Walking Dead, we need to have a talk. Ruminating over last night’s “Not Tomorrow Yet,” I can’t stop thinking about the stupidity of it all. Yes, I realize we needed to make a step in direction A to get to the long-awaited destination B, but is this truly the route Rick and Co. had to take? It’s difficult to imagine feeling sympathy after our gang not only invited in the worst kind of trouble; they put on the mood music, laid out an irresistible spread, and basically screamed “Hey, OPEN BAR!” out the fucking front door. But, before we go on, here’s your requisite ***Spoiler Warning: Discussion through Sunday’s TWD episode follows; if you’re not caught up, back on out. Spoilers!****
We’ve had many ups and down with this series, and usually my big complaint involves those water-treading episodes, like we had last week. In between the heavy action, the writers tend to stuff in filler hours that frustrate and insult their audience, but this week wasn’t one of those. This was more a head-scratcher over inexplicable character actions; in other words, we’ll end up having to overlook the nonsensical things these people we thought we knew did, because they had to do them to get the story to where it’s going. Mind you, I am not a comic reader (although I’ve read ahead in the wiki about certain characters); my knowledge of exactly how Rick’s group first meets Negan is cursory at best. I hadn’t read about a poorly-thought-out, antagonistic attack, and so last night was shocking on several counts.
Exactly how long did Rick — a former deputy sheriff with the sense of an experienced cop (theoretically) — spend working through his plan to attack a group of people known for nothing but their control over other groups of people, and for killing people, unprovoked? Who seriously thought through the idea of completing that attack with several Alexandria folk who a) have minimal training and experience in killing zombies, never mind live people, and b) have shown more fear than ability or courage thus far was a good one? WHO?
Beyond that, what has caused Michonne’s big peace-loving turn-around since she stood up to — nay, whacked him over the head! — Rick? Is his dick that magical that after just one fuck, she changed her entire philosophy about the group creating better lives for themselves?
Does protecting Maggie and his unborn child really turn Glenn into the guy who storms into an unknown situation to kill defenseless, sleeping people? Speaking of…WHAT GROUP OF PEOPLE IN THIS WORLD DOESN’T HAVE A NIGHT WATCH AT ALL TIMES, AND WHY WOULDN’T RICK’S GROUP EXPECT THE SAVIORS TO HAVE A NIGHT WATCH? By the same token, Glenn spent little time trying to convince Maggie +1 not to come on the highly unpredictable mission that a) certainly involves killing people, and b) could easily involve unpredictable losses for them.
Heath has never killed a live person before either, yet after Glenn’s “pep talk” he’s suddenly immensely capable, as are Aaron, Sasha, Tara…in fact, the whole group has miraculously transformed into a crack killer squad who clear rooms better than most TV S.W.A.T. teams.
Sniveling, wimpy Gabriel is now fearless, convinced he’s “still a priest” (uh, no, not after locking out your parishioners and letting them be devoured), and reciting bible quotes as he cold-bloodedly kills a Savior. I’m calling bullshit on this behind-the-scenes transformation, and for a minute last night, I thought he might catch a bat to the back of the head. I continue to worry he’s being (impossible) redeemed, which is a slap in the face to all who’ve been waiting for the former father to get what he truly deserves.
Fueled by adrenaline and fear, the group are at their worst, unthinking and uncaring. “Not Tomorrow Yet” is the point where Rick, Daryl, Michonne, Glenn, Abraham, Sasha, Heath and Tara truly become the bad guys; for viewers, it was a depressingly shocking turn I really never expected to happen. They are the Governor, they are Gareth, they are even the unseen, Negan, killing not out of necessity but because they want (something) — because they can.
Rick’s group has somehow convinced themselves they need to do this to survive, to take out the opposition even before attempting to negotiate. In that regard, the end of the hour already proved them wrong. Instead of being shot down where they stood, a voice over a loudspeaker gave them the choice to live, at least for now.
We know what’s coming (death); we know who’s coming (Negan); we still fear what’s coming. But, it’s a little more difficult to feel sympathy for these characters we’ve come to know and love. It’s also curious that the writers sent the group in this disturbing direction; they’ve set us up a hell of an emotional quandary. Until now, even with some of the group’s questionable behavior, or Rick’s terrible leadership, things always seemed to even out in a way where we could feel they ended on the righteous side. Almost nobody has remained free from bloodlust, or anger; even our most beloved characters have had a terrible moment or two, but someone else in the group helped bring them back. This hour, it was as if a giant maelstrom of foolishness and ire swept up the entire group, and spit out that writhing Tasmanian Devil of Looney Tunes fame. Because their ill-conceived, senseless attack sets up the karma Negan will bring their way, whomever he ends up batting around, it’ll be that much harder to find our sympathy. Curiously, what the writers have managed to do is create intense interest for what’s to come after that fateful meeting. Instead of feeling completely focused on what we know know is a requisite repayment, we’re forced to contemplate what kind of group it will be that comes out on the other side. Will those left revert to the generally “good” people we’ve come to know, or will they turn to just another follow-your-Heart-of-Darkness-like tribe? Considering how long Negan’s arrival has been anticipated, I suppose that’s an admirable feat.
On a lighter note, you may have recognized one of the severed heads in the episode. Wonder why? Greg Nicotero revealed it was (sculpted from clay) based on Johnny Depp.
And, that’s not the only Walking Dead franchise/Johnny Depp-related phenomenon we’ve had.