hugging.  We needed that catharsis.

Talking Dead served as a reminder that it was just a TV show and nobody had really died.

So, why do so many of us still feel like we just said goodbye to a member of our family?

One final thought:

RIP, Abraham and Glenn

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glenn

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13 responses to “A Few Thoughts On The Walking Dead 7.1 “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be” (dir by Greg Nicotero)

  1. TV shows usually don’t get all emotional. I can always compartmentalize part of me who gets emotionally attached to characters on favorite shows from the part of me who understands this is just fiction.

    I knew that Glenn would die even with the Abraham switcheroo, but it was still difficult to see Glenn die. Like Lisa said, he was the stand-in for the audience, and his brush with death in episodes past always were met with shouts and near sobs.

    Some have said that the show jumped the sharks seasons ago and I can’t say yes or no if it has. I do believe that while there are other shows better in terms of writing and acting, The Walking Dead taps into that group collective of allowing each and every viewer to imagine themselves in that world in the safety of their room.

    One can’t truly see themselves in the world of Westeros, but seeing ourselves in a world breathing its last (for some it’s already there) and how we’d cope within such a world is what makes zombie fiction timeless.

    It’s sad and heartbreaking to see Glenn and Abraham go. Yes, it is still a show of fictional characters, but part of the enjoyment and appeal of such shows is that we get to know these characters and, in time, care for them and hope for the best for them.

    Many will blame the writers and producers for manipulating the emotions of it’s audience, but in the end we allow ourselves to be manipulated. Like I said, I knew that there was a high chance Glenn will die and while not surprised it happened I still allowed myself to feel that death.

    Good thing I have many bottles of bourbon to choose from to take the edge off after tonight’s season premiere.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Arleigh (and Lisa): jumping the shark was *exactly* the phrase that came to my mind after enduring this atrocious episode. You are correct in stating that the show has come close to a full Fonzarelli in the past, but they eventually righted themselves and made it work, or at least recovered and even improved the quality within several episodes. It may be just me, but this felt different. It really feels like the beginning of the end. The gratuitous sadism and absurdly over the top tone (is it possible to make a show about the zombie apocalypse *less* realistic? Well, yes, apparently) did not even seem to reflect the same show I’ve been watching all these years. I sincerely hope this isn’t a sign of things to come, but I fear (TWD) that it is 😦

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      • Last night’s episode definitely seems to be a love-it-or-hate-it episode. Judging from what I’ve seen on twitter and Facebook, it would appear that there’s almost an even split as far as reactions are concerned. Quite a few people have said that they felt last night’s episode crossed the line into “torture porn.”

        I’m taking a wait-and-see position. If every subsequent episode is just Negan torturing people while giving Saw-style speeches, I’ll probably stop watching because there’s only so much of that anyone can take. The Walking Dead — and really, almost any contemporary horror series — has always run the risk of using shock and gore as a crutch.

        My hope is that the next few episodes will deal with Rick and his crew dealing with both the loss of Glenn and Abraham. Hopefully, it’ll take a step back from violence and concentrate on the struggle to maintain humanity in an inhumane world.

        So, we’ll see what happens! 🙂

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      • If, in the future, we are looking for a jump the shark moment for The Walking Dead, I think we’ll probably end up focusing on the premiere of Fear The Walking Dead, one of the most unnecessary spin-offs in television history. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think for some it has and for others it hasn’t.

        I actually thought the violence and sadism wasn’t more than past episodes when characters died (Noah, the Hunters). I think for some last night’s episode went pass the line because it involved fan favorites (Glenn).

        At least for me, the sadism was exactly what was needed to make Negan become a convincing Big Bad that wasn’t just a rehash of the Governor.

        I do believe that the show will lose some viewers who cannot abide the series’ escalating violence. Violence that was fine as long as it was directed at zombies and no-name characters, but when directed at characters the audience have come to know it’s finally too much.

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  2. Subtraction by addition
    If JDM continues to devour more scenery than ten walkers do bodies, they will have lost me. There is nothing interesting or organic about his character as portrayed, IMO. I don’t even care about hating his villain or deeds, because so far he comes off as an actor playing a bad guy, which is the last thing a show like this needs. I like him in most of his other stuff, but not here.

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    • My assumption — and hopefully we’ll know if I’m right or wrong after seeing a few more episodes — was that Negan going over the top because he wanted to scare the Hell out of Rick and his crew. Hopefully, Morgan will get a few quieter moments as the season progresses.

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  3. Lisa, I agree, it was so hard to say goodbye to Glenn. And the Sarge, too; he became a valuable asset to the group and could be depended on for some great one-liners. Also, I totally thought of Abraham and Isaac when Negan let Carl keep his arm, and I haven’t seen any other bloggers draw out that particular metaphor – Negan establishing himself as their god. Maybe they’re out there, but I haven’t seen them. Excellent analysis!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: A Few Thoughts on …. The Walking Dead 7.5 “Go Getters” (dir by Darnell Martin) | Through the Shattered Lens

  5. Pingback: TV Review: The Walking Dead 7.9 “Rock in the Road” (dir by Greg Nicotero) | Through the Shattered Lens

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