|Photo Credit: The Walking Dead / Gene Page|
My thoughts are behind the cut. Warning that gifs in this post contain a graphic nature and spoilers.
My feelings exactly, Rick. Okay, so maybe not exactly.
Not Tomorrow Yet was an exceptional episode - entertaining and adrenaline pumping. An equal balance of character growth and action is something we can always happily expect from series veteran Gregory Nicotero. On this occasion, he highlights how Rick and other Alexandrians prepare for battle and then the battle itself.
Like many episodes before, this one lured us into a false sense of security. All peppy with the sun shining bright as Carol's dressed in her Sunday best cooking beet and acorn cookies. For a moment by herself, she contemplates Sam's death. Everything changes. No more facade or trying to figure out how to circumvent her feelings. Rick rolls the RV into the community. Good News: We've got food to last another month. Bad News: We're backed into a corner so dark Jung and all his therapy can't save us now. It's time to stop forging a normal future and go to war - again.
For all the instances The Walking Dead's explored characters handling killing walkers/people to survive, I thought this was one of its better examples. Over the course of the night and getting ready for their mission, a defining moment is made for them; how they handle their anxiety and hesitation, their past assaults, and ideas of the future. Carol was by far the most profound aspect, and it was the most refreshing to see her again. (Has Gimple forgotten she is a major part of the show? It feels like it.)
Suspense rises as the group prepares and then takes off like a shot. Rick plans on giving Negan Gregory's head, so they kill a walker with similar facial structures. The Saviors aren't phased by the head they bring on a stick and taunt Eddie with it. Rick and our guys kill them. And, then before you know it they're surrounding Negan's compounds and killing people in their sleep. It's adrenaline pumping, and also defining. All of the skills and luck it took to survive are harnessed into this assassination attempt.
Nicotero provides a good balance of characters handling their insane maneuver of leverage. Their reconnaissance mission was brutal and bloody. Yet as they're murdering people who hadn't attacked them yet, remembering it's all foresee, the lore of Negan keeps us rooting for Rick's crew - as stomach-churning as it is. Ducking between hallways and corners and blasting through doors trying to kill the Saviors quietly was intensely claustrophobic. Usually we're waiting for walkers to pop up and gnaw someone's face off. During this mission we're waiting for one of the Saviors to wake up and ruin everything. So much intense action takes place in twenty minutes.
As always, my only qualm is just how logic seemed to go out the window. Since season one our group has been hustling for a safe haven, and when they arrive at one, they're suspicious, an outsider is the villain, their home falls to ruins, they're off running again. I'll regress my strong stance last week about the group going after Negan before he comes after them. But part of me felt that this recent leg in Negan's storyline was still a bit of rinsing and repeating from season's past. But I'll digress. It's the M.O. of the apocalypse: nowhere and no one is safe.
Some new revelations came out of nowhere as well: Carol's relationship with Tobin? Maggie being forced - she didn't volunteer, the writers made that crap up - to join the group on this mission? Yeah, no, this second half of the season might be slightly better than the first half. But to me some gaping holes still took place with plunging characters into different emotional and head places for the sake of getting to Negan. People gotta deal with their demons, but some of the developments were random and forced, at best.
Once again Negan's presence is amplified. The stakes only keep getting higher. Despite some of the questionable writers choices, this word of mouth about Negan has upped his legend to hair-raising heights.
Speaking of which, can Morgan meet Lucille please? I begged this question last week but it bears repeating. His arc was completed back in episode two this season. We saw how he developed his new philosophy after season four's Clear. But now - he really tried to mess with Carol's head. Ah, no son. Not gonna happen.
Or at least, it's going to happen but I won't tolerate it. The reason why Rick didn't see red on Morgan hiding the wolf was because Carol told those involved to keep it to themselves. Rick never found out. So the entire confrontation of Rick versus Morgan is mute at this point. My anticipation is that Morgan messes something up with Negan and his philosophy is used against him by the Saviors.
But like another relationship that was sprung on Carol, her one with Morgan unnerved me the most: She gives him the minimal amount of respet, at hiding his ludicrous mistake, and what does he do: He tries to convince her that by not telling Rick, she's guilty of hiding the Wolf too. She's covering his ass, and this is how he repays her?
Their scene was filmed in a clever way, however. For 99% of the conversation, Carol is facing away from Morgan with her back to her. As he brings up the Wolf and her covering for him, it's almost like he's a voice in the back of her mind; her guilt weighing down on her conscious. Nice touch, Nicotero.
However, my patience with Morgan was been exceedingly tested. First when he lured Denise into taking care of the Wolf. Second, when Morgan attempted to bring up Carol's daughter and husband in No Way Out after she shot the Wolf. And now with this little stunt by saying her not telling Rick about his actions makes her guilty of capturing the Wolf too.
It made not only a little peeved that he was trying to get inside her head, but also for Carol to say that Alexandria would've been pissed at Denis for helping him out. That's a lie. The way that scene is framed with her huddled into a corner barely giving the Wolf eye contact, she had no idea Morgan was hiding him. Yes, she helped the Wolf, but Morgan got her to do so by making wrongful impressions on a doubtful, scared young woman. It's wrong.
In dealing with Carol, he draws on her past to make her question her motives. Like Eastman did, he wants to force her to reconsider who she's become. It's an interesting storyline tactic but honestly - it's not his place. Part of me wants to like Morgan; to excuse that he's so terrified of slipping into who he once was, he's projecting his past onto others. Morgan doesn't have to like killing people, and I think there's a part of him that once he starts down that road, he'll like what he does. But his past is riddle with instability; not behavior we'd probably label a sociopath terrorist in the society. He may have found refuge with Eastman, but he was living in a fantasy. We don't have enough therapists to help dig him out of his conflicting feelings and beliefs.
Like anyone else he has a right to oppose people's beliefs and Rick's strategies, but he has no right to harangue people into following his philosophy. His constant probing with her are not deep and meaningful; it's just about him quieting her against his beliefs and what he thinks is right. He'll stand up against Rick in a man-to-man talk, but he only chides Carol. He knows there's something there for him to meddle with and pick at.
These survivors, especially Carol, have killed people like Rosita said - not because they want to but because they have to; nobody like it unless you're crazy. And I resent Morgan continually making Carol out to be crazy. Law and order is the jury of their own beliefs. It's dog-eat-dog, and Carol is Lassie compared to the Kujos lurking in the shadows. And, Morgan is just a dick.
Just as refreshing as it was for the community to unite against the walkers. again it's nice that they continue to band together. And, Alexandria is not a Ricktatorship. He, Daryl, and Maggie may have negotiated the terms of their deal to kill the Saviors, but the group decided for themselves what to do. They're not taking a chance that Lady Luck is on their side against Negan. Everyone spends the night before waiting for tomorrow to come.
He said he was dead the minute he stepped in to enemy territory. Every day he woke up and told himself, rest in peace. Now get up and go to war. And then after a few years of pretending he was dead... he made it out alive. That's the trick of it, I think. We do what we need to do and then, we get to live....Because this is how we survive. We tell ourselves... that we are the walking dead.Rick's speech in season five really comes into play for several different characters - how their nerves keep them up at night (Carol), forces them not to ignore their true feelings (Abraham), and find a sense of unity before departure (Tara and Denise).
Carol is talked about more below, so for now I just want to highlight a few other key players.
Aaron - just a little unicorn of humanity. After the Wolves' attack Aaron's not taking anymore chances. When Morgan voices his opinion about all life being freaking precious, Aaron opposes - he doesn't want another incident like the Wolves to go down. Even when he is killing Saviors - one in particular that is like Hagrid-esque giant he says: If it wasn't going to be us, it was going to be you - meaning that these guys' reckoning was going to come no matter what. Even during the Wolves attack and zombie massacre, Aaron had a certain tact. Every character is faced with the "either you or me" crisis, and Aaron doesn't hesitate taking down the other guy.
Gabrielle - He's still a priest. But he's one with a sense of what he needs to do to help Rick; to repay him for taking him in and for the wrongs he's done. He doesn't tread into the compound like the others, and instead stays outside to monitor the perimeter. As a Savior tries to get away, Gabriel like a snake in the grass creeps up on him, tells the guy to lower his weapon, says a prayer and kills him. It's a pretty insane moment, and even though we've seen Gabrielle unravel before, this newfound sense of helping Rick is gonna have to change him in some way - I'd imagine. Will this conviction last?
Abraham - Oh, Abraham. His love triangle with Sasha and Rosita was conflicting on many levels. We were asking how he was going to leave her. The night before their quest, Abraham honestly just freaks out. If this is his last night on Earth, he wants to be with Sasha. Packing his stuff and being confronted by her he says, When I first met you, I thought you were the last woman on Earth. You're not. It was truthful but so cruel. We knew he wanted something else, but like any major break-up, we didn't want it to end like this. It'd be interesting to see how this develops further - if Sasha becomes aware of how he broke up with Rosita; if that affects her feelings towards him. And how we look at Abraham from now on.
Rosita - After Abraham breaks up with her, it's interesting to see how much fire there was in her behavior. The night before facing the Saviors, she was crying her heart out. The next morning, she was ready to **** some Saviors up. Since we first met Rosita, she's always come across as a sturdy warrior; able to accept that killing people happens. Though she struggled with Eugene's lie and how many people died to protect his worthless cause, it didn't necessarily break her - as far as we know. She's struggled but perservered. After Abraham treating her like crap, she's gonna pull through stronger than ever.
Tara and Denise - Settling in at home, Tara is terrified of what's coming next. Part of her is ready to go into battle with Rick. But his speech about the Saviors rings too true to the Governor. I liked that the writers took the time to point this out; the differences between her support of Rick versus being lured into the Governor's vengeance. Fearing that she is not going to return, or something will happen to Denise, she says I love You. Of course, we're left in the air with Denise saying it back but we all know - they love each other. Their moment was a nice way to add depth of who our group is battling for; it's for their loved ones, for everyone.
The Feels are Real. This is Not A Drill.
Of all the mayhem that has transpired on this show, Lucille might be the death of me. I'm actually considering not watching that episode, if I can get any kind of intel about when this scene will pop up. To be honest, the feels are real. This is not a drill. I can't stomach losing Glenn.
Yes, his fake-out in Thank You was uneventful in the long run. However, the moment Nicholas and Glenn fell off that dumpster into the hoard of walkers, a Katy-sized hole was made in our living room wall. I lept out of my chair and into another room. I just couldn't watch. If it turns out another character besides Glenn meets Negan's wrath, perhaps I'll pull through. But honestly - I don't know right now.
He never killed a human being in six seasons. He's probably the most innocent cinnamon roll next to Judith. Heck, Gabriel isn't even a series regular for two seasons and he killed someone. And then Glenn killed ten people in the span of thirty minutes. He did what was called for, but it's still hard to believe he's going down this road.
Can we get Steven Yeun an Emmy already? Like McBride and Lincoln, he is long overdue for recognition as Glenn. His performance only continues to grow. Like the moment he with Heath started killing the Saviors. The look of anxiety on his face as he killed the first Savior was gut-wrenching. It's such an honest moment of a character having to stomach something that you can't go back from; you can't fix; you can't press a re-do button. It will be with him forever.
Is not being able to kill people a red herring for characters? It seemed like that before when Tyrese met his horrific end; people not suspecting Beth would get killed, and so on. Now that Glenn's managed to go through with it, will he unravel to the point he'll killed off? His sanity or balance to remain level-headed isn't going to disappear in a second, but with Maggie's kidnapping, there's a stepping stone he's made by killing the Saviors: he'll do anything against humans, not just walkers, to get her back.
My only struggle with my precious cinnamon roll is that he didn't really stand up to Maggie in telling her she can't go. Yeah, they were taking bets of where is safer...but why did only Carol stand up to Rick about Maggie? She sees the importance of the life she's going to be given, and it's a bit of a blindspot that he doesn't take the same consideration, especially after Lori. No matter how determined Rick is, him risking Maggie's life while she's pregnant is out of character. He might have brought her along to deal with Gregory, but that was a meeting. This is a killing spree.
Maggie tagged along because she feels responsible for making the deal with Gregory. But it wasn't her responsibility. If any of their crew were killed, everyone who went volunteered. If they didn't make a deal with Gregory and the Saviors attacked Alexandria anyways, she couldn't possibly blame herself for not making a deal. I was just perplexed that Glenn didn't sternly step up and say: for the good of our baby, you can't go with us.
As we wait for Negan to appear, and speculate that Glenn is going to die, did the show break the fourth wall? So many deaths on the show weren't 100% expected. Some were played straight out the comics, some deaths from the comic book characters were given to original characters. With all of this hype for Glenn's death, a real death, are our expectations too high? have we been spoiled too much that when it happens we feel more adrenaline than shock / devastation / a sense of loss?
I'm hoping all the signs point to Glenn but someone else nips it in the bud. He's slicker than a cat; he's had like twelve lives. Can we make him have just one more so this doesn't happen to him? Some have speculated that Scott Gimple has led people to believe it won't be Glenn but someone else - Abraham and Daryl. Some fans are even Maggie and Judith..So.... Obviously, Morgan is my first pick...but I guess we'll all wait and pray.
Of all the characters on this show, Carol is by far one of the best, if not the best. Everyone already knows this. But I question if the writers do too.
There's something going on with season six I'd like to call: pin the plot on the character. The name of it is exactly what you might picture: Gimple with a bulletin board filled with character's pictures and he's literally pinning ideas of he think might work. It might also be called authorial contrivance.
Not Tomorrow Yet brought Carol back into the picture in a very substantial way. Who isn't happy seeing more of Melissa McBride? The issue, both good and bad, is how she's used and for what reasons.
Killing walkers is acceptable. Killing people is acceptable to a point if they threaten you or try to cook/eat your friends. Everyone acknowledges having to slay their loved ones as they turn into zombies or take shots at their enemies, but it's the actual decision and action of killing people that gets buried; it's shoved back into people's minds until it becomes too much - it bends, breaks, or re-shapes them.
Carol's withdrawn after she's killed people and walkers, enemies and friends. She'll kill in order to protect. Sometimes her hand has been forced, sometimes she took the matter into her own for what she thought was best, sometimes she just showed how resilient and resourceful her bad-ass is. Yet as we intermittently experience Rick's meltdowns over his leaderships' consequences, Carol's spiral is a much more subtle refined process.
She has the unyielding role as the lone warrior and the matriarch.
For the former, by the writer's hands she's pushed forward on her own ever since season four. Faced with killing Karen and David, with Lizzie and Mika's deaths on her hands, and plenty of others, she's hidden all of these experiences. The other group members saw their lack of presence and assumed what happened. Nobody really asked or pried - going back to what everyone accepts as the world they live in. We never saw how she dealt with that loss, even in an episode like Consumed where she and Daryl were trailing Beth's whereabouts. We gathered her confusion, her sense of loss of self and what she wants to be in this world and how she does it. But her and Daryl's demons and issues were quieted more than talked about; Daryl killing and setting fire to walkers caught in the abused women's shelter became a continuing metaphor of Carol's identity being burned and her rising again. But, it's the lack of understanding about what she's done that has started to eat away her.
Unlike Daryl telling her that they ain't ashes, I think she's felt like ashes for a long time - no matter how great of a leader she is. The deaths are racking up, and she doesn't retreat or explode like Daryl or Rick. She doesn't have a closer extended family like Maggie and Glenn, or Richonne. But as she's been on her own, the pragmatism is also starting to get to her - how she compartmentalizes the deaths and tries to justify them over and over again to herself. As horrible as her life with Ed before the apocalypse, she gained skills that's helped her: she's resourceful, self-reliant, adjusts her necessities for every situation. These things have helped her stay alive but they also help her build a wall to protect.
That's where being a matriarch comes in: she takes care of everyone else before herself. Which is why in the beginning of Not Tomorrow Yet, a glance of her forging a normal day was more sad than the peppy hippie music used to set the tone. She's on her own, cooking in order to distract herself from the pain. She's good at playing a role of enjoying the day; making cookies; seeing people smile. But it's also a story she's living out until she realizes that the wars against other people and within never officially cease.
One of my favorite moments of her little montage was when she was gathering beets outside of Alexandria. A walker comes up and she kills it. Blood splatters against her crispy clean shirt. The next shot, we see her choosing another outfit. It's simple: she's trying to be someone else; to be some version of herself she can maintain; managing the warrior versus the matriarch.
Not Tomorrow Yet continued to show the dichotomy of being the warrior and the "mom", even if she's so deep in grief in pain. She still went to the frontlines to help Rick. She doesn't like killing people but it has to be done. In seeing Maggie also out with the group against the Saviors, she recognizes that Maggie is a mother-to-be. She shouldn't be out there. She shouldn't be killing with a baby on the way. She understands the precious cost that's going to be made if something goes awry; something Rick should be aware of. So she stands up to him and Maggie. She should be someone else, just like Carol should be.
But this episode also showed how out of touch the original Atlanta members are to each other; how they haven't treated her like family for a long time. Which is strange - because the writers make Alexandria out to be this sprawling metropolis with a huge population and always something to do/you rarely see the same people twice; yet so sparce and small that there's nothing else to do except interact with the same people repeatedly. Maybe it's Carol's thing to grieve on her own; forge her own identity outside of the group and in her own world; taking care of Judith, other kids, the guards, etc. But as much as she is contributing to the minutiae of what makes Alexandria feel safe and normal, she also feels so far out of reach from the community, it's jarring.
Season six has doled out establishing relationships and friendships. It'd work if a sudden romantic entanglement didn't happen out of nowhere.
Tobin is kind; he doesn't take Carol for granted. He sees her power as a mother figure to the community, but that she is also something more. Her strength as a person was re-assessed and confirmed. I liked that. When they sat on his porch and he laid her strength and giving her confirmation of it, a part of me appreciated that.
Part of me is also just felt it was forced. Where are some of the original relationships besides Richonne and Maggie and Glenn? Where is her relationship with Daryl? Why are they avoiding each other? Did I miss a fight that they had? They haven't interacted since season five, and barely then-some. Why this disservice to one of the show's best relationships, whether you believe it's romantic or platonic. New characters are refreshing. Alexandrians actually proving themselves makes the show feel more united. But it's that authorial contrivance thing going on again. Like instead of Morgan and Rick going head-to-head with their belief systems, Carol is used - because?
On the issue of Morgan versus Carol, Rick would've made a much better counterpart; their pasts and brutality connecting and defining each other. At the beginning of the season, their inability to not know each other as much as they thought was a major development. But that's all dropped off and we only get snippets once every three episodes. Carol's taken that mantelpiece for Morgan to toil against and it doesn't fit as smoothly as it should. Morgan is having an affect on her, and it's not necessarily a well-developed one because of his asshole behavior.
Carol has suffered and endured. She's loss and loss and loss and loss and becomes a leader. As the stakes have been raised and her family has been threatened, she adjusts the necessities of what she has to do in order to keep her and others alive. And instead of running like she attempted in season four, she's sticking around. She's going through hell to help people. She also has a voice. And in Not Tomorrow Yet, she gained more of it back.
How does Carol keep pushing forward? She adjusts. She re-calculates. She speaks up. She takes action. As she was kidnapped with Maggie by the Saviors, she seemed broken, even shell-shocked. Is it another mask she's putting on? like the helpless homemaker role she played entering Alexandria? I don't know. I hope in time she'll find a mask that makes everything more bare-able. She'll burn through how she's punishing herself, the guilt, the despair, and keep going forward. Whatever it is, something is gonna be re-awakened. And I hope her original extended family takes notice.
I just missed Carl.
+ It's funny - I used to sit through Talking Dead during season three and thought it was horrible. Now getting back into watching it three seasons later, nothing has changed.
Sex jokes are made when anything sounds like an accidental innuendo. Some celebrity panelists are unbearable to listen to. Like J.B. Smoove demeaning all the female characters. UGH.