The Walking Dead S7E1 “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be”

*Spoilers Ahead*

If there is one thing The Walking Dead loves, more than the violence or the idea that humans are the real monsters in this apocalypse, it’s making viewers wait. It’s something that can be traced all the way back to season 2 and how long the show waited to get us off that god awful farm but it reached something of an apex this past season.

I’m not solely talking about the finale here, although that is why I bring it up, whether it’s because of having so many characters to juggle or that writing 16 episodes in a season is daunting for a cable TV show, the show has repeatedly gone to the well of spending the episodes in-between it’s mid-season premieres and breaks spending time with a select group of characters. It worked out well for the show when it first started but by the time last season rolled around it was already becoming trite and that was before they started getting cute with it.

Even ignoring the eventual fate he meets in this episode, teasing out Glenn’s possible death last year and then waiting three weeks before showing us how he survived was a poor choice because it has no narrative justification other than to insure the viewing audience stays put while you fiddle around with your other characters. Still, you could justify it. Perhaps it was an attempt to show us how these characters would react when they think one of their own, someone they, and the audience, has known the longest is gone. After this episode, however, I’m convinced that wasn’t the goal.

The ultimate goal was to make you think Glenn was safe so that you wouldn’t expect his death. That might be the ultimate issue I have with “The Day Will Come,” it’s an episode that feel constructed not to further a story or build up a new threat, although it does those things, it’s an episode meant to further play with fan’s expectations. We’re expecting one death so instead we get two, we’re expecting to see the deaths happen first thing but instead we see the aftermath first.

Abraham and Glenn are murdered, brutally, by Negan but before we see it we spend the first half of this episode on Andrew Lincoln trying his best to wring a different type of the same emotion he’s had to display constantly on this show, despair. Despair permeates the show, and it should given the premise, but it shouldn’t do so so needlessly. Perhaps that’s why Negan stands out among everyone else.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan does a fantastic job showing Negan as a man who revels in the despair he brings and it’s oddly exciting to see a character who is having fun, even if that fun results in brutal massacre and twisted mind games to insure people’s servitude. We’ll have to wait and see if there are any layers to this insane masochist but Morgan remains the sole bright spot in a dismal episode.

If it seems like I talked too much about things that happened in other episodes I apologize but this was, yet another, episode where not much actually happened considering the run time. Negan kills Abraham and Glenn and then forces Rick to serve him. That’s pretty much it, sure, there’s a bit more in the actual episode but that’s the main story, that’s all that happens. Because for the writers on The Walking Dead it’s not about the story or where the characters are heading, because they all will die eventually, it’s about what they can do to keep you coming back and that’s the real threat moving forward.

Bits ‘n Pieces

  • Oh, I forgot that Negan and his men take Daryl too, so look forward to the episode that is just Daryl in whatever stronghold Negan lives in.
  • I enjoyed Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s portrayal of Negan but I can already see the character becoming a cartoon if the writers aren’t careful with him.
  • I think I’ve taken apart the show enough this week but that dinner fantasy was the stupidest attempt at emotional manipulation I’ve ever seen them perform.

Jesse Swanson is a would-be writer, podcaster and funny guy who covers TV shows of all shapes and sizes. You can find him on Twitter @JesseSwanson