Each week, we comb through the guts of The Walking Dead, much like a horde of hungry walkers, to bring you the episode’s best moments, surprises, and other post-apocalyptic curiosities. This week: You answer to me, you provide for me, and you belong to me.
Season 7, Episode 1: “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be”
Best pacing: During the finale, we were concerned that the cliffhanger ending and subsequent three-month wait would lessen the dramatic impact of whoever fell victim to Negan and his bat, Lucille. But sure enough, the show ramped the anxiety back up to 11 with Rick’s flashbacks and Negan’s general creepiness. However . . .
Most cruel: You’d think it’d be Negan who won this award, but executive producers Greg Nicotero and Scott Gimple kept us in the dark as to who met the business end of the Lucille for nearly 13 minutes. (It was Abraham, for those who couldn’t bear to watch.) Then, as we secretly breathed a sigh of relief that Glenn wasn’t the victim, they killed him too, five minutes later. That’s ice cold.
Best spoiler protection: Thanks to Rick’s fearful visions of the future, we literally saw every single member of the group, minus Rick, get whacked by Lucille. It’s the old film an alternate ending trick, times five.
Biggest fear: “No, you don’t kill that.” Negan doesn’t fear Rick, Alexandria, or anything else in his world. But he does fear the millions of fans who would surely riot upon Daryl’s death. We think we’ve found his weakness.
Best dad joke: “She’s a vampire bat!” —Negan on Lucille’s bloodlust
Damn millennials: Carl doesn’t know what a southpaw is? Kids today . . .
Biggest insult: After Negan finds a bottle of rubbing alcohol in the RV, he uses it liberally to clean his ax. That means he doesn’t even need the supplies; if he did, he certainly wouldn’t waste them on cleaning a weapon. It’s solely about having power over others at this point.
Best religious parallel: Negan commanding Rick to harm Carl reminded us of God commanding Abraham to kill his son, Isaac. And when we started down this road, it became abundantly clear: Negan is their god now.
Most accurate continuity: At the end of the episode, one of Negan’s men took a photo of Glenn’s battered corpse. A photo exactly like the ones Glenn found last season in the Saviors’ compound.
Backward priorities: Negan admits that it’s “messed up to ask” Rick to slice Carl’s arm like a salami. Asking him to chop off his kid’s arm, that’s perfectly reasonable, but explaining how to do it is messed up. Sure.
Best line: “Welcome to a brand new beginning, you sorry shits.” —Negan
Best kill: Our spirits.
Most disturbing image: Glenn, after the first Lucille strike. After Abraham bought the farm, we thought the worst was behind us. The unceremonious bash to Glenn’s head left us stunned. But then he was still alive. His head was smashed, his eye popped out, but he was still alive, struggling to put together the most simple of sentences and voice his last words to Maggie. That moment was almost too much.
Episode MVP: Andrew Lincoln. No, not Rick, but Andy for his incredible performance when Rick finally, finally breaks down as Negan commands him to sever Carl’s arm. It was arguably one of the most powerful moments in the series thus far.
We need a hug: We knew this was going to be a rough episode, but our chests literally hurt even after the credits rolled. It’s proof of good execution that a single episode can affect us so much, but on the other hand . . .
What did we do to deserve this? Seriously, this episode was really, really hard to watch.
And once again, where exactly does Rick fall this week on the calm/crazy scale?
Editor’s note: When we input the data from the premiere into the Crazy-O-Meter’s computational matrix, the servers overheated and we were left with this image:
We can only assume that the results were so off the charts crazy that mankind currently does not possess the scientific understanding to quantitate it.