It's not tomorrow yet for Jacob Heard...
There are spoilers below for both this episode and the comic book series of The Walking Dead.
A Brief Recap
Season 6 has stepped up it's game. The meandering pace of the first half has faded in favour of an action-filled romp, with genuinely tense atmosphere. Whilst character interaction certainly played a large part of this episode, it was the conflict between Alexandria and the Saviours that took the foreground, a confrontation that led to some genuinely tense and threatening scenes.
The first half of the episode focused, primarily, on the interactions between Rick's group pre-assault on Negan's compound. Character's who have been missing out on screen-time had it in spades, characters such as Tara, Heath, Gabriel and Tobin all getting some decent development. It's nice when the writers give the spotlight to some of the backgrounders, giving each of them some personality and a reason for why they want to fight.
With that all done, however, the episode turned it's focus into the planning of Rick's murderous onslaught on the Saviours. With all that we've heard about Negan's merry-band, it certainly feels as though they are the enemies here, but even still Not Tomorrow Yet is written in such a way that the lines between good and evil are blurred. Rick's speech to his group of followers in Gabriel's church reeks of the Governor, particularly his 'kill them all' mentality, and it's an interesting place to take the group. Fundamentally, they've always been the good guys, but it's becoming harder and harder to separate them from so-called evildoers they've been fighting the whole time: it's great stuff, and kudos to the writers.
Lennie James is an absolutely fantastic actor, and he had plenty of times to showcase his brilliance in this episode. Morgan is a character who causes great division amongst the fan-base, loved by some and hated by others. I myself fall into the former category, the moral compass always being one of my favourite characters in the group. It's always interesting to see a character take opposition to the majority vote, and the conflict between Rick and Morgan is one I can feel leading to something more, and I can't wait to see where it goes.
With the preliminary planning of the attack done, the group move into killing every Saviour they can get their hands on. The assault itself is vile, starting as a stealth attack; Rick's group attacking under the cover of darkness and slitting throats of men as they sleep. The acting in these scenes is phenomenal. Andrew Lincoln's Rick certainly seems to show some form of remorse as he plunges a knife into a sleeping man, yet his face quickly becomes a mask of stone as he wipes the blood from his blade. Contrarily, Steven Yeun (Glenn) and Corey Hawkins (Heath) show a great deal of doubt as to what they are doing - Heath so much so that Glenn has to take out his man. Yeun, once again, shows an excellent variety of facial expressions, raw emotion that is highly believable.
The assault, in true Walking Dead fashion, takes a turn for the worse. And it's tense. Really tense. As the camera rapidly cuts between each small group of characters, running and gunning through Negan's compound, there is a genuine level of fear: anyone could die at any time and you've gotten to a point with these characters where you don't want any of them to. There's an atmosphere in these scenes unlike any we've seen before, helped by the snappy cuts and dim lighting. And the ending is just as tense. As the characters escape into the sunshine, the assault seemingly a success, a voice over the radio dashes any hopes of happiness for our protagonists. Once again, a hostage situation has taken place, and things are looking bleak for Carol and Maggie.
What To Take Away From This Episode
There's a lot for fans of the comic book to chew on here. Negan has been a topic of much debate since his arrival on the scene, and the Polaroids of baseball bat victims taped above the bed of one of the Saviours adds more fuel to the fire. Because who was the man who looked at them? None other than Glenn who, spoilers, is bludgeoned to death by Negan in Issue 100. The baseball bat teasing has certainly been strong for everyone's favourite pizza boy, but saying for certain that Glenn is going to fall victim to Negan's brutality in the TV show is not without question. The list of people who could recieve Glenn's comic-fate is growing longer every episode and, with the hostage situation now in place, Carol's name has been added to the list.
I'd like to take a minute to talk about Tara. She had a lot of great moments in this episode, but I still can't help but feel her relationship with Denise is a little bit forced. Perhaps that's just because I'm not the biggest Denise fan in the world, but still something about it just feels... off somehow.
As much as I like Abraham, his scene with Rosita was questionable. Abraham is king of one-liners, that much is established, but there is a time and a place for them. As much as the dingle-berries line was funny, it felt out of place in what was a heart wrenching scene. I have a lot more empathy with Rosita than I did, her relationship ending bringing her forward as more than just Abraham's hot girlfriend.
On the note of relationships ending, what is it about this show's fascination with pairing characters together? I understand that it's a zombie apocalypse and you want that sort of affection from somebody; it reminds you that you can still feel, that happiness can still exist even when the world's gone to hell... but does every single character need to be involved in some form of romantic subplot? I mentioned the Denise/Tara situation before, but that's not to mention the Richonne fiasco that's annoyed me ever since it's happened. The characters are strong on their own - pairing them together does nothing to aid them, so why do it? Characters don't need to be in a romantic setting to be interesting and, in some cases, the character can be hampered by one existing. And whilst Carol and Tobin getting together makes sense, Tobin has not had the development necessary to warrant being in a relationship with one of the show's most important characters. His character starts and ends at "nice guy" and, while that is likely what the damaged Carol needs in her life, it'd be nice if we'd seen some other elements of Tobin's character beforehand.
Overall, I'd say this episode is one of the strongest of the season, perhaps one of the strongest in the show's history. From well-written dialogue to fast-paced action sequences, this episode had everything I expect from the Walking Dead and more.
Not Tomorrow Yet achieved it's purpose to the Nth degree; I'm hyped up for episode 13 now and can't wait to see where this plotline goes.
Jacob is a long-time Walking Dead enthusiast with a bizarre idea of what
constitutes a 'good character'. He tends to spend most of his time
crying into his pillow over Beth Greene's death that happened two years