THE WALKING DEAD
The Day Will Come When You Won't Be

Season 7, Episode 1 Tweetcap

10/22/2017

Steven Yeun, Michael Cudlitz, et al | Image copyright AMC

"Bet you thought you were all gonna grow old together, sittin' around the table at Sunday dinner, and the happily ever after."
—Negan to Rick

I know how much everyone loves doing this work and how they give their all to make the best show they can, to bring humanity to such a harrowing story... I was able to keep going for the superb acting. Andrew Lincoln had me absolutely mesmerized. He was nothing short of masterful throughout. And Lauren Cohan was at her best, faultless in her depiction of agony.

Project Intro: Well, things have not gone to plan. I gave myself a project for the 2016-2017 TV season. I was going to tweet every episode of my five favorite dramas and then gather those tweets into post form, sprinkling in more commentary here and there. The only one I managed to finish was The Walking Dead S7E8, which took weeks, as is the usual for me when I get hung up on one amazing episode. So, the whole summer passed me by and I had nothing to show for it. But I'm not giving up on this project. I'm just turning it in past due, and making sure I don't have a two-season pile up by next May. Good luck to me.

Andrew Lincoln and Jeffrey Dean Morgan | Image copyright AMC

What an agonizing wait it was from early April to late October of 2016 to see the conclusion. I knew when I saw the title of the finale, "Last Day On Earth," that we were only in for a whole lot of heartache. And where it ended, with the biggest cliffhanger imaginable, was not right. I was anxious whenever I thought about it, and I thought about it a lot. I never thought about quitting the show, but I would have wanted to end it right there if I could so I'd never have to know. I love the show more than I ever have before for having that power over me.

I did die and I do blame him. I'm still glad he took the part, though. I can't imagine anyone else now with that kind of smug look and charm that can turn terrifying in an instant. A very far cry from papa Winchester (Supernatural). I also blame Andrew Lincoln and Lauren Cohan, who had the most devastating scenes.

Speaking of not being able to look away, this episode was one where I had to do just that. I hated it and I loved it. It was the worst and the best. Opening where we left, on the scene of our survivors on their knees, trembling in fear, we hear quiet sobbing and still aren't prepared all these months later for finding out who met the business end of Lucille. I was nervous that entire time and it ramped up that night. That feeling was dragged out, brilliantly, by showing the aftermath first in, and on, Rick's face.

Andrew Lincoln | Image copyright AMC

Then the flashbacks came when Negan dragged Rick to the RV and drove him off to teach him a lesson about falling in line. Flashbacks that revealed how Negan chose Abraham to take one ("or six or seven") for the team. It was like taking all the air out of the room and so sad because none of our heroes could do anything to stop it.


Andrew Lincoln and Jeffrey Dean Morgan | Image copyright AMC

But that wasn't the last. In a surprise turn, Negan then took Glenn's life, too, after Daryl punched him. So often, moments and characters have been translated differently from graphic novel to screen, but it turns out that Glenn's fate had to remain the same. His death fuels so much down the road. Glenn was there in the beginning and will never be forgotten. He will be the reason Rick, Maggie, Michonne and the rest of Alexandria will win against the Saviors.

No one who loves this show, or used to love it until this moment, will ever get over it. It was horrible to witness, even through fingers behind half shut eyes. I wish I shut them completely, given my blood pressure a chance to back away from catastrophic levels.

Don't worry, we're good. I could never stay mad at Jeffrey Dean Morgan, no matter how gleefully he destroyed two of my favorite characters. He sure did test me, though. We're good because I know how much everyone loves doing this work and how they give their all to make the best show they can, to bring humanity to such a harrowing story.

Andrew Lincoln | Image copyright AMC

"He blew me away. It's a tribute to what a brilliant actor he is. To those people complaining, I think it's as much about his performance as it is going through the loss and the grotesque shots."

Much has been asked of the fans before. We've had to go through many shocking, awful moments along with the characters; this was something new. I never wanted to see something like that and I hate that I did. But I was able to keep going for the superb acting. Andrew Lincoln had me absolutely mesmerized. He was nothing short of masterful throughout. And Lauren Cohan was at her best, faultless in her depiction of agony over losing a loved one suddenly and violently. I rarely see these true emotional depths that leave me in tears, thinking about it often and I'm sure forever.

The best scene ever to provide proof to that claim and all others about how dedicated the actors on TWD are is this one. Andrew Lincoln deserves awards for this. See the video at the end to experience it if you haven't already or if you made it through this episode, and the oppression of this season, and you're still a fan. (Jump to video)



Andrew Lincoln and Chandler Riggs | Image copyright AMC

"Not making a decision is a big decision."
—Negan ordering Rick to chop off Carl's arm.


Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Andrew Lincoln | Image copyright AMC
"You answer to me. You provide for me. You belong to me. Right? Speak when you're spoken to! You answer to me! You provide for me!"
—Negan, giving Rick a reprieve

Andy Lincoln has had many superb, heartrending moments over the previous six seasons, like the traumatized aftermath of losing Lori or what he had to do to save Carl from the Claimers. But this was on an even higher level that I didn't know existed. Lincoln has always given everything asked of him and more. His performances show that he's not just acting but feeling and reacting. And more than ever, this was a sustained, emotionally draining, terrified agony that was a jaw-dropping work of brilliance.



1. Danai Gurira and Lauren Cohan; 2. Sonequa Martin-Green, Ross Marquand, and Josh McDermitt; 3. Christian Serratos and Norman Reedus | Image copyright AMC

I thought I had loved The Walking Dead as much as it was possible to love any show. Every one of my all-time favorite shows has done that to me at some point, often a number of times. That's why I count TWD among them. This episode, and this season, showed me I could go through the worst a show has to offer its characters and not lose me as a viewer, and actually make me love it more, because now I'm holding on that much tighter to those who are still left.

And to have such astonishing performances to bring it all together was both the heart of everything and the icing on the cake. I got through this, battle scarred but still determined to tune in, because of the sheer talent in that line of people keeling before Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Negan. They were so good that Morgan even commented on it in an interview. I can't find the quote I'm thinking of, somehow lost it when I wanted to save it, but he's praised them more than once. Here's how JD felt about creating this episode. This is what these actors give.

"All of that was hard. It got to the point where I didn't want to do it anymore. Emotionally I was completely drained - all of us were, I would imagine."

"In the show that aired, there's no let up, and it was like that for 10 days for us. It wasn't just 40 minutes of it; it was 10 days of that, every day, all day."

How could anyone not appreciate that? My appreciation is off the chart and half a dozen others.

I know there will be more deaths. Of course there will be. Every season has tremendous loss and the characters, and the audience, have persevered through it all. I get more and more attached to everyone who makes it through and more stressed about when they'll be taken away. But no matter who dies next, and on and on to the end, I can't imagine any character death being more horrifically impactful than what happened here, especially now that the producers have learned this lesson about the way they should never go about it if they want to avoid a huge backlash.

Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus | Image copyright AMC

"Dwight, load him up... He's got guts. Not a little bitch like someone I know. I like him. He's mine now."
—Negan to Rick

Anyone who actually thinks Rick has no guts must have been watching a different show. He tried to stand up. But they were outnumbered and terrorized by a madman with a thirst for cracking skulls with a barbed wire bat? A person can only take so much and anyone who is still defiant in the face of that, after everything, will get everyone killed. Speaking of getting killed, and the backlash earlier, the writers now have more opportunities to mess with Daryl now that Negan has taken him. I imagine Negan will have a sick version of fun while trying to break Daryl.

Christian Serratos, Danai Gurira, Lauren Cohan, Sonequa Martin-Green, Ross Marquand, Andrew Lincoln, Josh McDermitt, and Chandler Riggs | Image copyright AMC

Finally, everyone got a moment to breathe and grieve when Negan and the Saviors left them in their devastation, minus another person. Please let Daryl make it through.

Ross Marquand, Lauren Cohan, and Andrew Lincoln | Image copyright AMC

"Go home. Take everybody with you. I can get there by myself."
—Maggie, telling Rick to get ready to fight

Ross Marquand, Lauren Cohan, and Andrew Lincoln | Image copyright AMC

"I need to go. You need to go to Alexandria... You were out-out here for me."
—Maggie
"We still are."
—Rick
"I can make it now. I need you to go back. I can't have you out here. I can't have you all out here anymore. I need you to go back."
—Maggie

Danai Gurira and Lauren Cohan | Image copyright AMC

"Maggie? We're not letting you go. Okay?"
—Michonne

Sonequa Martin-Green and Laren Cohan | Image copyright AMC

"I'm taking her. I'm gonna get her there. I'm gonna keep her safe."
—Sasha

Ross Marquand | Image copyright AMC

"I need to do this, please."
—Maggie
"We need to help you."
—Aaron

Chandler Riggs and Lauren Cohan | Image copyright AMC

"I got him. I got him."
—Carl
"No."
—Maggie [whispering]

Andrew Lincoln | Image copyright AMC

"Pl-pl-please let us. He-he's our family t-he's our family, too."
—Rick to Maggie

Andrew Lincoln, Ross Marquand, Chandler Riggs, and Lauren Cohan | Image copyright AMC

That was the abbreviated version of this scene. All these still images certainly are powerful on their own, but they can't quite compare to actually watching the complete scene with this insanely talented cast giving their all, so there's another video at the end. If you've read this far, you've already seen it, or should have, but it's always worth watching again. (Jump to video)

And everyone helping to carry Glenn and Abraham. Rick telling Maggie, "he's our family, too," not yet using the past tense, voice cracking, trying to be strong for her but just as broken. Sasha insisting on helping Maggie get to the Hilltop, both of them having just lost people they loved. Aaron and Carl holding Maggie up and trying to comfort her.


Lauren Cohan and Andrew Lincoln | Images copyright AMC

We've come to the end of the episode and I would leave it there, lingering on Maggie all alone between two pools of blood and on Rick's distraught eyes. But I had a few other thoughts, like how it's already been a year since season 7 premiered and divided us, losing part of the audience. I know some are gone for good, like my brothers and cousin, but I hope some cooled off and remembered how much they loved TWD before Abraham and Glenn's deaths. I hope they know that the people in charge apologized, admitted fault, and toned down moments like that in the rest of the season, using more discretion in the editing room.

I hope they understand that The Walking Dead was doing what it has always done in crafting a story full of intensity, terror, terrible inevitability, and gut-wrenching sadness, by putting us right there alongside our survivors and not cutting away. Ill-advised as it was in that moment, they were trying to create this visceral reaction and they did. I hope former fans come to understand it's still the show they fell in love with, and it's now on a new level with revenge on its mind and war just ahead.

The Walking Dead is still a show about people fighting for survival, people we've watched struggle and make it through the worst things imginable, people we love and root for. It's a far cry from having no hope, if that's what anyone thought. I hope they've realized by now that the show has always been about hope, and that hope is all that's left when hope is taken away. It's was a horrifying experience, and the despair afterwards was pervasive, but it wasn't persistent. They crawled their way back. But I'm getting way ahead of myself.

If you read this just because you're curious how things played out, I hope (a word I used a lot in the last few paragraphs) that you were inspired to finish the rest of season 7. Many characters we all love are still alive. They're still pushing on. Some others will still fall. It was never going to be easy. They're fighting for a future, not just for themselves. They are back on their feet and stronger than ever at the end. Season 8 is going to be the opposite of the one I'll be talking about for the next 15 Walking Dead posts. I'm squeamish when it comes to things like this, but The Walking Dead didn't scare me away. It never will. I'm in this for the long haul to see who makes it to the end and how, because these characters, these actors, these ideas and feelings are worth it.

The pinned tweet I was talking about was a link to a few thoughts on the season 7 sneak peek. I also had quite a bit more to say after I watched that year's Comic-Con. Give them a read if you get the chance. And if you want to skip ahead a bit instead of waiting for the rest of these to come in, I also have the mid-season finale Hearts Still Beating.



           



Scenes Mentioned Above


Music by Bear McCreary



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