The Walking Dead SN7 EP01-‘The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be’

A brutal and relentless season premiere saw the show enter a frightening new era.

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It’s taken me several days to work up to writing this review. Maybe some part of that has to do with the fact that a lack of internet means I haven’t been able to post it, but for the most part it’s taken me several days to start writing this because I am only just getting over the trauma. Had I written this immediately after watching the episode as I so often do, you’d just be looking at an incoherent mess of words. Of course you could still be doing that, but I like to think my writing’s not that bad. In all seriousness it actually took me some time to process what I had watched. Months of build-up and hype was due to culminate in one mind-blowing episode, and boy did it succeed.

Before the episode aired there had been rumours that more than one fan favourite was set to die. Given the show’s history, going by the comic obviously wasn’t a guarantee, but this was a moment where diverging from the comics would delay or prevent growth in several key characters. Of course this is mainly because of poor old pizza delivery boy Glenn. When he died at this point in the comics, it pushed Maggie that last step further to becoming a leader. After being such an integral part of the group for so long, losing him rocks the group to their core, and this was very apparent through the episode. Sadly, he wasn’t the only one to die, with everyone’s favourite wisecracking, moustachioed soldier Abraham falling victim to the cruel game of ‘eeny meanie miney moe’. At least he managed to live a tiny bit longer than his comic book counterpart.

The question is though, what did this episode achieve apart from sending about 20 million viewers to therapy? Well its main purpose was to sell Negan and the Saviours as a proper threat to the group, and in that regard I think we can say it succeeded. The entire episode was one long screwed up mind game by Negan, as with each passing moment, each brutal bludgeoning of a beloved member of the group, he crushed our heroes emotionally and psychologically. It all transferred over to the viewer as well. The performances on display this episode were spectacular, and you really felt everyone’s pain. This was doubly impressive as much of the cast didn’t have a word to say. What they did with body language and facial expressions conveyed more than any word ever could. The emotion was raw and varied, as each actor gave it their all and truly sold the fear and devastation caused by Negan.

Whilst this episode was big on emotional devastation, it was also big on sheer gore and brutality. When Negan came along with his barbed wire baseball bat, it was clear someone was going to die in a very brutal way, but I don’t think anyone was ready for just how sickeningly horrifying it would be. Images of Abraham and Glenn’s mushed up heads lingered in my mind for days after, but it was during Glenn’s heart wrenching final moments that the gore really reached a whole new level. Seeing Glenn with a half caved in head, eyeball popped out, gargling his last words to Maggie through a stream of blood was in all honesty difficult to watch. This is a character, a person we’ve seen grow over the course of six seasons, to the point where you feel connected to him, so to watch him die like that wasn’t easy, however it was certainly necessary. Selling Negan as threat wouldn’t have worked if only the characters saw the full extent of what he did to Abraham and Glenn, the audience had to see it too.

Outside of the deaths, the rest of the runtime essentially boiled down to Negan tormenting the group and making sure they knew exactly who was in charge. Given there had already been one more death than expected, the episode remained tense as it remained unclear whether more tragedy would follow suit, which led us into another difficult to watch scene, as Negan told Rick to cut off Carl’s hand or watch everyone die. Andrew Lincoln’s performance during this scene was phenomenal, as we saw Rick finally knocked off his pedestal. It was aided by the fact that the episode had already taken some surprising turns, so it was immensely believable that Rick would actually cut off the hand. Whilst Negan spared the group of one more tragedy in the end, it was hardly cause for celebration. The episode ended with the now much weaker group minus three members as Daryl was carted off, and like the audience, emotionally drained. Watching everyone struggle to process what had happened was a harrowing end to a harrowing episode, that will no doubt be marked as the darkest in The Walking Dead’s history.

Of course there was a lot happening amongst all that tragedy, so other notable highlights include:

  • Abraham’s death, whilst likely overshadowed by Glenn’s, still saw him go out in true Abraham style. His parting words of “Suck my nuts” to Negan gave us one last quip from the hero, whilst his subtle hand signal to Sasha was one of the most powerfully emotional moments of the episode.

  • Both Glenn and Abraham thought of others at their time of death, both seeking to console their loved ones in some way, and it spoke to the true nature of these true characters. Both of them were introduced to the show helping others, Glenn saving Rick, and Abraham seemingly saving the whole world, so it was fitting for them to go out in the same style. Still, I don’t think I’ll ever get over Glenn gargling out “Maggie I’ll find you” as that was just too sad.

  • The walker fog sequence was a visually cool addition to the episode, but it slightly felt like they had to shove some walker action in the episode somewhere, and that was why it was there. Still, it further cemented how sadistic Negan is.

  • Daryl was like an animal when being carted away. It seems he’ll have a significant story at the Sanctuary this season, where he’ll no doubt be carrying some guilt over Glenn’s death.

  • Out of everything, the most heart-breaking scene in the whole episode wasn’t the deaths. Nor was it the reactions afterwards. No, the award for most heart-breaking scene of the episode goes to the Sunday dinner scene. Seeing everyone happy and healthy, Glenn and Abraham alive and well, Glenn with his kid, was one of the saddest things. I found myself thinking in the moment that that’s the show I want to watch. I just want to be happy for a change.

So The Walking Dead started its 7th Season with one of TV’s most brutal and devastating episodes ever. The loss of Glenn and Abraham will be something that resonates on the show most definitely for the rest of this season, and likely for the remainder of the show’s lifespan. Negan and the Saviours have been solidified as a true threat, and the group is now at their lowest point yet. With Glenn and Abraham dead, Daryl carted off by the Saviours, Maggie and Sasha headed to Hilltop and the rest making an emotional journey back to Alexandria, the group is seemingly more fractured now than ever before. Surely it can only get better from here?

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