“I want you to think about what could’ve happened, think about what happened, and think about what could still happen,” says Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) to Rick (Andrew Lincoln) as he takes him for a little drive in the RV after beating to death not one but TWO members of Rick’s group in the seventh season opener of AMC’s horror/drama series, The Walking Dead.
The episode begins only moments after Negan has just finished bashing two heads to bits, with the camera showing a huge fresh blood stain on the ground and Rick being helpless but infuriated telling him that he is going to kill him. “Not today, not tomorrow, but I’m gonna kill you,” says the helpless leader while still on his knees. Not liking his defiance and even more the look Rick is giving him, Negan tells his right-hand man to get him Rick’s weapon, which is an ax. Negan then drags Rick into the RV telling everyone to stay put and he’ll be back with or maybe without Rick. Negan plants the ax – really, it’s more a hatchet – into the table in the RV and tells Rick his best chance is to go for it and put it in the back of his head. At first Rick hesitates, but then does try only to have Negan pull a very big machine gun on him and hit him with it. Negan drives down the road to the bridge where the Saviors left a man hanging who is now a zombie but is still hanging there. Negan stops the RV and walkers begin to surround it looking to get in.
Rick is having flashes of Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Rosita (Christian Serratos) while sitting in the RV when Negan sits with down with him and tries once again to explain that his people and their possessions are his now. They all work for Negan now. He opens the door, throws the ax out and tells Rick to go get him HIS ax. Negan then throws Rick out and closes the door without giving him any way to protect himself against the zombies other than his hands.
Outside the RV in the mist as daybreaks, Rick is having more flashes of Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), Aaron (Ross Marquand), Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), Maggie (Lauren Cohan), and Daryl (Norman Reedus) as he fights his way punching, kicking, and shoving the walkers away from him. He climbs up on the roof of the RV for safety as he hears Negan taunting him from inside saying, “Bet you thought you were all gonna grow old together.” Lying on top of the RV, Rick remembers and takes in everything that happened last night.
A flashback shows Negan finishing playing his “eenie, meenie, miney, moe” game and points his bat nicknamed Lucille at Abraham. That’s right, it’s Abraham who Negan beats to death with the bat covered in barbed wire. Abraham dies bravely while telling Negan to, “Suck my nuts.” Negan laughs and continues to beat Abraham on the head until his head is literally smashed to bits. It is not a scene for the squeamish. Negan puts the bat in front of Rosita noticing how she reacted and tells her to look at it. She can’t bring herself to do it and Negan begins screaming at her. This sets off Daryl who gets up off his knees and punches Negan in the face. Negan’s followers grab Daryl and stop him from doing anything else. Negan stops Dwight (Austin Amelio) from putting an arrow into Daryl’s head and tells him to put him back. Negan stands up after being dropped by Daryl’s punch, telling Rick’s group he understands how they feel but he warned them that kind of behavior does not fly. “I need you to know me,” says the sadistic bully. “First impressions are important,” he continues and quickly turns and brings the bat down onto Glenn’s head. As bad as Abraham’s death was, Glenn’s is even worse with one of his eyes popping out of its socket but still attached. As Glenn dies, he struggles to say something which impresses Negan saying, “Damn, he’s still got something in him.” Glenn turns to Maggie with blood pouring down his face and manages to say, “Maggie, I’ll find you.” Negan brings his bat down onto Glenn again and again while the terrified group cries and looks away.
Rick hears Negan inside the RV telling him he’s only going to give him one more chance to bring him his ax and that the others will pay if he doesn’t. Desperate not to lose any more of his people, Rick grabs the ax and fights his way through the hoard of walker. When he gets to the RV door it’s locked so he tries to defend himself as best as possible until Negan finally opens the door and shoots the walkers down. Rick goes into the RV and hands the ax to Negan.
Negan drives back to the spot in the woods where he murdered Abraham and Glenn and throws Rick out of the RV. He’s not happy Rick still has the look of defiance on his face. Negan wants/needs to change to change that so he tells his men to put guns to the heads of the rest of Rick’s group. Negan calls Carl (Chandler Riggs) over and asks him if he’s a southpaw. Carl doesn’t know what that means and he asks if he’s left-handed to which Carl says no. “Good,” says the leader of the Saviors as he wraps a belt around Carl’s left arm and forces him down on the ground. He uses a pen to draw a line on Carl’s left arm and tells Rick to cut off Carl’s arm with the ax or he will kill every single one of Rick’s people and Carl as well. A horrified Rick pleads to Negan not to do this and he offers his own arm up for Negan to cut off. Negan says he understands that Rick is upset but that this has to happen and it must happen now. Michonne tries to tell Negan that they understand now and that he doesn’t have to do this and Negan responds telling her he knows that she and the others understand but Rick does not yet.
Rick continues to beg for Negan to take his arm instead which causes Negan to ask, “Are you really going to make me count?” So Negan begins counting while Rick trembles and looks sick. Carl whispers to his father that it’s okay and to just do it quickly. At the count of two, Rick picks up the ax with tears streaming down his face and Negan stops him. Negan kneels down and turns Rick’s head to face him. “That’s the look I want to see on your face,” says the triumphant sadist who knows that he has broken Rick. Negan makes Rick say out loud that Negan owns him and the rest. “Today was a productive day,” says Negan as he and his Saviors leave, taking Daryl with them and warning Rick and the others that they’ll be back in a month to take everything Rick and his group has collected for him.
Maggie gets to her feet and tells Rick and the others to get back to Alexandria but they refuse to leave her alone. Together the group collects the bodies of Abraham and Glenn and sets off to bury them. As Rick walks with them he remembers what Negan said about him and his friends growing old together and has a mental image of everyone sitting at a long table having dinner with Glenn at one end bouncing his and Maggie’s child on his knee, happy. The episode ends with Rick driving the RV with a scared look on his face.
Review of Season 7 Episode 1 Titled “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be”
Brutal, gory, and intense, AMC’s horror/drama series launched its seventh season extremely strong with a stand-out over-the-top performance delivered by Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan, the ruthless, sadistic leader of the army known as The Saviors. It also said goodbye to two characters, one who has been in the show since episode two. Glenn and Abraham were the sacrificial lambs at Negan’s late night party in the woods. It’s unfortunate that Abraham, played so well by Michael Cudlitz, was killed off as basically a means of misdirection. Fans of the show and the graphic novel know that Glenn was killed off in the same way in the 100th issue of the comic to help introduce the new villain, Negan.
The true heartbreak is the death of Glenn, played so perfectly by Steven Yeun who was and will always be the heart and soul of the series. Glenn’s character grew from a young man who delivered pizzas before the zombie apocalypse to a loyal friend, hunter, scavenger, lover, husband, son-in-law, and expectant father. He was one of the few characters who refused to give up on trying to make a life in a horror-filled world and who always put those he cared about before himself. He will be greatly missed.
With Daryl in the clutches of the Saviors and Rick’s spirit broken, season seven seems to be all about the new villain Negan and his reign of terror.