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“The Walking Dead” S7E1: The Desolate Remains of The Day

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This was an episode of audience participation…

See what Rick sees.
Feel what Rick feels.
Experience what Rick is experiencing.
Pure, unadulterated desolation, terror, horror, hopelessness, helplessness, and even regret.

In “The Walking Dead” S7E1 “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be” has got to be the most brutal television episode of any show or program on commercial/cable television. The ratings on the Sunday night season premier were record-breaking, as was anticipated after season 6’s cliffhanger. The episode’s title harkens back to TWD S1E6 finale “TS 19” when our original Atlanta group has been locked into the CDC complex and awaits imminent death via the facility’s fail-safe HIT system that would deploy to super heat and ignite all the oxygen and incinerate everything locked inside. The group panics and demands CDC Dr. Jenner open the doors and let them out. They don’t want to die. They want a chance to rebuild a life. After arguing and shouting back and forth their reasonings, Jenner gives in and opens the doors so they can run before the internal combustion is upon them…

“I’m grateful,” Rick says before he exits, but Jenner counters, “The day will come when you won’t be.” He shakes Rick’s hand and pulls him close, whispering something in to his ear.

We know by now Jenner has informed Rick of the inevitable for all humans after dying. They are all carriers.

When we think of everything everyone in our core group, and those extended members that have joined them over these last 6 seasons, have faced and been through … the losses and starvation and devastation and turmoil and separation and having to begin again and again to pick up the pieces and move on, we never imagined Jenner’s warning to Rick would be anything more than the growing walker population plaguing the world the group was frantic to remain alive for. Perhaps Jenner was referring to the walkers and all the lack of a normal life out there in this terrifying new world. But we cannot help but think how he himself had no idea, cloistered away in the bowels of the tightly secured CDC, the biggest threat to Rick and the group would be the living. I mean, they have adjusted to the reality that they too will turn upon death, but have lovingly and humanly devoted themselves to finishing each other after death so that will not happen. The last remains of human dignity preserved. And through the seasons the random walkers and herds have become nothing more than rabid wild animals to beware of and dealt with. So experienced has our group become that they save their ammo and fear not closely approaching the soulless beasties to plant a pointy object or definitive slam to the head. No, it is the living where the series title comes from “The Walking Dead”, and not the reanimated zombies. Those living who are not simply trying to build and maintain a life and community, but those who have no more ties to civility, Almighty God and His Commandments, law and order, or basic humanity.

Oh, we’ve had a small sniff of it from time to time, like The Claimers thugs Daryl got stuck with for a bit after losing Beth. However, we had a huge gulp of it a couple seasons back when some of our beloved group were bound, gagged, and lined up in front of the bleeding tub, waiting for their turn at blunt force trauma to the back of the head, the body collapse forward after a slitting of their throat, and the blood draining in preparation for the butcher’s table to make meat for the cannibalistic Terminus colony. You recall how you felt watching the scene as the unknowns got theirs ahead of our Glenn and Daryl in the chilling line-up at the tub. Remember that sense of hopelessness and terror and dread as you watched? But that was just the edge of the “To Serve Man” Terminus is Sanctuary Hell…

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This time there were no bindings or gags or bleeding tub … just bound in complete fear. And worse, there was now no exiled Carol tracking her family and watching over them from a distance. Nobody would be coming through the woods with thunderous propane blasts and scathing gunfire to rescue them and fuck up the bad guys. No, they were all alone in front of the devil himself now…

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…and he had come to collect. As CDC Dr. Jenner had warned, the day had come when Rick … and some of those few left who were with him in the CDC that day a long time ago still here now (Glenn, Daryl, Carl as they were at the Terminus blood tub) … could no longer be “grateful” to still be alive, and had not the chance at a clean, painless, and instantaneous death so long ago. There had to be a gut-stabbing regret now as the once fearless leader Rick now looked at his beloved young son and the other horrified faces of his loved ones kneeling in submission before this looming and laughing uncouth monster and his tangled vampire bat of merciless destruction and a painful death.

For months, since the S6 finale, TWD fans have been wondering and dreading who would meet an obvious painful death at the end of sadist Negan’s ominous bat named after his long dead wife, Lucille. I simply cannot show you the episode terror porn stills of the headless bodies left in bloody heaps in front of their grieving and terrified loving left-behinds as they sobbed and sweated in anticipation of more victims to come. Instead, when Negan stoops face to face with Rick he is told by the defiant Sheriff Grimes that someday he will die at Rick’s hands. As seen in the sneak peek Rick (and his “hatchet”) is dragged off to the group’s camper and Negan drives away. I thought for sure the writers would be catching up the books with the TV series and Rick would be losing his hand. Instead Negan pulls the vehicle to a stop, and after Rick refuses to bite when challenged by Negan to go for the ax that has been embedded in the table top, the madman tosses the tool out the trailer door and demands Rick go out into the sea of walkers to fetch it back to him, shoving him out the door. Could Rick have shoved Negan out the door into the throng of biters, and take a chance he would be bitten and eaten before he could take aim with the rifle on his shoulder that might have fallen away in the fall? You know damn well you too were looking for possibilities and opportunities to do away with the bastard and nip this shit in the ass before anyone else was butchered by him …

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Oh, and still at this point we don’t know exactly who met their death, but the continual lifeline flashes of the characters keep snapping through Rick’s traumatized mind. So much so that I began to fear Negan may have killed just about everybody at the kneeling line. However, eventually we are dragged back to relive the scene we only got a hint of at the end of the season 6 finale from the blood streaked eyes of the victim … the first victim…

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As everyone was slouched over in fear former soldier Abraham straightened his posture and looked Negan in the eyes with no fear in his red bearded face. Negan brought down Lucile atop Abraham’s hard head and Abe told him, with one last classic Abraham quote, to “Suck my nuts!” before the next endless bludgeoning slams brought him down like a mighty oak hitting the ground. But not satisfied in making the kill, Negan endlessly slammed and slammed the bat until nothing was left of Abraham’s head but a pool of heavy blood, and brain and skin and bone tissue emulsified.

At this point you could accept that the brave hulk of a fella had taken one for the team. But in the blur of viewing the traumatic episode I can’t recall why the wounded Daryl decided to jump up and challenge Negan. This resulted in Negan telling his henchmen to take Daryl away for future purposes, and he then slammed Glenn in the top of the head with the bat.

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Glenn attempted to straighten and looked through his right, still normal, eye and his now skull bulging left eye to his distraught and pregnant wife Maggie and promised, “Maggie, I’ll find you…” just as Negan commenced liquefying our beloved pizza delivery guy’s head into the ground, until only his left hand twitched the last neuro-impulses from his headless dead body.

What fucking dementia drives Negan to not be satisfied with killing somebody until he has left nothing recognizable behind? Will we ever find out, or will we be left in the land of unimaginable nightmares as we were with The Governor? We can only imagine the minds of these men who are driven to this manic brutality. We were given the background on the Terminus community. Very little on The Governor, and in both cases it looked to be personal breaks resulting from personal losses/trauma. However, as with The Claimers street gang and now with Negan (and I suspect a certain percentage of willing, not forced, Savior membership) I speculate the real and suppressed insanity was allowed to free itself in this new dystopian apocalypse world. What I found about Negan in researching…

Here’s Negan – Chapter 1[edit]

Before the outbreak, Negan is playing Ping-Pong in his garage with some of the neighborhood boys who attend the school where he works. The boys refer to him as “Coach Negan”. After defeating and belittling one of the boys, they run off and he instantly expresses regret about his behavior. His wife Lucille comes out to yell at him and Negan expresses his desire for the students to respect him by being the “cool teacher” outside of school. Lucille then suddenly collapses.

Quickly, I ponder his wife’s collapse was the virus. But I take away his interaction with those boys as an already unstable man who reverts to immature vocal and physical actions and reactions, as seen in his nursery rhyme mantra while choosing which of Rick’s group would die and in his other idiotic sophomoric moronic remarks and grinning and chuckling. Background says Negan and his wife never had children (perhaps another reason for her collapse, a miscarriage of an early pregnancy). I also wonder if Negan was a nasty kid that never grew up for some reason. Could it have been induced by some sort of parental abuse, which would feed his insatiable rage and overkill? And now he must be the supreme ruler and hand out the ultimate punishment. Background also says, and I assume it might be mentioned in they unfolding storyline, that he appalls rape and punishes it harshly and mercilessly. That said, we had a hint a few episodes back in S6 where Carol and Maggie had to deal with some of Negan’s female members in the old factory, that he claims the women of his group as his personal property and even if a woman was another man’s wife that man cannot have ‘relations’ with her without severe punishment. Negan is the cock of the walk and the rest of the males are just neutered cowering chickens. This makes me ponder Negan’s father may have been a real bastard that probably treated his wife brutally in front of him and brought other countless women in to rub it in his mother’s face. Maybe, maybe not. In the books Rick’s Carl sneaks into the Survivor compound with the intent of killing Negan but is caught…

Instead of taking immediate action against young Carl, Negan shows an impressive amount of interest in getting to know the child. He goes as far as to lead him through the Saviors’ facilities, revealing that he is the leader of a cult-like domain of selfless followers who bow to his every word and command. Many followers in his ranks are living on a point system in order to sustain their lives, though many give into his graces in exchange for a better lifestyle, most notably the women in his “harem” whom he considers his “wives”.

It is brought to Negan’s attention that one of his many wives, Amber, has committed adultery against him with her former lover. As Negan goes to handle the situation, he brings Carl along to see his wives and how he handles his affairs, before degrading the terrified Amber in front of them all. Afterward, Negan and Carl share a private moment in Negan’s quarters, where he reveals that he’d like to get to know Carl a little better, but he gets distracted by Carl’s bandaged face. He orders Carl to remove the bandages, showing interest in seeing the injury to his eye. Carl allows him to see it only after being threatened; he removes the bandages to reveal the disturbing results of having been shot. Negan, in a state of disbelief and awe, jokingly mocks the deformity and goes as far as to ask Carl if he can touch the part of his skull showing through Carl’s exposed eye-socket, which causes Carl to break finally and cry. This appears to have an odd effect on Negan, who takes back the gesture and apologizes, seeing that he has finally found a weakness in the child he finds so dangerous. They are interrupted by one of Negan’s followers who returns “Lucille” to him and leaves them alone once again. Negan reverts to coldness and orders Carl to sing a song for him while he swings the bat dangerously close.

After this intense encounter, they are interrupted once again, and Negan is told the iron is ready. Negan has Carl hold “Lucille” while he follows him to witness the event. In a ritualistic fashion, complete with call and response chanting, with the followers answering to Negan’s words, Negan demonstrates that whoever falls onto his bad graces is dealt with by having their face seared by a hot iron. Tied to the end of a pole, the tool normally used to straighten clothes is held over a fire before being handed to Negan, who presses it against the victim’s face as punishment for their betrayal. In this case, it is the face of Amber’s former lover Mark, who is left deformed in the same manner as Dwight, with a portion of his face permanently scarred and an eyeball exposed. After the ritual, Negan dismisses his congregation before turning to Carl, who hands back “Lucille”, and Negan leads him away, contemplating what to do with him.[8]

Just a side note, I can’t quite decide if Negan’s interest in boys this age is a reach-back to his own childhood or a possible streak of suppressed pedophilia. If you notice he has no problem childishly taunting and making fun of these male children in both instances cited from the Wikipedia summary of Negan’s background info.

Anyhow, I am certain there are far more deranged brutal men like these guys out there in this scary new world, that feed on the fear and loss of others weaker than themselves. And I believe we could see Shane approaching that dark and jagged road when he began scheming to kill Rick so he could have Lori and Carl and the unborn baby. Could Rick or even Daryl be driven to this foggy dark side? Carl? One of the women? Carol? Given her fragmented mentality of late, scaring and threatening little cookie-chomper boys into obedient silence and killing those troubled children who are enticed to “look at the flowers”, we could speculate she has seen herself starting down that road and is fighting to reject it consuming her.

When civilized modernity collapses the primal beast escapes through the rubble. But some better angels emerge and try their damnedest to protect everyone under their wings, even if it often times seems like a losing battle. Eventually the wings are pulled off, or the angel falls.

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The bodies of their two bludgeoned family members before them, the group watches as Negan returns with Rick. But Negan still doesn’t like the look in Rick’s eyes and face. No, he has not been mentally and emotionally beaten into complete submission … yet. Negan tosses the ax onto the ground and here is where I’m thinking Rick will lose his hand (as told in the books when The Governor hacks it off). But no. That would be too easy.

Negan gets a marker from a henchman and marks Carl’s forearm, then demands Rick pick up the ax and cut off his son’s hand. When Rick refuses he is threatened with another family member being bludgeoned to death, and another until he finally capitulates and chops off the boy’s arm. Carl’s face pressed into the gravel road the teen looks up to his flustered father and calmly tells him to “just do it, Dad.” And as Rick finally raises the ax to bring it down on Carl’s outstretched arm Negan stops him. You might say it was biblical, to be sure, like Abraham and his sacrificial son Isaac. That was the moment Rick and the group realized that God had forsaken them, and now Negan was… well … their god.

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And there’s the look Negan was waiting for. Rick is now his complete and total bitch. The once strong, righteous, and focused leader had vanished, like a warm trickle of urine down his legs.

Negan informs Rick and the rest how it will be from here on out. They will fully comply with their designated tribute to him, or they would have to do this shit all over again. He and his army of fuckwads leave our group behind in the rising sun burning off the fog of the long and bloody night into the fading warmth of their lost loved ones’ corpses. They collect their dead, bereaved but resolute Maggie informing Rick he had to begin making a plan and preparing to go to war with Negan and the Saviors, as her troubled unborn baby clings to her womb. She and Sasha head for the Hill Top community to seek the doctor, as an emotionally zombie-fied Rick takes the camper wheel to return to Alexandria…

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And as he looks to the rear view mirror for one final look he watches as a singular walker emerges from the woods to seek out and feed on the bloody puddled remains of Abraham’s and Glenn’s heads.

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Fuck this mother dick world.
Dr. Jenner was right.

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Even though we knew it was coming and it was going to be brutal, it still hit us like a baseball bat to the back of the head.

This is an episode I cannot watch again.

Bring on the tiger…

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MORE:

‘Walking Dead’ premiere slammed by Parents Television Council

Well, yeah, it was. But since when is the 9:00pm hour considered ‘family viewing’ time? And on a school night. But WTF are YOUR kids doing watching it, and YOUR kids, not somebody else’s kids. Tend to your own family, not everybody else’s. Oh, and do your kids play those violent video games? It’s cable TV, not network TV. As horrific as it was scroll any premium movie channel and find as bad or worse. A warning was given before and during the Sunday night broadcast. Nobody was forcing anybody to watch … except Negan forcing Rick and Co.

‘Walking Dead’ producers, cast talk shocking Season 7 premiere

“Walking Dead” grumble thread: Batter up

Fans were left devastated on Sunday night after two ‘Walking Dead’ characters were killed by Negan

‘The Walking Dead’ Season 7, Episode 1 Review: The Wrath Of Negan

‘The Walking Dead’ season 7 premiere had two awesome moments you probably missed

9 details you may have missed on ‘The Walking Dead’ season 7 premiere

SOME PICTURE UPDATES:

Cast goodbyes…

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They will find her…

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Later, babe…

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