Season Seven Premiere: The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be
Directed by: Greg Nicotero
Starring: Andrew Lincoln, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Steven Yeun
The Walking Dead’s biggest struggle might simply be to maintain a consistent tone. The series deviates from hopeful to dark and with this newest show it tiptoes back into complete nihilism. One thing that can’t be argued is that this show has balls that we only expect from Joss Wheadon. If it’s time for a beloved character to die, that character dies regardless of fan outcry. If it serves the story then that character will die. To be fair last season teased some character deaths a little too much. You can overuse a tease to the point where viewers stop caring or believing and that’s something you don’t want as a creator.
Many fans, and critics attacked last season’s cliffhanger ending complaining that the death should have been revealed. Modern television viewers are ridiculous; I’m sorry, not sorry. Cliffhangers are exciting. They give us something to debate and discuss during the long break between seasons. Nowadays everyone wants everything immediately. None seems to have the attention span or patience for storytelling. Thanks America, now I feel old. So this premiere episode titled “The Day Will Come When You won’t Be” gave us the answers we were looking for, but not until the near 15-minute mark.
Footage was shot of nearly every character being a victim of Lucile, the new bad guy Neagan’s barbed wire wrapped baseball bat. This footage was utilized throughout the summer to keep fans guessing about which one was really to be killed. It turns out the footage was also to be used in the premiere episode of this season to add a visual to Rick’s internal fears. Sure the scenes were shocking and affective but they were also a bit confusing. It actually took a minute to figure out what characters actually did get killed. Honestly a more skilled leader, not the special fx guy, probably should have directed an episode of this weight.
This episode will be hated for the extreme violence but those scenes, along with Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s solid performance sell Neagan as the series’ most dastardly, and scariest villain yet. He needs to break rick down because he believes a broken rick leads to a broken group, and he’s probably right. Rick did have this coming after his strike first decisions of last season. With that said Neagan would have been this brutal whether Rick struck first or not. This is Neagan’s method of operation to bend people to his will.
This episode of the show does plod a bit by giving us nothing else but the answer to last season’s cliffhanger. Andrew Lincoln gives us a stunningly broken rick though. We believe he is crushed, as are we. This episode is said to be the beginning of a reset for the series and it should be because we may have suffered the biggest loss of the series so far. This premiere is dark, brutal, and unforgiving. It’s a hard watch but given the loss that the groups, and the fans, are suffering, it should be a hard watch. It’s not perfect but it’s gutsy and it doesn’t turn a blind “eye” behind the death of a character with a cutaway or some levity. Mainstream TV fans are going to struggle with this episode and that may be the best compliment I can give it.
So without getting too spoilery there are two deaths in the episode. One of the characters was starting to become a fan favorite but in the scheme of things a fairly new addition to the show. the other character has been a fan favorite from the very beginning. There really should have only been one death in the episode because the death of the veteran member of the show completed over shadowed the newbie making it feel insignificant. That death should have been saved for later. Also, this episode feels like it has an agenda of forcing some new characters into the hearts of fans. This place needs to be earned. You can’t rush it no matter how many anguished scenes you put on screen.
Last season the series did toy with the audience too much. Hopefully this reset to the series signifies an end, or at least mostly, to the fake outs. That’s not to say that we can’t see our characters in jeopardy because that is expected. If you are going to tease a death and not pay it off there better be real reason for it outside of just to mess with the fans.