The Walking Dead puts two characters in jeopardy and opens the door for Negan

Spoiler Alert: The following discusses plot points from Sunday night's The Walking Dead Season 6 episode, "Not Tomorrow Yet."

Editor at Large Aaron Sagers and Contributing Editor Tara Bennett give their reactions to this episode, written by Seth Hoffman, and directed by series EP & makeup guru Greg Nicotero.

Highlights

Aaron: A lot happened in this episode, but I don’t think it was too rushed. Nicotero took us from the comfort of Alexandria to an all-out, black ops-style attack on the Savior’s compound. The opening, in particular, worked for me. As Poor Old Shine’s song “Weeds or Wildflowers” played, Carol made cookie deliveries (acorn and beet cookies sound like something I could get right here in Brooklyn) as the warrior mother of Alexandria. This version of Carol seems to be getting used to the domesticity behind the walls – until the clouds literally roll in after Rick tells her they’re going to have to fight. She leaves a cookie at Sam’s grave and then heads back to war. It was a good character beat for Melissa McBride while setting up a lot of her plotline for the episode.

Tara:  Getting back to Carol's perspective was very welcome this week. We haven't really gotten some time with her since she got into a minor verbal throw-down with Morgan a few episodes ago, so finding out how she's dealing with the loss of Sam was important. I loved Tobin's assessment of her as the proverbial mother to the new community, soft and nurturing on the surface, but feral and unbelievable protective of her own when the chips are down. Like Tobin said, I think we're all a little scared and in awe of Carol at this point ... and seeing Carol process that in this hour provided some insight as to where she might be going as this Savior storyline plays out. Morgan's idea of owning who you are and not having to apologize for it has certainly made Carol look inward as she's processing that who she is in this world now isn't who everyone else needs to be, too. She obviously is very set on wanting Maggie to have the chance of experiencing motherhood and is willing to put her own life on the line to ensure it. However, the two look to be Negan hostages now, so it will be interesting to see how far Carol will achieve that for Maggie.

Aaron: Agreed. Tobin’s observance that Carol is the mom of Alexandria (“You’re a mom…it’s not the cookies or the smiles, it’s the hard stuff, the scary stuff. It’s how you can do it… you’re a mom to most of the people here”) was touching, and summed up how far this character has come.

Otherwise, the actual assault on the Saviors was raw, violent, and intense. Nicotero established an excellent cinematic pace, showing the Grimes Gang as an effective, militaristic killing machine, sneaking into bunks at night, and knifing the Saviors. After he does one ugly deed in cold blood, Glenn prevents Heath from going through with the same act. I always enjoy when these characters have a crisis of conscience without it devolving into too much handwringing (looking at you, Tyreese). But at the end of the day, they did what they had to do, having adopted a kill-or-be-killed proactive approach.

Tara:  Watching the Alexandrians raid and kill in cold blood was a tremendous game-changer for the show in that Rick and his family have been incredibly reactive regarding their lives during the better part of six seasons. In killing the Saviors as they slept, our "heroes" shifted into some seriously nebulous territory. Just imagine if the Wolves attacked Alexandria because of the dark actions they witnessed Rick and company execute in Terminus or elsewhere, and based on that, decided to be proactive so they weren't the next victims. The Wolves storyline ended up being pretty undercooked, so we really don't know why they were as nuts as they seemed, but adding that simple context would have certainly changed how we, the audience, looked at their actions. Maybe the same can be said here in terms of wondering if everyone in the satellite bunker was equally as awful as the thug sentries outside? It's all about context and perspective, which no one was given, and that's an interesting moral slippery slope to ponder. Is proactive survival going to be as heroic to watch and as easy to get behind as defensive survival? We shall see...

Aaron: It was chilling and intriguing that the Hilltop resident said of Rick, “The Saviors, they’re scary but this prick’s got nothing on you.” Does this guy actually think Negan and Rick have that much in common? We’ll see soon enough (And Rick punching the nose of a beheaded Walker meant to stand in for Gregory was exceptional),

Lowlights

Tara:  I'm not loving Abraham's turn away from Rosita toward Sasha. Yes, Abraham has always been a big, brash, mouthy guy. But in the beginning, there was a tenderness regarding his lost family and towards Rosita that feels completely and inexplicably lost, now. Saying to Rosita, "I thought you were the last woman on earth. You're not," is incredibly low and hateful when there's no reason to go there aside from him wanting to get with Sasha. Alexandria is a small place, and Rosita is no shrinking violet. If he thinks what he said isn't going to get back to Sasha, and she'd be OK with that in any way, then he's way dumber than I ever thought the character could be.

Aaron: The romantic relationship beats were a bit overwrought in the episode, but I understand the choice to highlight them. The Alexandrians have gotten comfortable enough that they are now focusing on living, and building more of a life. Likewise, they know that their world is getting bigger, and they have more options. As a result, Abraham dumps Rosita is a really cruel way. Yes, this felt rushed. Also, the Carol/Tobin relationship came out of nowhere, so it’s hard to be invested in it.

Tara:  I've got to say the Saviors are being drawn and portrayed about as mustache-twirly as can be. From the confrontation on the road with Daryl, Abraham and Sasha to the dude playing puppeteer with faux Gregory's head, they are feeling the least nuanced of any villains the show has presented. The show is too smart and has too many interesting variations on darkness personified for them to think burly, evil asshats are going to be interesting enough to sustain. Negan is one man. He needs a posse as interesting for an arc to best what's come before.  

Aaron: For a character I’ve had such hope for, Morgan is still being such a drag. I don’t mind his no-kill philosophy, but he’s such a mope that he’s not contributing anything nuanced at the moment. I really hope that changes soon. And Carol and Maggie captured: Again. Haven’t we seen this approximately three thousand times already? Of course, Glenn is going to freak, and this will likely not improve his chances of survival.

"Oh S--t!" Moment

Aaron: That wall of Polaroid mementos of what comic fans will recognize as Negan’s kills was disturbing. As our band of survivors killed off the Saviors, we get a sickening, foreboding feeling that this new adversary is far, far nastier than them. And for those still worried about Glenn’s fate, it can’t bode well that he’s the one who discovered the photos.

I also happened to quite enjoy Carol’s Walker kill in the pre-credits scene. Something about that zombie especially struck me. It was a gorgeous creation from KNB, and almost reminded me of a Walker version of the They Live aliens.

Tara:  Actually that walker was inspired by Dick Smith's Ghost Story. He was a huge influence on Nicotero and, as he likes to do, Greg had this homage walker created for his episode. I was lucky enough to see her up close and personal on the show's set in Georgia and there was something ethereal about watching her stagger right into camera over and over again.

As for my moment, I also got the bad mojo looking at what is obviously Negan's handiwork (via his favorite weapon) on the wall. However, with the two almost dead moments for Glenn this season, it just makes me question even more if the writers can possibly go where the comics go with character and have it make any emotional impact on the TV viewers. Three times is not the charm in the TV medium with death so I'm wondering if we should be worried for maybe Carol as she's already in Negan's clutches?

Overall

Aaron:  This was an overall very tight episode packed with action as well as effective emotional moments. I am a little worried for Carol after she received so much attention in this episode. The Savior threat is real now, and after Negan's name has been bandied about for a few episodes now, those Polaroids went a long way in making him feel like a terrifying bogeyman.  

Anyone else notice one of the Walkers who donated his head to the cause had his hands cut off? I could be reading too much into this, but it also seemed as if Rick rubbed his wrists a few times in this episode. I can’t help but wonder if Negan is going to cause the injury to Mr. Grimes that the Governor delivered in the comics.

Although he was a major d-bag, Abraham delivered yet another great saying this week (“Why are dingleberries brown? It’s just the way s*** is….”) followed by a classic Eugene moment of awkwardness. Eating one of Carol’s cookies, in a “Virginia is for Lovers” tee, he says, “Try one of these? They’re chewy, got some fight in them…” Perfect Josh McDermitt delivery.

Tara: There was a lot of meat to chew on in this episode but not much in terms of resolution, which wasn't as frustrating as expected. I'm looking forward to what outcomes unfold from the dilemmas faced by Carol, Morgan, Glenn and Rick with his brutal, goal-oriented task. It was certainly rough stuff watching Glenn have that little piece of moral purity be robbed from him when he took those Savior lives as they slept. He's doing what he believes is right, but it wasn't any easier to watch even knowing why. I hope the show really explored the threads left laid out in this episode and they aren't thrown to the wayside when it comes time for Negan's introduction.

What did you think of “Not Tomorrow Yet”?

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