The time has come, folks. The long, long wait is over. And the wait kept growing and growing and growing.
Sure, I didn’t expect AMC to spill the beans in the cold open. I don’t think anyone did. How would AMC keep a ratings smash going if people tuned away after they found out it wasn’t Daryl? As much as I hated waiting, it was the smartest move.
The best moments of the night didn’t come from the multiple farewells we had, but from the scenes between Rick and Negan. The interplay between them made me yearn for an alternate universe where the “cliffhanger moment” was already behind us so the viewers could move on and enjoy the show already.
This episode tries hard to be harrowing — almost nauseatingly so. The flashes of misdirection come at a rapid fire pace and it never feels like the show respects the time you’re investing in it, further teasing you even after you’ve pained over the possible outcomes for months.
Even though these might be contestants for the most savage human deaths in the series’ history, this is some of Greg Nicotero’s worst prosthetic work yet, making the scene a laugh riot instead of instilling heart-wrenching dread. Glenn’s eye-popping exit worked in two dimensions, but from page to screen? It looks downright amateur. Even after the beating, the slow crawl of the animatronic hands pulled me out of the moment even more. It didn’t feel up to snuff.
In contrast, composer Bear McCreary continues to display his excellence in scoring the show’s somber moments. Rick’s breakdown upon the RV was uber chilling and nearly poignant. It’s so hard to imagine the pain this man is going through (and even harder to imagine that he’s still able to function after all this heartbreak and loss).
The decision to have Daryl attack Negan was interesting. The way I see it, it’s an attempt to align some fans of Daryl to the dark side, sending blame towards him for Glenn’s death. Even though it was Negan swinging the bat, I’m confident that this was done to make Daryl less sympathetic so that his more fervent fans could accept a possible Daryl death later in the season.
Fast-forwarding a bit, it felt overdone to have Negan continue to break Rick down by using Carl. Even though I can appreciate a good biblical allegory, enough is enough. Though I can’t really complain. An excellent villain has been born with Negan. Jeffrey Dean Morgan steals every scene he’s in and he never failed to bring a morbid smile to my face.
At the end of the show, we once again have several dangling plot threads that will be explored in later episodes while other stories are shelved. Next week, we’ll be visiting Morgan and Carol at the mysterious new Kingdom. And the following week, we’ll get an inside look at Negan’s compound. With a group that spends so much time apart, it’s getting harder to believe that they’re devastated when one of them stops breathing. Even though I have a strong distaste for how the last two episodes were executed, this was a solid opening of what looks to be a new era for the zombie drama.