Content Warning for violence and gore.
Y’all. Honestly. Y’all.
I don’t even know where to start?? You might remember I was not at all thrilled with the season finale, and now…this??
I’m going to take a deep breath and attempt to recap this nonsense, though that bit will be short since not a whole lot actually happened. Then the fun stuff.
When we left Our Heroes, Negan had them on their knees and he was trying to decide whose brains to bash in. The episode opened post-murder, and we waited 20 minutes to find out who bit it. I mean, what’s 20 minutes after 6 months, right?
Negan drags Rick into the RV and drives out to this horde of zombies and tosses an axe onto the roof of the RV and tells Rick to go get it. All as a way of treating Rick like his trained dog, basically. He reminds Rick of what just happened, and what COULD happen if Rick doesn’t obey him.
Rick kills the zombies (with some help from Negan) and gets the axe, and they head back to the group.
This scene is spliced with Rick’s flashbacks to the actual murders. First (after an excruciating game of eenie meenie minie moe), Negan kills Abraham. I’ve never cared for Abraham, something I haven’t been shy about, so I was relieved that’s who it was.
Negan realizes that Rosita had a thing for Abraham and starts taunting her with Lucille. He clearly isn’t threatening her; just being an ass; but Daryl flips and punches him. Negan then. Brutally and disgustingly. Murders Glenn.
Um let’s see what else? Negan threatens to make Rick cut Carl’s arm off, but stops him at the last minute, a la God and Abraham (the one with Isaac, not the one with zombies). Then he forces Rick to say that he, Rick, belongs to Negan, and so do all of Rick’s people. Then Negan and his boys grab Daryl and leave.
Sasha, Rosita, and Eugene carry Abraham’s body away, while Maggie and everyone else take care of Glenn. Sasha and Maggie will apparently be heading to Hilltop after burial detail, and everyone else will go back to Alexandria.
Why, you might be asking, was this so bad exactly? Was it because they killed Glenn? Well, yeah, Glenn has been a favorite of mine since the very beginning, but it wasn’t just that. Your favs die, especially on a show like Walking Dead, but it matters HOW it’s done, and this was done poorly.
Almost as poorly as possible.
First, we had that god-awful season finale that left us on a cliffhanger. After spending all season teasing Glenn’s death, a death comic book fans were anticipating, they left us with the chance that maybe no, it wouldn’t be Glenn. Then they killed Abraham as a sort of fake-out before killing Glenn for the stupidest reason possible, and in an incredibly gratuitous way.
Daryl had kept his mouth shut the whole time: while Negan taunted the group, while he monologued, while he beat Abraham to death. It wasn’t until he was being rude to Rosita that Daryl snapped? Like I said, he clearly wasn’t threatening her; just being a dickface like he’d been THE WHOLE TIME.
Negan had promised if anyone else acted out (after Glenn’s protest last season) that he would kill someone for it. At that point did they have any reason to doubt his word? When he stood over Daryl with the bat I was like, “Well he sure as hell isn’t gonna kill fan favorite white boy.” And GUESS WHAT?? The Asian guy had to die instead! To further the white dude’s story!
Glenn’s death has a lot to do with Rick’s future story, Maggie’s future story and certainly Daryl’s future story because Daryl was the one who launched himself at Negan. It just made for a more rich overall story arc for a lot of these other characters. -Greg Nicotero
Not only that, but with Abraham’s death it was like…blood on his face and him defiantly saying “suck my nuts.” He then fell and the camera cut away to a long shot of Negan beating him.
With Glenn, we got several scenes of him gory and bloody with his EYEBALL half hanging out.
Yeah, that image is from the comics, so yes his death was exactly like the source material, but…there are plenty of times when they’ve strayed from the comics, or toned things down, but this had to be shot-for-shot? This particularly gruesome murder of an Asian man on a show that already targets its POC and women?
Let’s talk about Abraham’s death for a minute, dear readers. Y’all might remember Denise’s death last season. She was a fat wlw who was given Abraham’s comics death because, according to Robert Kirkman, he regretted killing Abraham that soon.
So they killed him two episodes later instead.
Because that makes sense.
This episode was so draining. It was dark and gory and absolutely hopeless. Plus poorly written and, in parts, boring. Negan bored me with his stupid monologues. We get it: you’re mean and you’re in charge. WE GET IT.
Halfway through, shortly after Glenn’s death, I almost picked up my phone and emailed the editors here to say I couldn’t cover The Walking Dead this season: it was too upsetting, and I didn’t even want to watch it at all, much less dwell on every episode enough to recap and review it.
I didn’t do that, obviously. I’m still here, carrying on. But I’m not looking forward to this season in the least. I’m not looking forward to seeing everyone so defeated. I’m not looking forward to the way TWD tells stories; build build build, ruin momentum, build build build. Cliffhanger! Lame resolution of cliffhanger!
Greg Nicotero considers the negative reactions to this episode a compliment, of course:
“That means we have done something to affect these people in a way that they don’t know how to process,” he said, comparing the narrative to Game of Thrones and the HBO drama’s long roster of violence and character deaths. “If you kill a character and nobody cares, that means we haven’t done something to connect our people to the characters.”
That isn’t the point. No one watches The Walking Dead thinking Our Heroes are going to live happily ever after. Hell, remember how boring the season on the farm was? You have to have the threat of death hanging over their heads; it’s the zombie apocalypse after all. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it, and this was clearly the latter.
Is this post Game of Thrones television? Every plot point has to shock and appall worse than the one before it? I know this show takes place in a post-zombie-apocalyptic hellscape, but come on! It doesn’t have to be so incredibly hopeless. It doesn’t have to sap the joy and light from every single second Our Heroes are on screen.
And if it IS going to be that way, it doesn’t have to insult us with such poor writing. I guess that’s what offends me the most about this whole thing: it was insulting. Last season’s cliffhanger was one insult, and then to resolve it the way they did just made it even worse. I feel like Scott Gimple, et. al., are laughing all the way to the bank right now. They’re renewed for season 8 and they feel invincible: no matter what they put us through, we’ll keep coming back for more.
Treat your audience with more respect than that. Don’t pawn us off with excuses for killing wlw and then contradict yourselves 2 episodes later. Don’t try to fake us out, or leave us in false suspense. Why leave a 6-month cliffhanger only to then kill the one dude everyone expected you to kill? Teasing Glenn’s death all season was bad enough, but then killing Abraham first just felt like the worst bait and switch in history. All because it had to be BIGGER and MORE SHOCKING!
I’m disgusted, in case you can’t tell. Disgusted and fed up. I want to be treated better by the TV shows I (used to) enjoy. Your viewers aren’t mindless sheep, Walking Dead. Start fucking respecting them.
Episode Grade: I mean, please. A strong F. I hated pretty much every second, except Rick’s flashbacks about each character and the “last supper” scene at the end.
Images curtesy of AMC and Image Comics