REVIEW: The Walking Dead, S7 Ep1 – The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be

That hurt. A lot. And then, I felt nothing. Because after nearly an hour of non-stop torture and emotional manipulation, there is nothing left to feel. The Walking Dead is back and it is more devastating than ever.

But also more frustrating.

It was bad enough that last season ended on a massive cliffhanger. But they couldn’t even resolve it immediately as the new season premiered. No, we had to wait a good ten minutes in, and watch Rick in pieces before we found out who was killed. And who else was killed.

The Walking Dead, S7 Ep1 – The Day Will Come When You Won’t BeBecause, to ramp up the shock factor, The Walking Dead writers made Negan kill two members of Rick’s group. Abraham, who, in Negan’s words, “went down like a champ.” And Glenn, poor, sweet Glenn, Glenn who we thought was safe after that fake-out death last season. Glenn, who we should have known was doomed from the beginning. After all, he’s the one Negan kills in the comics. We should have seen this coming. Or maybe we did, so the rest played out excruciatingly slowly.

The Walking Dead, S7 Ep1 – The Day Will Come When You Won’t BeNegan (played fantastically by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, it must be said) continues his sadistic torture of Rick and his group by making Rick run out into a horde of walkers to retrieve his axe. And then, during one of the most harrowing scenes of an already messed up and gruesome episode (even by The Walking Dead standards), Negan asked Rick to chop off Carl’s hand with the aforementioned axe, or else he (Negan) would kill another member of the group. Rick breaks down and begs for mercy, a heartbreaking moment that finally satisfies Negan.

mv5bmtu0ndywode4nl5bml5banbnxkftztgwmji0mje0mdi__v1_The psychotic tyrant takes Daryl away and warns the group that if they don’t have what he wants when he returns, there will be bloody consequences.

And so, staring at each other in shock, they gradually pick themselves up, and with heavy hearts, carry away their beloved dead. This whole thing really could have been handled better and there was no need for the show to bombard us with constant misery the whole time. There was barely room to breathe and process each new horror, and so the deaths, as significant as they were, were slightly cheapened by the shock-value approach taken to them. Instead of spending enough time immediately mourning the loss of Abraham and Glenn, we had to be treated to Rick having to chop Carl’s hand off. There is a limit to the amount of grief we can take in a single episode. One reviewer compared this to having the Red Wedding last for an entire episode, and I’m inclined to agree.

The Walking Dead wants to make the viewers feel bad about these characters thrown into impossible predicaments. And maybe this experience will finally humble Rick after all his pre-emptive tactics from last season. But as much as we care about these characters, putting them through the wringer just to force us to care is downright manipulative.

A traumatizing season premiere, and not exactly in a good way.

We can dream.

We can dream.

“You thought you were all gonna grow old together, sitting around the table at Sunday dinner, happily ever after. It doesn’t work like that, Rick. Not any more.”