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The group struggle individually, and a Glenn meets some new faces.
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AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 7, Episode 1: “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be”
Directed by Greg Nicotero
Written by Scott M. Gimple
* For a review of the Season 6 finale, “Last Day on Earth” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Well” – click here
Our episode’s title comes from Dr. Jenner at the CDC, way back when Rick said he was thankful for all the man had done for them. To which the doc replied: “The day will come when you won‘t be.”
Today is that day.
We start on Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), his face spattered with blood. Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) taunts him. But Rick replies: “I‘m gonna kill you.” The nastiness of Negan’s demeanour is so perfectly awful. He digs into Rick, already having taken his victim from the group. He takes the hatchet Rick arrived with and brings Rick into the RV with him nearby. Behind them, a pile of blood and gore.
Who was killed?
Inside the RV, Rick cowers like we’ve never seen him do before. Hiding in the shadows. And Negan tries to clue him into the new rule of things. He challenges Rick to take the axe and do him in. But you know it ain’t going down like that. He knocks Rick to the ground, dominating him. Proving a point. “Think about what happened, and think about what can still happen,” Negan all but cackles in the driver’s seat, taking Rick for a ride somewhere.
Then we flash throuh Rick’s mind, as he sees memories of everyone in their group. Glenn (Steven Yeun), Enid (Kately Nacon), Eugene (Josh McDermitt), Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), Aaron (Ross Marquand), Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Daryl (Norman Reedus) , Michonne (Danai Gurira) – while Negan throws his axe from the RV into a foggy road of walkers, beckoning Rick to go get it. Our trusty leader, the onetime Sheriff Grimes, manages to get on top of the RV, hatchet and all. Although as he stares into the distance either way you can see the hope starting to fade. For the first real time, he’s a broken man. “I bet you thought you were all gonna grow old together,” Negan pokes at him more from inside.
Now we’re back to the eenie meanie miney moe. Negan goes around the line. We watch Rick’s eyes. We see the terror in the eyes of every single person. The taunting of Negan and his bat land on: Abraham. He savagely beats the brains out of Abraham’s head, smashing him over and over. Everyone watches in sickly disgust, as nothing is left of the skull and brains. Nothing. “Look at my dirty girl,” Negan calls to them horrifically. He even taunts Rosita (Christian Serratos) with the bloody end of Lucille. Then Daryl breaks loose, punching Negan.
Will he get the bat, too? No. Even Dwight (Austin Ameli) rushes in to try putting an arrow in Daryl’s skull. Negan won’t allow that. Not right yet: “That‘s not how it works.” No, no, no. Another victim for Lucille comes next.
Glenn’s head is smashed in. The front caves. So suddenly. Everybody is brutalised by the sight of Glenn, his eye popping out, trying to speak to Maggie in his last moments. Negan goes on whacking away until there’s only blood and hair left on the end of Lucille. The group is left devastated.
Rick lies on top of the RV, remembering what’s happened. All to well. This is the worst and most wounded we’ve ever seen him.
In a crazy moment, Rick jumps from the RV, using the hanged man from the bridge as a grip. With zombies clawing at him, walkers of all kinds trying to rip him apart, Negan pops them all off and saves him. He urges Rick: “Think about what can still happen.” And Rick does. He sees the rest of his group smashed by Lucille, one by one.
Back in the RV, hatched in hand, Rick makes it to Negan. A real sick game, all around. The man with the bat continues his cerebral assault, in such a villainous, nonchalant way that it’s sickening how good Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays the role. When they get back to the group, Negan has Rick kneeling in the middle of his remaining friends. The Saviors put guns to the back of their heads and the wretched Lucille-holding monster calls Carl (Chandler Riggs) to the centre. He wraps a belt around the boy’s arm, puts him to the ground next to dad. Negan proceeds to mark off a spot on Carl’s arm with a marker.
Rick has to cut an arm off his son. With his hatchet. Or else everyone dies.
So, what does Sheriff Grimes do? It’s all a psyche out. Rick has been broken, in front of everyone – The Saviors, his own people, his son. He’s torn every bit of Rick apart, his soul, his manhood, his power. What a vicious cycle. Because you know it’s a cycle. Broken as he is, Rick will be coming back. He will not let this rest, not forever. For now, sure. But not forever.
“Things have changed. Whatever you had going for you, that is over now,” says Negan to the crowd. He takes Daryl in the back of their van. Property of Negan. They’ve got a week to start getting supplies together for him. A new day. A new deal. Minus two strong people from their crew. People they’ll never get back, ever again. Literally left in Negan’s dust, the rest of the survivors struggle to figure out how to move on from there.
Maggie’s the first to get up. She wants to keep fighting, even if Rick is beaten to a pulp emotionally. He also understands how bad things are right now, she isn’t acting or thinking rationally. But sadly, Rick has also lost control. He has no more power. And Maggie, she’s in a depression spiral, unable to accept that they’ve just got to go back home, pick up the pieces. Now, they take their dead friends with them and do what they can for them.
In a vision, we see all the group, happy, healthy, a baby on Glenn’s lap. As if there weren’t enough tears shed. Negan’s voice rings in the ears of Rick as they load up the RV to leave. He thought they’d all be sitting around, as in the vision, that dreamy world. These days that vision is a far cry, and Rick is realising it. Around him he’s also watching the walkers die off. Everything is dying. Everyone and everything dies.
What a savage episode. Completely numbing. I expected Glenn’s death, but didn’t anticipate such a wildly effective execution. Love how the power dynamics are shifting. No longer is Rick the big, tough guy he was once. Although he’ll get back there it’s going to take a major event, or series of them.
Looking forward to the next episode “The Well” and what it’ll bring!
AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 6, Episode 16: “Last Day on Earth”
Directed by Greg Nicotero
Written by Scott M. Gimple & Matthew Negrete
* For a review of the previous episode, “East” – click here
* For a review of the Season 7 premiere, “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be” – click here
So we’ve arrived at the end of Season 6.
Open on Morgan (Lennie James). He comes across a horse in a field. Towards him walks the man who survived Carol (Melissa McBride) previously.
Back at Alexandria, Carl (Chandler Riggs) is getting ready to roll, as Enid (Kately Nacon) doesn’t quite believe in what they’re all doing. Meanwhile, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) is saddling up. Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), Eugene (Josh McDermitt) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) are going, too. Everyone wants to go, no matter what. Aaron (Ross Marquand) is game, as well. In other news, Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) is proving himself a proper savior in his own right. His character development is some of my favourite, honestly, outside of the very main cast.
Out in the woods people are whistling, unseen, and a man runs away, scared. They track him down and beat him. The Saviors? You bet. The tension of this opening, score and all, is impressive. Starts to set up an epic showdown.
On the road in the RV, Rick and crew are heading to Hilltop. Maggie (Lauren Cohan) is having big time pregnancy troubles, and obviously worries. But Rick assures: “Everything we‘ve done, we‘ve done together.” No matter how bad things get he can always at least put a little faith in people, he’s a charming, charismatic leader. Can he save them all from what comes next?
Morgan tends to a wounded Carol. She’s in need of stitches. He wants to help more, though, she isn’t readily allowing any of that. She doesn’t want to go back.
Along the road, Rick and Abraham see The Saviors with the man they’re holding. Uh oh. It’s already starting. Out they go to meet in the middle of nowhere. The Saviors aren’t joking around and make it clear someone’s got to die. Instead, Rick has other ideas. They all slowly back off. For now, things are fine.
Rick: “You wanna make today your last day on earth?
Savior: “No, but that is a good thing to bring up. Think about it, what if it‘s the last day on earth for you? For someone you love? What if that‘s true? Maybe you should be extra nice to those people in that RV because you never know – just like that. Be kind to each other. Like you said, like it was your last day on earth.”
Rick: “You do the same”
Morgan and Carol are alike, yet still at odds. She has to school him on how things are: we must kill if there are people around us. You don’t get to have people and have a normal life. You either get to be with people and kill, or be on your own and not have your hand forced. She pleads with Morgan to leave. “If you care about anyone there‘s a price, Morgan, and you‘re gonna have to pay it,” Carol tells him.
The most tense and unnerving part about what’s happening so far is that we know a big, tragic finale is coming, some way. Right now, they’re building up the happy moments, the emotional bits and pieces. Up until the moment The Saviors appear, once more, in the middle of the road. Always waiting, watching. Now the survivors are preparing to do whatever’s necessary. Very eerie atmosphere, as the group tries to figure out how best to get down the road.
Under his nose, Morgan finds himself deserted. Because Carol is adamant about not going back, she’s sick and tired of the new world and how it is to worry, care, love if another person is involved. I understand, sadly. Can’t be easy for anyone to exist. Aside from trying not to get bitten by zombies you’ve got to worry about all of the rest of ordinary life, too.
Another ways down the road the RV encounters a ton of walkers. They’re chained and left in the middle of the road – “a Red Rover,” as Eugene puts it. They discover things belonging to Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) attached to the zombies. Out of nowhere gunfire explodes at them from the hills. They respond and things get real tense. Luckily, they clear the road and get through. Heading deeper into the belly of the beast.
Rick is already dying with anticipation. Now he knows they’re being led in a particular direction. Worse, Maggie doesn’t seem to be doing too well. Then more trouble on the road – Saviors, everywhere. They’ve got nowhere else to really turn. At every last corner there The Saviors are, waiting for their arrival.
Morgan finds rosary beads in the street. Will there be a showdown between him and the Savior left after Carol’s massacre? Will the man find Carol? I’m terrified to find out. Not a second later does he show up. Carol finds herself at the mercy of this man. He puts one in her arm, planning to watch her die on the pavement.
Again and again we’ve been getting views of someone stuck inside a box, or somethng similar. Likely Michonne and Daryl? Who knows. Glenn? We’ll see.
The hardest part about the Maggie situation, for Rick, is watching another pregnant woman go through the post-apocalypse world. Even worse, she’s having a rough time. Hopefully she’ll last. Too many tragedies have fallen upon their group, and they’re no saints, but they don’t deserve all their hardships.
But for Carol’s part, she wants to die. Done with the world, she hopes to leave. Might come sooner than later, as the man puts yet another shot through her leg. Still, she keeps up her sarcasm under duress. Soon enough Morgan arrives. He shoots the man dead, going against his precious life philosophy. Although, it’s for a good purpose.
Afterwards, some armoured folk come out of the forest. They actually own the horse Morgan rode. The men agree to help them. Is this all it seems? Can’t trust anyone right off the bat.
Carol: “The world doesn‘t decide, you decide. You don‘t get to walk away and get what you want.”
Through the forest stride Rick and his crew. A tree roadblock keeps them from going further, and then they witness the man from the road earlier being hung. He dies brutally in front of them before a fire starts in the roadblock. Such ominous stuff, as the Savior from earlier speaks from behind the slowly building fire, warning of the last days on earth and such. Spooky.
Everybody’s worried, obviously. I would be. At each turn they’ve encountered a literal roadblock. They decide to ditch the RV and head onward. Eugene first gives over a bullet “recipe“, one that will help them in the future. It’s a very goodbye-type moment. Touching. Plus, there’s a better one with Abraham and Eugene, an honest and beautiful moment between two friends. Definitely touches the heart, and scares me about what will happen in the last ten or fifteen minutes.
So Rick and the crew head out with Maggie, leaving the RV in the hands of Eugene. The score even tugs at the heartstrings, more than ever before on the series. It’s real epic sort of stuff. Again, this worries me. A strong setup for brutal tragedies.
In the woods, Rick and the group hear the whistles. It sends them deeper into the forest. Some of the creepiest stuff EVER on the show. When they run out into a massive gang of Saviors, things turn around quickly. The creep factor goes up, so does the pulse. Rick looks devastated already, as Eugene is seen kneeling on the ground nearby.
“Welcome to where you‘re goin‘,” the Savior from earlier greets them all. For the first time in a long time, Rick is in a position of absolute weakness. Totally castrated, effectively. The games are about to begin. Last time Rick was made to get on his knees, he bit out a man’s throat. What will happen this time?
The light inside the box was the others, after all – Daryl, Michonne, Glenn, Rosita (Christian Serratos). The gang is all back together. Lined up for the big entrance. He has arrived – Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) walks out to see them all. He taunts them about “pee pee pants” and other juvenile phrases. Then he chats with Rick. Tides are about to turn, drastically. “You are so gonna regret crossin‘ me in a few minutes,” Negan says plainly to Rick. The law is laid down.
Negan: “You ruled the roost. You built something. You thought you were safe, I get it. But, the word is out: you are not safe. Not even close.”
In the end, there is punishment. Negan selects himself a victim, introducing everybody to Lucille, his barbed bat, using more juvenile phrases – this time some Eenie Meenie Minie Moe. The whole sequence is so intense you’ll find yourself racing, heart pumping, pulse ready to leap out of your body. The tension is drawn out perfectly.
Only problem is AMC has decided to stick a thumb in the viewer’s eye by not letting us in on who Negan decides to kill. We’re given POV that simply lets us in on the savagery of Negan, the bloody brutality he brings to this world. Not impressed, I must say.
Stay along for the ride. Or don’t. Many say they’ll stop watching because of the ending. Me, I fucking hate it. I do. But I’ll keep watching because I have to know. Although, that being said: Season 7 has to pick up and do some different things, take different routes, figure out a fresh new formula, because after this finale I’m starting to get sick of the predictability of the series. Much as I dig the show there are serious flaws. Here’s to hoping the writers start listening to the roar of fans and switching things up. Maybe that’s what Negan will do overall. We’ll have to wait and find out in October.
AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 6, Episode 13: “The Same Boat”
Directed by Billy Gierhart
Written by Angela Kang
* For a review of the previous episode, “Not Tomorrow Yet” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Twice as Far” – click here
This episode opens with Carol (Melissa McBride) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) confronted by members of The Saviors. Then the group calls out to Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun) and the others. They command over the radio, essentially opening a hostage negotation for the two women. Off in the distance, Rick says “we‘ll trade” and then needs confirmation Carol and Maggie are fine. Things go on from there, a little rocky on The Saviors’ side, but steady enough. Then The Saviors put bags over Carol and Maggie’s heads for transport.
A nice grim opening leads way to the women being taken to a facility, most likely a slaughter house as we can see KILL FLOOR written on the ground; the only perspective we’re allowed, as Carol and Maggie go through their kidnapping. Impressive directorial choices at the start of this scene, which forces us into their POV until finally inside.
While the others try and plan their next course of action, Carol steadily hyperventilates, looking terrified. McBride is an amazing actor, and the character of Carol’s become one of my favourites of any television series. But one of the leaders of the group, Paula (Alicia Witt) confronts Carol wondering: “Are you actually afraid to die?” They toss Carol rosary beads, which she holds onto tight.
This group, particularly the women, is tough, they seem hardened more than most people. Paula’s slightly scary. Her demeanour is of a broken woman, but one with a lot of power. She and Maggie go back and forth over life, the meaning, babies, et cetera. It’s clear the good faith of Maggie meets its match against Paula, and whatever horrors she’s seen personally along the way.
Paula says a “scout crew” are coming. Meanwhile, their group is breaking down a bit when the man Carol shot before being captured starts to lash out. He hits Polly, then Maggie gets a hit in. Finally, Paula pistol whips him to calm things down. A nice, exciting few moments, also a bit perilous when thinking of Maggie’s unborn child. Carol gets a good few kicks before the pistol whipping then lays there awhile. Something is certainly coming.
Another parallel aside from Carol and Paula is Maggie and Michelle (Jeananne Goossen). Michelle’s got a situation happening with her boyfriend, and so there’s a certain amount of her which resonates with Maggie. Yet they’re on opposing sides, different interests.
More negotiation over the radio. Rick tries his best. Although, Paula’s clearly set in her ways, a determined person. Then there’s Carol who attempts to talk. Instead of her usual fighting nature. Except after a little while, she asks for a cigarette. Paula continues telling Carol she’s “weak” and unable to stick to her “own principles.” Then goes on about her life before as a secretary, her family, and how in the end she had to kill to life; “I stopped counting when I hit double digits,” she says re: her murder record.
Again, we’re seeing Carol and the rest of the group as what they’ve become, like everybody else: killers. Though they’ve definitely got better hearts in certain cases, Rick and the survivors still kill, they did last episode in relentless fashion. So while they think of themselves as better or more moral than others, they’re no better than most of the survivors of the zombie apocalypse.
Paula: “Are you going to kill me?”
Carol: “I hope not”
Once a supposed deal with Rick begins to turn wheels, Paula and her haggard old lady friend head out leaving Carol by herself. Naturally, using the rosary beads, she gets free, and then releases Maggie. “We have to finish this,” says Maggie sternly. Some sort of crisis is happening for Carol in her head. It’s as if she’s lost her nerve. Meanwhile, Maggie is tougher than nails, and she picks up all the slack; even smashing one woman’s head into jam. A bit surprise for Paula when she comes back to find a bloody scene in the room where she’d last left Carol.
The two escapees come across a walker trap left for them. But Paula shows up firing bullets. She taunts Carol: “You have no idea, the things I‘ve done, what I‘ve given up.” This starts a big fight that ends when Carol shoots Michelle in the head for nearly slicing open Maggie’s stomach. Eventually, Carol kills Paula, too; something we knew had to come. The fighting survivor in Carol will only take so much, even if it wounds her inside.
Still, she and Maggie lure more Saviors to the kill floor where they’re lit on fire and locked in a room. Can we really still totally root for Rick, Carol, Maggie and the others? Are they still the good guys? Not according to Michelle from her conversation with Maggie earlier.
Out into the daylight Carol and Maggie go. They meet up with Daryl, Glenn, Rick and the rest. “They‘re all dead,” Maggie says with a fragile shake in her voice.
At the finale, Rick asks Primo (Jimmy Gonzales) to talk. He claims he’s Negan. Then Rick goes ahead and shoots the man in the head, as Carol watches on gripping her rosary beads until her hand drips blood.
An exciting chapter in this sixth season. One that asks more questions about the nature of morality, as well as questions whether we can stay fully on the side of Rick Grimes & Company, while they rip and tear their way through the post-zombie apocalyptic landscape. Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Negan is sure to be a horrifically savage counter-balance to this group when he comes. Stay tuned with me for “Twice As Far” next week.