Hello and welcome to “Gut Check: The Walking Dead” where I spout off at the mouth about the most recent episode as soon as it is done airing. No thought, no research just the feeling in the moment. Let’s begin.
Tonight on The Walking Dead: Waiting… Waiting… Waiting…
The Walking Dead
The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be
Well, season 6 ended with a dull, wet thud. A 90 minute episode that was almost entirely killing time before the big unsatisfying cliff hanger at the end. How did season 7 start? With delaying the cliff hanger 20 more minutes, that is how.
So who got to have that make-out session with Lucille? Big Red himself, Abraham. Which was expected if you follow along with the Walking Dead formula. Abe was kind of a hollow character for most of his run. He was funny, and a hard-ass, but that was about it. Last season they ramped up his character development and gave him more to do. That is pretty much a sure sign that character is dying. I am just glad he went out with an Abrahamism and he was never beaten. Unlike everyone else, he never slouched. He went out a champion: defiant to the very end.
The only real issue with Abraham dying; it wasn’t enough. He still wasn’t well liked enough or important enough to make the impact that Negan needed. It was obvious more was coming. There had to be more blood. We needed a victim, and Daryl was more than happy enough to help Negan out. After the biker man took a swing at Negan, the foul mouth antagonist decided he needed to put an exclamation point on his already, rather loud, statement.
Lucille (being shaped very similarly to an exclamation point, no less) was then introduced very intimately not to Daryl, but rather to Mr. Glenn Rhee, recreating the scene everyone expected to see from the comic books. So we got a death that mattered more, but felt kind of off, like it was just there to line up with the source material and make it more impactful than just losing Mr. Ford. The other issue with it being that after Glenn dodged death so many times last season that taking him now and expecting you to feel as much as you could have didn’t feel earned. Losing Glenn, we lost the closest to an audience surrogate as we had, now it may be harder to connect for many fans.
Other than that, the episode centered on Rick and Negan’s road trip from hell. We kept getting teases of Rick losing his hand in order to calm him, as Abraham and Glenn’s death still left that rebellious spirit in his eyes. Negan knew that wouldn’t do it though, rather it could make Rick more dangerous, no, to tame the savage Grimes he needed something more sinister. So he made a big production over having Rick cut off Carl’s hand instead, but he never went through with it. After everything else the episode went through it just felt kind of needless.
There was some very good parts as well. The Negan scenes were shot exceptionally well, and most of the acting was well done (aside from Maggie and Rick’s grief, it seems Andrew Lincoln and Lauren Cohan struggled with their accents in those extreme moments.) Rick swinging from the bridge walker was a fantastic visual.
Overall, however, it felt poorly paced and out of order, and a bit like torture porn. It wasn’t slow for pacing, it was slow as a delaying tactic, and sadly that method seems to be in the show’s DNA at this point. Season 5 really suffered from it as well. The gore and tension were over the top and left you numb, and not in the way good horror can do.
If the episode was paced better, and there was some story reordering it could have worked. Have Glenn killed right away, no 20 minute wait, then go about messing with the crew, it doesn’t feel as hollow. Then Abraham, who has already been defiant to the point Negan wants to break him, makes the move on Negan instead of Daryl. Negan now knows Abraham cannot be broken so he kills him. All of the fun with the hand cutting can be saved for Rick showing some sign of rebellion, maybe in front of all of Alexandria so they can see their leader broken. There were ways for this to run more smoothly and to feel better, sadly they tried to have 3 big moments and a lot of filler.
We had 6 months to imagine who died and how, making the final outcome have less impact. Maybe it is time to stop trying to shock audiences and time to go back to telling a compelling story.