Home TV Show Recaps The Walking Dead ‘The Walking Dead’ Premiere: Tough watch for The Day Will Come

‘The Walking Dead’ Premiere: Tough watch for The Day Will Come

the walking dead 701 premiere is a tough watch for the day will come 2016 images

'The Walking Dead' Premiere: Tough watch for The Day Will Come 2016 images

The Walking Dead 701 The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be Recap

What does the gruesome season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead have to do with The Art of War? Well, our hero Rick didn’t adhere to these ancient rules of warfare, while Negan played the game just how Sun Tzu would have back in the day.

Negan’s approach:

“Be extremely mysterious even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponent’s fate.”

Rick and company weren’t even sure Negan was a real guy until it was too late. And they certainly didn’t know he had a full-fledged army, once again, until it was too late.

Rick ignored this rule laid out in The Art of War:

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.”

Rick knew his group’s strengths but failed to find out enough about Negan and his clan.

By the way, Abraham is dead. Bashed in the head repeatedly by Lucille. The big man got off one last line after Negan’s first swing, though.

abraham slammed on walking dead by negan lucille

“Suck my nuts,” may not be the grandest of final words, but what else would have fit the moment? There was no way out. Abraham was a military guy, so there was no way he was going out with some poetic goodbye or whimpering.

Either way, he ended up decapitated by a bat. Not a good death.

Oh and Glenn is dead as well. Why two victims, when the message was pretty clear after Abraham got his beatdown? Well, one member of the group couldn’t control himself after Negan’s taunting following his murder of Abraham.

walking dead glenn takes pounding from negan lucille

Daryl is a hot head, but what he thought he would accomplish by punching Negan, I have no idea. The act of defiance caused Maddie to become a widow in an instant.

Actually, it was not an instant. We had to suffer through a long nasty scene that showed Glenn’s eyeball popped out for all his “family” to witness. This Negan is quite the showman.

And by the way, I was gonna clown Chris Hardwick for acting like Steven Yeun and Michael Cudlitz were actually murdered on set. But after seeing Glenn’s ‘Game of Thrones-worthy’ death scene, I was just as solemn as Hardwick as he previewed Talking Dead.

It really was a hard scene to watch. One thing to have a main character whacked after a couple seasons. But we had watched Glenn for the full seven seasons of The Walking Dead.

It was not fun watching Abraham die. But I would have lost no sleep over it.

Having Glenn be the second victim provided the shock factor needed to open season seven. It has set up Negan as the worst villain TWD has seen. Just what was needed.

Making Glenn the innocent victim of Daryl’s defiance made the scene even more impactful. It kinda sucked already knowing that Abraham was going to die first and then Glenn as we reported days before the episode aired, but seeing it happen was just as impactful.

Glenn’s final words:

“Maggie, I will find you.”

Those were perfect words to wrap up Glenn’s role on the show. Short and super sweet.

It was the lone bright spot of humanity in this episode. Maggie could hardly look at her soulmate as he was turned into a barely living zombie by Negan.

Two deaths were not enough of a production for Negan. He still didn’t have the “look” he needed from the group’s leader, Rick. There was still defiance in Grimes even though it was clear, crystal clear; Negan was in charge now.

“I’m gonna kill you. Not today, not tomorrow, but I’m gonna kill you,” Rick told Negan, as we had already seen in the sneak peak last week.

Pretty hollow threat that lead to Rick being dragged into the RV for a short road trip where Negan forced Rick to fetch his hatchet in the midst of Walkers and lots of smoke.

Rick could have used a Monster at this point. Not the one driving the RV, but the energy drink. Rick was gassed, working off no sleep.

Negan felt like his “Vampire Bat” joke should have got a better reaction from Team Grimes. It wasn’t bad in my opinion. But I can see how the survivors, now minus two, were in no mood for laugh tracks.

Rick finally realized he best do what Negan said, so he did fetch the ax.

But it wasn’t until the new leader of this world commanded Rick to chop off Carl’s arm, that Rick became a broken spirit.

Dude was squalling and begging for mercy.

Lucky for Rick, Negan spared Carl once he saw the “look” he needed from Grimes. Full subservience.

As for Carl, he was willing to take one for the team. Kid is tough. And by the way, he was the only one that appeared more angry than sad as the murders took place. He is growing into a character that could eventually take down a guy like Negan.

After Negan’s show was over. He seemed pretty pleased with himself. He’s put on this show before to other groups, and this may have been his finest performance.

He tells Rick and company to be ready to hand over his stuff when they visit the group in a week.

Me, I would get exact details on the offerings he expected. He’s not a guy you want to disappoint.

This season will be full of Negan’s despicable acts of course. And we’ll get to see just how much the surviving members of Team Grimes want to live.

Hard to go on with what they saw happen to members of their family.

This episode reminded me of Dan Carlin recounting a soldier’s journal entry from WWI as he told of the brutal nature of human on human violence. The soldier stated there was no beauty left in the world for him anymore.

It’s hard to imagine them enjoying life after seeing what happened to Abraham and Glenn.

But, of course, the show must go on.

Maybe Rick will use the right tactics moving forward and pick up a copy of The Art of War at the Alexandria Library.

“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”

   ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

the walking dead season 7 premier images

Now The Walking Dead will have several episodes to deal from all this.

walking dead negan

Below are the 5 Biggest Issues Viewers Had with The Walking Dead Season 7 Premiere and what was good about it:

1.  Negan is a cartoon villain.

Probably the biggest problem with the Season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead was the episode’s main star, Negan. The new antagonist is as cruel and wicked as anyone the group has encountered. Unfortunately, in an effort to keep crafting worse and worse villains, the show has fashioned itself a cartoon. Negan is the caricature of a villain, much like Ramsay Snow in Game of Thrones. Both characters exist in worlds defined by shades of grey, in which good people do bad things, and bad people may be the only ones you can rely on.

But Negan’s villainy doesn’t belong in that kind of world. Think back to the Governor. He was a very bad man. He had some deep psychological issues. He did some truly terrible things. But he also provided a safe place for his people in Woodbury. There were glimmers of humanity in him, like the fact that he kept his zombie daughter rather than letting her go. For all his wickedness, he was still human. There was even a time when you thought he might find redemption, until he threw that all away.

Negan exhibits none of these qualities. He’s pure evil. And he monologues like a cartoon villain, too, going on and on and on about how he’s in charge. In some ways he’s more obnoxious than scary. Whereas the Governor was ominous and unpredictable, and the Termites were a surprise band of cannibals, and the main Wolf was really creepy, Negan is just…a guy with a bat in charge of an army who loves the sound of his own voice.

None of this is helped by the fact that Jeffrey Dean Morgan seems awkward in the role. He simply doesn’t strike me as the terrifying leader the show is trying to cast him as—even after he smashed in the heads of two of our heroes. I never thought to myself, “Wow this guy is scary.” Indeed, I could never quite understand why Rick didn’t take a stab at him when he had all those chances. Rick is a battle-hardened killer; nothing about Negan suggested to me that he’d win in a fight.

I’ve been re-watching Breaking Bad, and recently watched the tense, wonderful episodes with Tuco. That’s how I wish Negan was: Crazy, unpredictable, with a precariously short fuse. Every moment with Tuco on screen is tense and frightening; not so with Negan.

2. The violence was over-the-top, even for The Walking Dead

When I discussed how over-the-top and disgusting the violence in this episode was, a lot of people quickly pointed out that the scene in the comics is violent, too. Some people mocked me, saying that obviously I wasn’t as thick-skinned as I suggested if the violence on display here bugged me so much.

Well, first of all, there’s a big difference between illustrations of violence in a comic and actually seeing it on live-action TV. Second, I can stomach it just fine. I’m just not sure it’s something I want to stomach. It’s not the first time I’ve felt this way. When such-and-such was killed in the revolving door, zombies peeled the side of his face off. It was gratuitous, unpleasant, less frightening and nauseating. I know I’m not alone in thinking there are some lines better left uncrossed. Watching Glenn’s eye bulge from his face as he was smashed over the skull by a barbed-wire wrapped bat over and over again was a line for me.

Worse, it was the kind of death that put all the focus on the gore and on the shock value rather than on the loss of a beloved character. Glenn’s fake death in Season 6 was far more powerful and profound, in large part because it was unexpected and the gory details weren’t shown. (Of course, it turned out to be fake, but that’s beside the point.)

rick grimes hanging from zomie neck walking dead

3. It should have been the season 6 finale, or at least broken up better.

Making audiences wait for six months to find out who died was a dirty trick and poor storytelling. There’s no two ways about this. The season 6 finale would have been far more powerful and effective had it simply been combined with this episode.

Instead, both last season’s finale and this season’s premiere were marred by filler and the best, or at least most dramatic, moments were chopped up into two distinct halves. Some may call this sort of cheap cliff-hanger effective storytelling. I think that in many ways it ruined what would have otherwise been a really tremendous scene.

Rather than spend so much time corralling the heroes up in the season 6 finale—while never answering why it was better to take Maggie to the doctor rather than the other way around—and then spending most of this episode with Negan and Rick one-on-one, the show could have simply cut the filler from both and combined the two. That would have been one incredible episode rather than two frustrating, incomplete episodes.

In our latest podcast, Paul had a great idea that’s a bit different from this: End season 6 with the killing of Abraham. Nobody would have been waiting or speculating about who died in Season 7. We would have all thought we knew. Then start Season 7 off with the rest of what we just got—Rick’s breaking, Glenn’s death, Carl’s near haircut. Or…uh…arm chopping.

4. Bad writing and consistency errors.

Negan isn’t just a cartoon villain because he’s super evil and one-dimensional; he’s also a cartoon villain because of the lines he spouts. “Eeny meeny miny meo” last season was bad enough. This time around he guffaws and chuckles and monologues, and a bunch of it is taken straight from the comics.

Sometimes it’s okay to change stuff from the comics, when the source material is this cheesy.

To some extent, it’s just that he says too much. He talks and talks and talks while we wait around for the good stuff. At other times, he just sounds really stupid.

Meanwhile, other characters aren’t given much better treatment.

Rick saying “I’ll kill you” right after two of his friends were killed seems utterly absurd. Even stubborn Rick would realize that such defiance would only get more people he loved killed.

Other little things didn’t make sense. Why not kill Daryl when he’s the one who punched Negan? Why did Daryl lose his cool like that to begin with? Even the somewhat touching scene at the end felt a bit melodramatic. Maggie has no reason to go on alone, and it makes little sense for her to request that.

Also, how did the ax get up on the roof of the trailer before Rick did? Maybe Negan tossed it up there, but it sure looked like he tossed it out into the zombie horde. Whatever the case, this was some weird direction that I (and many others) found confusing.

 5. Glenn deserved better.

I think a lot of these issues might not have been such a big deal if Glenn had a better death. I know, I know. “It’s in the comics!” I know that. I get it. I understand that factually, this is the case.

First of all, I don’t think being in the comics means it’s okay television. Sometimes adaptations require changes simply to make something in a book or a graphic novel work better on screen. This is one such time.

The real issue is two-fold.

First, they fake-killed Glenn last season, which made his real death fell both cheaper and crueler. They should have fake-killed Daryl instead. The whole thing has left me and many other viewers with very negative feelings about being tricked in a pretty lame way.

Second, Glenn didn’t have any screen time before his death, and he deserved that time. Tyreese got pretty much an entire episode to die. We got to spend time with him before his death. And he’s never been as central or beloved  a character as Glenn. No other character in this show has, simply because Glenn was one of the very first characters and he’s lasted the longest. Most other season one characters that have passed, did so a few seasons ago.

So I think Glenn deserved a better send-off even if he was going to die in such a gruesome way. And audiences deserved better treatment with the whole fake-out last season, followed by this real death now. The entire thing was badly mishandled and botched.

Okay, now what the episode did right.

The season 7 premiere did get some things right. Most notably, it broke Rick, changing him from badass leader into Negan’s creature and fully illustrating just how out-gunned and out-smarted our heroes are. In this sense, the episode did a great job setting really desperate stakes for the survivors, and that in turn has left me both cautiously optimistic about the coming conflict, and really dying to know what comes next. How will they possibly ever fight back against such overwhelming odds?

Finally, the episode got our attention. If nothing else it swaggered onto the scene like Negan himself, swinging its bloody bat right in our collective faces and said “The Walking Dead is back, baby, and there’s nothing you can do about it!” That’s a triumph in its own right and I can’t deny how effective this episode was in terms of locking in our attention and leaving us wanting more. If nothing else, I want revenge and I want it badly.

So sure, lots of problems and I have plenty of concerns for the rest of the season, not the least of which is whether Negan will turn out to be a great villain or just a mediocre villain who we’re supposed to think is a great villain. But I’m still hopeful that a focused conflict against a much more powerful enemy will ultimately be a good thing for the show.