After all of these months, what we speculated for so long turned out to be true: Negan would have easily broken the Chicago Cubs' World Series curse with that swing of his.
For the past few years, The Walking Dead has sadly alternated on good season intros and bad season intros; both the openings of Seasons 3 and 5 were awesome, with Season 5's "No Sanctuary" among most people's top five episodes list. The premiere episodes of Seasons 4 and 6, however, were less than stellar, and with expectations understandably high following last year's cliffhanger, the No. 1 show on television needed to return on Sunday night with a home run intro.
Did I say home run? Hell, I'd say "The Day Will Come Where You Won't Be" hit a perfect grand slam out of the park, kicking off what could potentially be the bloodiest, darkest season in the show's history - and arc of the entire franchise to this date. In fact, I'm not even going to call this episode 'The Day Will Come Where You Won't Be," but instead, "The Karmic Circle Comes Back To Utterly Break The Idiocy Of Team Family."
At this time, I have to put this out there: MAJOR, MAJOR SPOILER WARNING, as will be the case for all of my reviews. If you've missed the episode and don't want to read before you see what happened, pause here and go find a stream or watch it On Demand. Cool? Cool.
The true story of "The Day Will Come Where You Won't Be" isn't Abraham telling Negan to "suck his nuts" before literally losing his mind, nor is it Glenn being rendered brain-dead after Negan chose him as the true victim of the Season 7 premiere, but is instead the failures of Rick Grimes. What we saw tonight was not only the full on breaking of Rick Grimes but a hint of the man he was prior to the zombie apocalypse; the one that Lori so openly complained about, the one that Shane mocked even weeks back into Rick's return from a coma. I'm not going to say that Rick put a facade up from Season 3 to now (except for the farmer gig he had to start Season 4), but everything he did - attacking Woodbury, nearly killing Morgan in King County, killing Joe and the Claimers with sheer brutality, hacking Gareth to death in a church - that turned him into a darker, arguably evil survivor was destroyed all by one man.
Could you have expected that we'd see Rick legitimately cry, even worse than how he did when Lori died? Would you have imagined Rick, the man so many fans claim they'd want to be like in an apocalypse, laying on top of an RV - in a similar position to how he was in the tank during the pilot - letting all that's happened consume him and shatter what he put up all thanks to Negan?
Well, Rick, I love you but you did all of this to yourself. For years, Rick has always been strategic, always tried to play the best card he possibly could...and he tries to kill Negan when the man taunts him to. Why? Was it cockiness, the same cockiness that made him taunt the Saviors when he had a vulnerable pregnant woman and a handicapped boy with him? Was it because Rick has somehow convinced himself that everything he does is always going to be right because of his somehow good luck when he does that?
Everyone you've looked to as a confidant - Michonne, Hershel, Daryl, Glenn, Abraham, even Carl - would have told him to play his cards right and to think, so why let anger dominate you in an enemy camp with all of your loved ones still at risk? I love me some Rick Grimes but man, what an idiot...
I get it: Negan is the big bad, Negan has all the power, and Negan can bash your brains in the same way he did Abraham and Glenn, but what are you doing, Rick? At least Rick understood it in the end, even as he talked to Negan like a sorority girl doing a speech in a public speaking class and realizing she can't just use her looks to pass. The fact that Rick, who about four or so months ago in canon time totally eviscerated a man to death for trying to rape Carl yet nearly went through with cutting the boy's arm off all because Negan demanded it...that may have potentially been more scary than the Lucille kills itself.
Watching Rick cry in an excellent, absolutely jaw-dropping performance by Andrew Lincoln, further proved the point home of how broken he is all because of his own ignorance. I've long supported Rick and admired what he's done to keep his people alive and as close to human beings as they can be instead of becoming full-fledged evil like the Saviors or cannibals like the Termites, but you screwed your people, Rick. Bowing down to the Saviors early would have been stupid, yes, but it was how you handled things after the initial raid on their one camp that has landed you and your people in a place worse than Hell: Pee Pee Pants City.
Also joining the idiot circle is Daryl, who also let anger fuel him. How stupid do you have to be to punch the man who just totally destroyed a man's skull with his baseball bat in the face? Congrats, Daryl, you're responsible for Glenn's death because you let yourself become the one thing you've tried for so long to avoid going back to: a Dixon. That's what Will and Merle would have done, buddy, instead of backing down and figuring out how to make this guy suffer and pay for what he's done.
Daryl, seriously, what does punching Negan do? Did you think that if you did that, maybe Negan would just kill you instead; but if that was the case, then why not leap at him before he picked who he was going to Lucille someone? How stupid is Daryl? I genuinely want to know who you guys think was more foolish tonight: Daryl or Rick, because it's really a tough choice. Me? I'm taking Rick because, for as stupid as what Daryl did was, not even him getting Glenn killed rivals the actions Rick made tonight.
At the end, Rick finally got the message: keep your mouth shut, listen to what Negan wants for now, and plot about how you're going to make what you did to Joe and the Claimers look tame when you're done with Ole Negan.
I guess we may as well just answer the question if the cliffhanger was worth it because my answer may surprise you: yes...if it had been done to where the second victim was picked at the end of the Season 6 finale and Abraham got his face bashed in before then. What I would have done in hindsight is, yes, show the Abraham death, Daryl and everyone getting pissed, and the screen cutting to black with Glenn starting at Lucille in front of his eyes. By doing that, you not only set up a true cliffhanger if Negan is actually going to do it or not (spoilers would show he would, though it still works as a cliffhanger), but you give fans the satisfaction - and horror - of watching a main character die by a main villain.
Abraham's death worked, as did Glenn's, but this will be forever haunted by the storytelling aspect and the pacing of it that led to the summer of spoilers. And, in canon, Glenn and Abraham's deaths will be forever haunted by the stupidity of Team Family's main two leaders. Thanks, guys!
And now, time for some things to note.
- Rarely does The Walking Dead ever disappoint when it comes to cinematography and shots, and tonight was no exception. The shots of Abraham and Glenn's heads after the beatings...oh my goodness. I had to actually ask myself if I should use one of those instead of the shot of Rick staring Negan down for the body pictures because of how graphically awesome they were.
- Steven Ogg excels at Simon, but did you know that the name Simon was actually Trevor Phillips' beta name in Grand Theft Auto V- the same game that propelled Ogg into stardom?
- Jeffrey Dean Morgan is having a hell of a time as Negan and it's actually terrifying how well he acts. Lauren Cohan was amazing as Maggie too, crying and moaning for Daryl despite being unable to form coherent words. If that baby comes out alive and close to on time, then that is absolutely amazing with the stress this poor woman just went through.
- "Suck my nuts." Abraham, you may have been divided among fans, but your last words signified how awesome you are.
- No new intro, breaking a previous trend that we'd get a new season every two seasons (1/2 -> 3/4 -> 5/6) so we still have the intro from the past two years. It's nothing major and I love the scenery used in this one, but the lack of a new one was surprising. No walls of Alexandria, no Lucille covered in blood, no Saviors compound - just the same old sights since 2014. Very interesting...we'll see if this was a one-time thing and they're planning to start a new intro come episode 2, but I'm somehow doubting it.
- "I'm not in charge anymore. Negan is." Ah crap...
- Tonight's title: "The Day Will Come Where You Won't Be" refers to a quote by Dr. Edwin Jenner in Season 1, where he tells that to Rick after the former cop says he's grateful for the chance given to escape the soon-to-explode CDC. Considering how far many have gone to distance themselves from the CDC episodes, both with Kirkman and the writing staff (ever notice no one called Eugene out on his lie by saying the CDC said there was no hope?), it's a nice touch - and a nice way of thanking longtime fans for the support.
Next week, in "The Well," all we know is that Morgan and Carol are at The Kingdom and Carol's in a wheelchair. AMC was kind enough to post a preview on their Story Sync and YouTube channel, so you'll get all of those in our reviews as well.
[Featured Image by AMC]