Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first…
Most of what happened this episode SHOULD have happened to end last season.
The “cliffhanger” was bullshit and Scott Gimple needs to check himself before he wrecks the show.
The skull bashing scenes should have had me in tears, but coming into a fresh season, I felt almost no emotional connection with any of our heroes like I had going through all of season 6 with them.
It would have been such a better premiere had I known how bad Negan was and was biting my nails wondering what he’ll do next instead of not knowing who Negan is at all and only thinking he’s bad because commercials told me so.
Abraham, and more importantly, Glenn are gone now – dead in the most brutal way possible.
The POV shot we see at the end of season 6 is from Abraham’s perspective. He’s the only member of the group who should have died Sunday night.
Unfortunately, Daryl has to release the beast when Negan begins waving Lucille, gloating to Rosita about killing Abraham, so Daryl punches him square in the jaw. A huge dumb ass move, especially considering what he just saw happen and how many men Negan has backing him. Negan “shuts that shit down” by giving Glenn the bat next.
Luckily, I avoided most rumors about who died over the long break. However, it was safe to assume Abraham was in the kill zone given his short but sweet history on the show. Glenn was also a sound bet because of the emotional impact on fans his death would bring and the comic book provenance behind his death at the hands of Negan.
I was still hoping they’d remix this instance by killing off Daryl instead of Glenn. There could be no bigger emotional moment or more bombastic villain introduction in TWD show than killing off everyone’s most beloved character in such brutal, senseless fashion. But, Gimple didn’t have the balls or the narrative confidence to kill off a main attraction, so he went with the obvious choices.
Some people will say that it’s overkill (no pun intended) for Negan to execute two of our heroes instead of just Glenn, like the comic did; that they wrote the scene that way for shock value. But, I don’t hate how it happened. I really like it in fact. It’s fully within Daryl’s character to jump up out of rage and try to do something drastic – that bit didn’t feel contrived. Plus, he’ll have to carry Glenn’s death with him throughout the rest of the series, so it adds an extra layer to his brooding persona.
After the “big reveal,” the rest of “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be” is just about introducing us to Negan, exhibiting how brutal but calculating he is, and showing us that Rick and the gang are totally fucked. No other villain that our heroes have encountered up to season 7 had totally petrified Rick like Negan does. In his arrogance, Rick whispers to Negan “I’m gonna kill you,” a threat that used to hold weight with the viewers.But Negan disregards Rick as a petulant child and by the end of the episode, has Rick groveling at his feet, snot bubbles and all. It’s a look for Rick we haven’t seen before. Always in the face of death, Rick’s stepped up to the plate and been the bad ass leader we know him to be. But even the thought, even a tiny glimmer of disdain against Negan’s authority absolutely will not fly with this new tyrant.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan is fan-fucking-tastic as Negan, way better than his comic counterpart from what I remember. Comic Negan too many times spouts off on swearing tangents that render his speeches meaningless and really annoying. Morgan’s Negan commands attention when he speaks. He’s physically imposing, standing at 6’2″, so when he’s on screen, you have no choice but to look at him. He reminds me of the Joker in that you don’t know if he’s going to give a smooth, harmonious dialogue or murder someone on the spot. And when he’s speaking aggressively, he’s super intimidating. Like, I’m sitting at home safe and sound and I feel like Negan’s going to break in and take all my stuff. I felt Rick’s anguish as he knelt over Carl with his ax in hand, Negan’s frightening presence forcing him to make a terrible decision. I’m excited to see where Morgan takes this character and what twists he can put on him to make it his own.
Where we stand now
Negan admires Daryl’s ferocity in the face of his ultimate authority, so he loads Daryl up into his van and takes him back to the Savior facility. I’d normally say Rick and the gang are already working on ways to get Daryl back, but when Negan and the Saviors clear out, our heroes are left with nothing but broken looks on their faces. Maggie of course wants revenge, but Rick has seen the light. Negan left a huge impact on him and there’s no way Rick’s questioning Negan’s authority again in the current state of things.
BTW: The title of this episode comes from episode 6 of season 1 entitled “TS-19.”
(Minus the last 15 seconds :P)