The Walking Dead: Not Tomorrow Yet

"You're supposed to be someone else."

I am reminded of a Buffy quip: "Is murder always a crime?"

This edge-of-your-seat episode explored a difficult moral dilemma. Rick's people are accustomed to fighting back, and they've gotten extremely good at it, but deliberate mass murder is a different kettle of fish. Did our heroes just walk over the line and become one of the vicious groups they've had to take out in the past? Was it justified because the people they killed were murderers?

The build-up to the raid was so delightfully intimate and homey, and much of it was about Carol. Of all our characters, she's the one who has been changed the most by the zombie apocalypse. Even now when everyone knows who Carol really is, she is still baking and distributing acorn-beet cookies to try to make her peeps smile. At the same time, she is brooding about the eighteen human beings she has killed. She also left a single cookie on little Sam's grave.
Carol's list: 
R (who is R?)
K, D (Karen and David)
L (Lizzie)
Terminus/Courtyard 3?
CandleWoman 4
W's 7 (which would be the Wolves)
Is Carol changing? She went on the raid, but chose to stay on the perimeter and protect Maggie instead of wading into the action. Why hasn't Carol told Rick about Morgan hiding the Wolf guy? Is Carol coming around to Morgan's point of view?

All of the pre-raid couple stuff was a solid reminder of what they all have to live for: Glenn and Maggie at their kitchen table discussing her need to participate; Abraham choosing that particular time to break it off with Rosita; Tara telling Denise "I love you" for the first time because of her memories of being part of a "kill them all" raid once before. Tobin just got more interesting because he chose to begin a relationship with Carol while seeing her for exactly who she is, and knowing he can't do the things that she does.

Rick pretended to consult with his people about a kill decision that had already been made, and Morgan tried to talk them into giving the Saviors a chance to surrender, but was ignored. The religious symbolism in this episode was hilariously overt: Rick standing in front of the altar talking about Saviors and a guy named Jesus; Tara confessing to Father Gabriel in the car; Father Gabriel reciting John 14:2 before killing one of the Saviors. In an episode that was ultimately about duality, Father Gabriel appears to have finally reconciled both sides of himself. He started out as cowardly and despicable, but like many characters on The Walking Dead, he has emerged from his personal crucible as someone else entirely. He's an interesting someone now. I loved how he told Rick that his vestments would make it harder to be seen in the dark.

I also really enjoyed the scene with the three heads, because it was just so Walking Dead. (Was it also a little dig at the Holy Trinity?) Mimicking the scene at Hilltop where Rick, drenched with blood, looked around at the Hilltop people and said, "What?", Rick punched out the fake Gregory head, looked at Andy and Jesus, and said, "What?" Hilltop Andy's reaction that the Saviors were scary but Rick was scarier actually made me feel better about my guys, since I was certain the raid would end badly.

Of course, it did end badly, even though it started quite well. Coordinated take-out of the guards, careful infiltration with machine guns, and they even found the armory and took it, as planned. Coldblooded murder wasn't easy, though, and Glenn, who has always been the heart of the group, gave us the moment with the strongest emotional punch. Glenn's horrified expression as he killed the sleeping Savior was heartbreaking. But when he gently pushed Heath aside so that Heath wouldn't have to commit murder for the first time too, that moved me to tears.

That was probably why they put those Polaroids above the guy's bed. Who the hell would keep photos of smashed in heads above their bed? Was it a not-so-subtle reminder that these guys that Glenn was killing had beaten innocent people to death? (There were twenty photos, by the way. I counted them because I thought they were making a comparison to the eighteen people Carol has killed. Not quite.) Sadly, Glenn's gesture was for nothing, since Glenn and Heath had to massacre the Saviors on the other side of the armory door. Glenn couldn't save Heath from killing someone, after all.

Michonne didn't have much in the way of lines in this episode, but she did make an important remark: "Just want to know which one of them was Negan." Rick's team never knew who they were killing. They didn't do enough research on the Saviors before taking them out. And now, the Saviors have taken Carol and Maggie.

I noticed that there were only men in the Savior compound, no couples, no women, and that it was a woman's voice telling our guys that they had Carol and Maggie. Does Negan force men and women to live separately, like some sort of religious community? Is that why they're called "Saviors"? (That's a guess. I haven't read the graphic novels.)


-- The Savior compound featured a huge satellite dish. It made the place look oddly futuristic.

-- Loved the reference to Carol's brilliance in securing the armory alone during the Wolf attack.

-- The way Glenn described how he couldn't stop seeing the worst when he closes his eyes made me think about Noah's horrific death in the revolving door. (Talk about symbolism.)

-- Aaron and Jesus keep choosing to stay with Rick and company. It makes me like them more.

-- Does Eugene live with Abraham and Rosita? Really? After what Eugene did?

-- Was that Daryl's motorcycle? The one he had to leave in the woods when he took the tanker?

-- Did Tara and Heath leave for their two-week whatever before the cliffhanger? If they did, it's probably because Alanna Masterson (Tara) was nine months pregnant when this episode was filmed. (It was mentioned on Talking Dead.)

-- The music choices at the beginning and the end of the episode were interesting. In the opener, it was weeds or wildflowers. At the end, it was "don't you ever tame your demons, but always keep them on a leash."

-- What was Morgan welding? Was it a prison door? For whom? Himself?

Notes from Talking Dead

This week's guests were J.B. Smoove, Ross Marquand (Aaron) and Alanna Masterson (Tara). The focus of the discussion was whether or not our characters can still be good guys when they're killing people. Smoove was hilarious; this wasn't his first time as a guest on this show.

Alanna Masterson's most interesting revelation was that she was nine months pregnant when this episode was filmed (it was a girl). Chris Hardwick referred to Abraham's penchant for terrific lines as "Abrahamlet". Ross Marquand does great impressions; he did Michael Caine, Jason Statham and Al Pacino in Walking Dead situations. And we learned that the three walker heads were from a cast of Greg Nicotero's head. Very funny.


Tobin: "They're the best beet and acorn cookies I've ever eaten."
Carol: "Are you screwing with me?"

Tobin: (re: cigarettes) "Those things'll kill you. Got another one?"
A little callback to "JSS".

Abraham: "Why are dingleberries brown? It's the way shit is."

Rosita: "Tell me why!"
Abraham: "When I first met you, I thought you were the last woman on earth. You're not."
I like Abraham. I really, truly do. But this, as a reason to break up, is downright insulting. Rosita is cool and strong and a great companion, not to mention beautiful. Abraham should have leveled with her about his reasons for breaking up instead of insulting her.

Eugene: (re: Carol's cookies) "You try one of these? They're chewy. They, uh, got some fight in them."
No, Carol's cookies are not at all metaphorical for Rick's people. Not at all.

Rick: "Why are you still wearing that?"
Father Gabriel: "It's still who I was. I think. And it'll be harder for them to see me in the dark."

Rick: "What?"
Andy: "The Saviors. They're scary, but those pricks got nothing on you."

Savior: "You gonna kill me, Padre? Padre?"
Father Gabriel: "Let not your heart be troubled."
Savior: "You're just as dead as me."
Father Gabriel: "In my father's house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you."
Savior: "You're all dead."
Father Gabriel: "I go to prepare a place for you."
Savior: "Blood's coming."
Father Gabriel: (kills him) "Amen."
This scene, and the one with Glenn committing his first two murders, were the ones that stayed with me. Very effective.

Another outstanding episode, in my opinion. Four out of four acorn-beet cookies both tough and strangely sweet,

Billie Doux loves science fiction but hates horror, and is confused about why she loves The Walking Dead.


KB said...

I believe the R stands for Ryan. He was Lizzie and Mika's Father. I thought she killed him right after he died but before he turned. This list would indicate that she maybe committed a mercy killing.
I was trying to remember what happened to Daryl's motorcycle. I think the guy and girl took it from him. So I guess they were running from the Saviors as well then? and if the saviors have the bike then it probably didn't end well for those two.

Logan Cox said...

I thought I saw a few women in the shootout. Maybe they were just long-haired, slender men.

Seems like Morgan's just building a prison to devote his time to something nonviolent but useful. As Jesus proved, that little makeshift cell wasn't very secure.

"Abrahamlet" is a perfect word for it. This episode might have gone too far with the "dingleberries" line when he dramatically dumps Rosita.

I was dreading Abraham breaking Rosita's heart, and that particular line; the actor's delivery almost made it seem like he was leveling with her, whereas in the comic he's cold and dismissive when he says it. Hopefully he doesn't keep following in his comic counterpart's footsteps, otherwise I'm really gonna hate him.

As for Eugene living with Abraham and Rosita, it doesn't surprise me considering how connected they are. And he and Abraham did reconcile. I never thought what he did was all that bad; in fact. Compared to the things some of the other characters have done, being scared, telling lies and getting people's hopes up is pretty tame.

Chicago Mike said...

Hi Billie,
Longtime reader first time posting. Love your blog. I thought this was a good episode with a lot of tension. After they entered the Saviors compound I kept waiting and expecting something bad to happen to someone in the group. Killing for the first time for Glenn and Heath is bad, but I thought someone would get killed or seriously injured. After everyone exited I thought to myself it can't be that easy and then Michonne asked which one was Negan. Nice cliffhanger for the upcoming episodes of the season.

Anonymous said...

There were a couple of women in the compound. One was in the group Heath and Glenn shot through the door.
One of my problems with Rick's assault is he's charging in killing everyone...but what if there had been children or babies in the compound? Would they kill them too? Some of the people may be bad, but just like the Gov's group, some probably aren't. There's just no way to know.

Billie Doux said...

Thanks, KB. You're probably right about the R being Ryan.

Logan, much agreement about Michael Cudlitz. He's a terrific actor. Didn't he have his own cop show awhile back?

Chicago Mike, congratulations on posting your first comment! I hope it's the first of many. :)

Anonymous, I didn't even think about children -- good point. I strongly doubt Rick's commandos would have killed kids for any reason, though.

Marianna said...

I am so angry at Maggie for going! When women in the military find out they're pregnant, they get sent home immediately. And just because she made the deal doesn't mean she has to go. There are things she can do to be a part of it without going and putting her child at risk. She's putting more than her child at risk. I wouldn't be surprised if Carol and Maggie wouldn't have been caught if it had just been Carol and Carol hadn't had Maggie to look out for. Maggie is used to putting the group ahead of herself so she's putting the group ahead of her child, but she needs to start thinking of her child as part of the group because everyone else is going to think of it as the most important part of the group (or tied with Judith).