The Walking Dead – S7:E1 “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be”

Sunday finally brought the long-awaited season 7 premiere of AMC’s The Walking Dead. The season 6 finale gave fans the biggest bad of the series in Negan, but also delivered a cliff-hanger regarding the death of a major cast member. This play left a bad taste in the mouths of those who have stood by the show’s side through good and bad, as well as those who continue to hate-watch. Executive producers promised a satisfying payoff in the premiere.

By now, everyone knows we lost two beloved cast members. Surprising? Only if you live under a rock without access to the internet.

The premiere starts off after the big kill. That’s not exactly where we left off in April. Negan taunts Rick and tries to assert his power. Rick says very little and, although he feels the loss, he continues to be somewhat defiant. It isn’t until nearly 30 minutes in when we finally get what we came for.

The majority of the episode’s run time dealt with Negan trying to break Rick. A series of quick cut flashbacks slowly divulge the POV from the end of the season 6 finale. It was Abraham’s. Barrel chested and gutsy right to the end, he even gets one last signature Abraham verbal shot in at Negan, “Suck my nuts.” Then, just when we think we’ve seen the worst, Negan turns on his heel and kills the heart and soul of the show (yes, I said it), Glenn Rhee.

With Rick broken and two family members dead, the rest of the group tries to put the pieces back together as quickly as possible. Maggie, who has probably lost more than any other character, declares war on Negan and then sets to getting her husband home, with Rick, Carl and Aaron supporting her. Sasha and Rosita put aside their differences and come together over their love of Abraham.

The deaths, while gruesome and somewhat overwhelming, were not entirely unexpected. Abraham’s story had run its course and even actor Michael Cudlitz said he knew his character was on borrowed time. Glenn dies by the bat in the comic and he’s had so many close calls, not killing him would have been a cop out on the part of the creators.

Was this the satisfying conclusion fans were hoping for? The general consensus seems to be no. Could the episode still have had any shock factor if the audience knew who died at the end of the episode? Absolutely. Since there were two significant kills, with the least impactful being Abraham, why not show that death in the finale? That would actually make Glenn’s death in the premiere even more traumatic.

This is, perhaps, one of the most brutal episodes of the entire series and it’s been a hot-button topic since the episode ended, but let’s be honest, horror fans have seen far worse and viewers have the option of shutting it off or not watching at all.

With only a few days remaining before the second episode, people are still talking about it so whether you loved it or hated it, it certainly made an impact. Kind of like a bat to the face.

Final comments/questions:

  • We get it, Negan is a formidable foe, but the constant barrage of sardonic displays of power and the sexual euphemisms about Lucille will get old really quick. Tone that shit down.
  • Did everyone notice Abraham’s final declaration of love to Sasha? It was brief, but it melts your heart.
  • What is the significance of Glenn’s final statement to Maggie? Does this mean we’ll see Glenn again, maybe when the baby is born or when Rick has tough decisions to make?
  • Negan takes Daryl, knowing he’s valuable to Rick and Alexandria. Will Daryl submit or bide his time? This will probably be the most interesting development since Daryl doesn’t exist in the comics and we have no source to refer to.
  • Carl finally grew a pair and acted like the man he’s been claiming to be since second season.
  • Kudos to the entire cast for their performances, especially Andrew Lincoln.
  • Last season Glenn was looking at the Polaroids of bashed in skulls at the compound. At the end of the episode, you see a guy in the background taking a picture of the damage done to Glenn. The signs are always there.
  • The fuck with that Thanksgiving dinner scene?
  • Seriously, what is Dwight’s damage?

Next week we hook back up with the Oscar and Felix of the zombie apocalypse, Carol and Morgan, as they enter The Kingdom.

Fear The Walking Dead: Pilot


Finally!  Zombies to hold us over until more zombies arrive!  I mean, I guess you could always watch Night of the Living Dead during the summer or something, but that probably doesn’t happen in most households.  It’s okay.  We can still be friends.  As long as you don’t love Survival of the Dead.  Then we might have a problem.

Remember how the first episode of The Walking Dead kicked off with about 10 minutes of Rick being a sheriff and getting shot, then waking up from a coma to find the world had gone to hell?  Take that 10 minutes of nothing, stretch it out over 65 minutes, and you have the first episode of Fear The Walking Dead.  I’m not saying it was a total waste of time, but I am saying that it looks like we’re going to have to be patient if we want any action.  We did get a bit of payoff at the end, so perhaps that’s a sign of better things to come.

This entire episode hinges on whether or not you connect with the family.  I did not.  I liked Madison pretty well, but I can’t tell if I actually liked her character or if I just really liked her on Deadwood.  Probably the latter.  Travis was fine, if a bit bland.  Alicia is the perfect, boring, too-good-for-this-place-I-need-to-get-out daughter, while Nick fills the role of the family screw-up, who manages to have the best abs of any heroin addict I have ever seen.  Nick gets a lot of face time in this episode and is asked to carry some pretty dramatic scenes, but he just can’t quite pull it off.  Every time he started talking about his life, my eyes glazed over.

Heroin dens are great places to do stomach crunches.
Heroin dens are great places to do stomach crunches.

And then there is Tobias, who is clearly a 30 year old high school student.  He’s the first one who knows that something is amiss.  He says “zombies” without actually saying it.  And what does he do?  Why, he shows up at high school – a high school with a metal detector at the entrance – with a paring knife.  A paring knife.  What was the plan there?  The best case scenario is exactly what happened: a concerned teacher pulls you aside, confiscates the knife and releases you into the school.  So now you’re knifeless in the school while a zombie threat shambles ever closer.  The worst case scenario is that the knife is confiscated and you are either arrested or released into the world, sans knife.  Now you’re out in the open with no weapons and a zombie horde on the horizon.  It’s a lose-lose situation.  If he knew zombies were coming, he would have grabbed a baseball bat, crowbar, machete and a bunch of canned food and run for the hills (or whatever).  Get out of L.A.  Don’t walk into school with a tiny knife.  The only person that benefits from that is the zombie, who will laugh his terrible laugh as your knife doesn’t come closer to penetrating the skull.

"I have to go now and do my taxes...I mean, study school things? Yes. Study school things."
“I have to go now and do my taxes…I mean, study school things? Yes. Study school things.”

Let’s talk zombie outbreak for a second.  I figure the entire first episode covers a minimum of two days.  During that time, we know that the zombies are among us.  We know a couple zombies escaped from the church.  We also know – both from The Walking Dead and from Calvin at the end of this episode – that everyone is infected.  If you die, you come back as a zombie.
Now that we’ve got that established…
The population of Los Angeles currently sits a little below 4 million people.  On an average day, roughly 170 people die.  That’s 340 over two days (not factoring in the fact that zombies would cause more deaths than that).  Congratulations!  You now have 340 zombies that no one knows about.  Once the apocalypse starts, it will roll over a big city like a tidal wave.  The fact that we know there are at least a few zombies on the loose means it’s not confined to just one part of the city.  I have a hard time believing that there are just a couple random attacks, only one of which has been filmed so far.  Large portions of the city would likely already be thrown into chaos.  (According to a simulation run on Zombietown USA, Los Angeles would be more or less overrun within 48 hours.)
For the record, the reason Rick was able to wake up alive is because the population of Cynthiana, KY is only a little over 6,000.  The fewer people in a town, the fewer zombies there are.  Come to Kentucky. Survive the zombie apocalypse.  But not too many of you.  I don’t need you blowing up my spot.

But I assume L.A. will soon be overrun, so we can all be thankful for that.

I'm really looking forward to Fear The Benny & Joon.
I’m really looking forward to Fear The Benny & Joon.

Random thoughts:

– Loved the blood on the piano in the opening scene.  Seemed like something Neko Case would write a beautiful song on.

– The “I just threw up in my mouth a little,” joke has run its course.  The delivery here was particularly painful.

– “If there’s a problem, we would know about it.  The authorities would tell us.”  We all know that authorities would give the zombie outbreak an unfamiliar disease name (like, say, SARS) and cover it up as quickly as possible.

– I admire Travis’ bravery in going into a dark heroin den by himself, but I condemn his stupidity.  He took no weapons.  He yelled, “Is anyone there,” after he already saw blood.  Tense scene, but driven by the bad decisions of a character.  (I don’t really admire his bravery.)

– “[Jack] London tries to teach us how not to die.”  It’s like someone slapping you in the face.  “Survival.  Get it?!  Cuz zombies?!  And literature?!  It’s smart.  We’re smart.”

"Did you get it?  That guy got it."
“Did you get it? That guy got it.”

– There is not a chance in hell that a nurse would ever untie a patient’s restraint.  “Well, he said he had to pee really bad and I felt bad for him.  It’s not like I thought he could actually free his other hand in the process.  How would I know that?”

The Walking Dead S5E8, “Coda”

Season 5 Poster

I totally missed writing up last week’s episode and I’m ridiculously late with this one.  Sorry guys.  Other responsibilities took me away from this one.

We’re now at the midseason break.  Can we talk about how obnoxious that is?  I feel like we just got going, and now we have to wait until February for new episodes.  For their part, I understand it.  It breaks up the shooting schedule, and also allows them to double-up on a TV writer’s favorite activity: cliffhangers!  Oh man, they love cliffhangers.  Instead of just getting one at the end of a season, you can now get two!  It’s like having two Christmases!  Before long, shows will be broken up into 4 episode runs with a cliffhanger at the end of each one.  TV shows will run constantly: a month on, a month off, and they will run all year.  I’m tired just thinking about it.
There will be no escape from our new TV overlords.  Oh sure, we can try to get away, but, in the end, we’ll have our back broken by a car and get our heads blown off while the undead watch.  There are certainly worse ways to die, but that’s not exactly a noble death.

1. Nothing came of it, but Rick jumping in the police car and not checking the backseat seemed foolish.  I kept waiting for something – a zombie, another cop, etc. – to pop out at him.  Zombies and murderous people are everywhere.  Check the backseat, fella.  Stuttering Brad Dourif isn’t around to warn you, so you’ll just have to remember to do it all by yourself.

2. Sure, Maggie was happy when she found out Beth was still alive.  But where has that emotion been?  She hasn’t acknowledged the Beth even existed since she went missing.  I suppose this is the result of losing so many people; you’re just numb to death after a while.  What point is there in hoping that your missing family member will be found, when it’s much more likely that they’re zombie food?  I get it, but I also find it odd that Maggie never even mentioned her sister.  With her breakdown at the end of this episode, I guess we know we can prepare ourselves for a lot more of the Maggie Questions Her Faith subplot that ran throughout this season.

3. Why do people with guns always stand so close to those without guns?  “Hey.  You.  Guy in the hallway questioning my authority.  I’m going to point this gun at you, but allow you to get within an arm’s length of me, because I trust you won’t knock the gun out of my hand.  Deal?”  It’s not just this show: it’s all shows and movies.  Add this to my list of gun-related pet peeves.

4. All the talk between Tyreese and Sasha about not being the same as they were when they were kids.  That was a long conversation, and it meant absolutely nothing.  A lot of dialogue-driven shows have these scenes: the conversations that sound deep, but are really just inane chatter.  It’s faux philosophy, and it drives me crazy.

5. Beth finding herself with a brief opening to attack Dawn, and using it to stab Dawn in the chest.  Dawn was wearing a vest.  Go for the neck. Beth.  Maybe she didn’t want to kill Dawn, but she had to assume that stabbing Dawn – whether the others liked/respected her or not – would not end well.  If you’re going to attack in that situation, make it count.

6. This is not a problem with the episode, but rather someone from AMC thinking it was a good idea to post this photo a mere seconds after the east coast feed ended:

RIP Beth

The caption was “RIP Beth” and everything, just in case you thought Daryl was carrying her body across the threshold.

1. The return of Michonne’s zombie head chopping.  It feels like it has been a long time.  Welcome back.

2. There were a lot of great zombie kills in this episode, so it’s hard to pick a definitive favorite.  But I think I’m going to go with the zombie who fell on the machete and cut his head in half.  I couldn’t help but think of Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter.

Friday the 13th Jason Death

3. The scene of Rick negotiating with the cops.  It looked like a scene out of a Western.  I kept waiting for the Ennio Morricone score to kick in.
He was all calm, cool and collected, too.
“Where are your people?”
[Sniper immediately shoots a zombie.]
“They’re close.”

4. The exchange scene in the hospital hallway.  For starters, there was no music.  I love music, but I feel like it’s easy to go overboard.  “Things should be tense.  Crank the music!  The people need to know!”  The lack of music made this scene extremely tense.  You could hear every footstep.  Time seemed to crawl.
The camera angle was terrific.  It was crooked, like something wasn’t quite right.  It was like a picture hanging askew on the wall.  I wanted to reach out and straighten the screen.  The camera is used like this at the end of The Bride of Frankenstein, and I always loved that scene.  It’s clear that something is wrong, even if you’re not quite sure what that something is yet.
In a documentary on the Pixies, PJ Harvey describes Joey Santiago’s guitar playing style by saying that it feels the notes are bending in such a way that you need to bend your body to hear it correctly (paraphrasing, of course).  That’s how I feel about these kinds of scenes.  I feel like I need to bend my body to be able to see what is going on.  It’s an odd feeling, and it worked perfectly here.
It’s amazing what a lack of music and a crooked camera angle can add to the tension of a scene.

5. I loved the scene of Beth standing in front of Dawn.  The way the camera was, it looked like Beth was hulking over Dawn.  If it wasn’t clear before, it was made perfectly clear in that moment: Beth was strong and Dawn was the coward.
Strong?  Coward?  In the end, it doesn’t really matter.  The only thing that matters in this world is who is holding the gun.

6. The final shot was terrific.

Coda Final Image

7. Morgan still slowly following the group.  I love that actor and am really looking forward to seeing what they do with his character.  Here’s to hoping that storyline kicks in when the show returns in February.

Final thoughts:
I was on the verge of giving up on this show, but these last 8 episodes drew me back in.  They weren’t without their faults, but they had an energy to them that had been lacking.  It was also consistently good, which is something the show has struggled with from the very beginning.  I’m already looking forward to seeing what they do next.
I’d also like to say that I’m going to miss Beth.  Not a lot, but a little.  More often than not, Emily Kinney did a good job with the material she was given.  Also, I know that it was a pretty widely mocked, but I liked her singing.  I like that they worked in Tom Waits and Waxahatchee songs into a show about the zombie apocalypse.  Her death didn’t devastate me, but I am a little sad that she’s gone.  RIP Beth.  May your strength and your songbird spirit be passed on to another weary traveler.

The Walking Dead S5E6, “Consumed”

Season 5 Poster

Another week down, another week late.  Sorry everyone.  I’ve been slacking pretty hard lately.  And during a good season, too.  I’m going to try to get back on track for the remaining episodes.  Can’t be falling too far behind with such a short amount of time left in the season.

1. I realize that Daryl and Carol were driving their car with the lights off, but I find it hard to believe the lead car wouldn’t have seen a car following them.  They drove a long way and there was no one else on the road.  Daryl stayed back a little ways, but not that far.  I feel like they would have been noticed.

2. All the talk about starting over.  We get it.  Blank slate and all that.  Roughly half the dialogue in this episode seemed to deal with this.  We get it.  There was no need to hammer it as hard as they did.  Daryl’s “The reason I said we’ve got to start over is because we gotta,” line was particularly eye-roll worthy.  You know what I don’t want any more of?  Vague, faux-philosophical talk about starting over or how little anyone can know anyone else.  It all just feels like empty, space-filling talk.

3. Carol being a smart survivor, yet using her three remaining bullets against zombies in close quarters.  That is not a good use of resources.

4. I loved the silence of the falling van, but watching it land on its wheels was laughable.  I know, I know.  “It’s a show about zombies, how can you expect realism?”  Because I do.  It may be a show about zombies, but it’s set in our world.  The normal rules of our world still apply.  And in our world, a van that falls nose-first off a bypass does not do a complete flip and land on its wheels.
It was a cool scene and the raining zombies (hallelujah) were cool, but watching that van land on its wheels was ludicrous.

1. When the car headed north on I-85, I loved that the northern route was clear, while I-85 south was jam-packed with cars.

It led to this question: in the event of a zombie uprising, where would you go?  Would you go south where the weather is warmer, or would you go north, where the zombies would freeze in the cold?  Surviving in the cold would be harder, but you know you wouldn’t have to deal with zombies for roughly 30% of the year.
For the record, I already have a place picked out, but I’m not telling anyone here.  Don’t want it to be too crowded, you see.

2. The scene in the shelter was terrific.  My heart broke a little when we saw the shadow of the child behind the door.  I loved Daryl taking care of both zombies and burning them while Carol was asleep.  This entire episode showed the depth of their friendship, but this scene really stood out.
Carol’s face when she saw Daryl burning the bodies was terrific.  Just a subtle change in her expression.  Melissa McBride and Norman Reedus did great work in this episode.  Reedus is normally pretty one-note, so he doesn’t usually impress me too much, but McBride is consistently one of the best parts of the show.

3. Every time I see a pillar of smoke, I can’t help but think about The Darkness Out of Carthage.  It’s a terrific visual that always gives off a feeling of dread.  (Also, you should buy The Darkness Out of Carthage, because it’s amazing.)

4. I’m a big fan of the “throw the burning notebook to distract the zombies” trick.  For a minute, I thought that notebook contained all of Daryl’s poetry.
Speaking of Daryl and his love of the arts…
“Looks like a dog sat in paint and wiped his ass all over the place,” was the perfect way to describe that painting.  I think Daryl missed his calling as an art critic.

5. Seeing the Georgia Dome in the background of a couple shots.  Haven’t seen that much destruction come to that building since the 2010 NFL playoffs.

6. A zombie getting a machete in his face.  It looked like something out of Zombi.  The head looked like it had the consistency of a rotted pumpkin.  A rotted, blood-spurting pumpkin.  When the skin starts rotting, does the skull start rotting also?

7. Back in my recap of the first episode, I made mention of Carol’s face looking much cleaner after the group caught up with her.  “How did she get her face all clean?” I asked.  They showed her wiping her face off with her poncho in this episode.  Well played, writers.  I still don’t think she could have wiped her face clean with clothes stained in zombie blood, but I like that they showed this.  It made me smile a little.

8.  In the scene where Daryl and Carol are waiting in the car and a hand bangs on the window, I thought it was telling that they sighed with relief when they found out that it was “just a zombie”.  Zombies are vile creatures that can kill you with a single bite.  And yet that zombie was way less of a threat than the people in the car they were following.  It’s a common theme of all post-apocalyptic stories: more often than not, the true threat is our fellow man.  No matter what is banging on our window, we’re the real monsters.

Final thoughts:
There were some moments I didn’t care for, but, overall, I really liked this episode.  I love the rapport – often non-verbal – that Daryl and Carol have.  (If you want to read a great take on the nature of their relationship, you really need to read Lisa’s recap of this episode.  She’s a terrific writer, and she absolutely knocks this out of the park.)
I really like the way this episode has gone.  Yes, we have spent a lot of time away from Rick and company, but I like that.  I prefer these episodes where we focus on another group the entire time, rather than spending 10 minutes per episode getting caught up with non-Rick characters.

The Walking Dead S5E5, “Self Help”

Season 5 Poster

I’m a week late with this.  Sorry.  I was out of town for work, and it just threw my whole schedule off.  Orlando was lovely, but I neglected my duties.  Sorry everyone.

Let’s just go with Hates and Loves, yeah?

1. I still don’t understand the whole, “Glenn and Maggie have to go with Abraham.”  I know that was the deal, but I don’t understand why that was the deal.  Just so they would have more people in their Eugene Security Party?  It was never really explained.

2. Abraham insisting on driving 70 mph down a road in a bus.  There are zombies and broken-down cars everywhere.  I know you’re anxious to get to Washington, but just slow down a little bit.  The people in this show have a nasty habit of driving too fast and flipping their cars.

3. The scene with Eugene humming really got on my nerves, and it went on entirely too long.

4. While the scene of Eugene dismembering zombies via fire hose looked cool, it seemed unnecessary.  I think they could have taken care of the zombies by themselves, and they would have been able to save that water to drink.  It was an ill-advised wet t-shirt contest.

5. Having two vehicles break down in a single episode was a bit much.

1. Eugene’s admission when he gets caught watching Abraham & Rosita having sex.  “Cards on the table, I was watching them…I enjoy the female form and I consider this to be a victimless crime.”  It was weird and skeezy, but it made me laugh.
We should also not be surprised that a man with a mullet was watching people have sex.

2. I’m glad that Eugene finally admitted to the group that he’s a fraud.  After trying to sabotage them along the way, it’s good that it’s finally out in the open.
It helps to explain Abraham’s drive to get him to Washington.  He wanted to believe in Eugene because that mission was the only thing keeping him alive.  Maybe he saw the cracks in Eugene’s story, but he didn’t want to believe Eugene was lying.  Watching Abraham drop to his knees was heartbreaking.

3. Watching the hope draining from Maggie’s face after Eugene’s admission was terrific.  Great non-vocal acting.

4. Eugene dropped to the ground like Apollo Creed.

Final thoughts:
I didn’t care for this episode immediately after it ended, but, after thinking about it a little more, I really liked this.  It got Eugene’s lies out in the open, and also helped explain Abraham’s motivation.  It wasn’t a great episode, but it was a pretty good episode.  Looking forward to seeing where they go from here with this group.