Monday, October 24, 2016

Preparedness Review of The Walking Dead Episode 701: The Day Will Come When You Won't Be

Episode 701: The Day Will Come When You Won't Be

Abraham: Suck my nuts.

Synopsis:  Negan kills Abraham, and when Daryl tries to intervene and punches him, Negan turns and kills Glenn. When Rick threatens to kill him one day in retaliation, Negan takes him in the camper and forces him to wade through a crowd of walkers to retrieve his own hatchet to display his power over the group.   When Rick still displays defiance, Negan orders him to cut of Carl's hand, but relents at the last minute when Rick begs him not to make him do such a horrific thing. Negan tells the group that he will be at Alexandria in one week to receive his tribute, takes Daryl hostage, and leaves the group, who load the bodies of their friends onto the camper and proceed to the Hilltop to get care for Maggie.  

The Day Will Come When You Won't Be is a solid hour of new bad guy Negan, who loves playing power games, breaking Rick's will and forcing him to comply with the "New World Order."  It opens with Rick threatening to kill Negan in retribution, but Negan, not impressed drags Rick to the camper with Rick's hatchet and goes on a short road trip to the log barricade built by the Saviors.   There, he forces Rick to wade into a crowd of walkers to retrieve his hand ax from the top of the RV.  During this scene, there are flashbacks to the events at the end of the last season, and while resting in relative safety on top of the RV, he relives in flashback the events from a few minutes before. 

He's just getting started. Or Something.
Negan chooses Abraham as his victim, and pummels the man once with his bat, Lucille.   Abraham, who might be dead, but was never defeated, utters "Suck my nuts," to his killer's face before Negan beats him to death.  He then orders Rosita, whom he has correctly surmised had some sort of previous relationship with Abraham, to look at his blood-soaked "vampire bat."  When she cannot, Daryl leaps up and punches Negan.  Once Daryl is subdued, Dwight asks to kill the man with his own crossbow.  Negan tells him know, but then immediately pivots and brains Glenn twice.   Glen manages to mutter a goodbye to Maggie, then collapses as Negan beats him to death.   

Back in the present, on top of the RV, Rick hears Negan losing his patience, and explains to Rick that he should imagine what could happen if Rick does not toe the line.   Rick, picturing the other members of the group falling to Lucille, makes it back inside, but it is clear he is still seething.   Negan tells him it must be "rough" for him, having been in charge so long.   He cleans the hatchet with alcohol and gives it back to Rick, telling him he can still live a long and productive life.

They drive back to the murder site, where the other hostages are waiting.  Negan orders Carl to come forward and he is held to the ground.   The head Savior then orders Rick to chop off his son's left hand to show loyalty.   As Rick lifts the hatchet after begging Negan to not make him do this (and Carl telling him to get it over with), Negan relents now that he sees Rick is truly broken.

Negan tells him that the Saviors will be in Alexandria in one week for the first tribute, and then the bigger group withdraws, taking Daryl as a hostage.   Negan sees potential in the man, who Negan says "isn't a bitch like someone else we know."  

The rest of the group is left weaponless and grieving.   Maggie is inconsolable, but stands unsteadily and announces she is marching to Hilltop alone while the rest of them go back and prepare to fight the Saviors.  Rick tells her it's useless;  they will kill Daryl if they resist. The group slowly pulls itself together and load the bodies onto the RV and depart.  As they leave, a lone walker wanders onto the scene and begins eating the scraps of flesh left on the ground from Glenn.

All in all, it is a solid, well-acted episode, but I was bothered with the amount of gore and the and the gratuitous violence on display.   This is an episode I will never re-watch because it is just too disturbing.  We have had deaths and gore on The Walking Dead before, but the gory deaths of walkers can be disconnected.  These are monsters, things, that are out to devour our heroes.   The deaths of two characters so central to the story of this series in such a shocking way just seemed way over the top.

At the center of it all is Negan, played by the excellent Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who delivers his "lessons" without a trace of the Governor's underlying malevolence.   He is a true sociopath.

Preparedness Discussion

This was a hard episode to derive preparedness advice from for me (always have alcohol on hand to sterilize your hatchet, though;  I wrote this in my show notes).  The biggest lesson derived is the need for developing as full of an intelligence picture as possible during a crisis situation.   Rick didn't understand the true nature of the threat he faced, and his friends paid the price.

Since presumably none of us are privy to classified government threat analyses, we should do what we can to develop local intelligence:

  • Start with our immediate neighborhood.  If you take walks around the area, use the time not just to enhance physical fitness. Look around.  Note the general condition of the homes and yards -- are they well kept and tidy?  Is there a home or homes that don't fit that mold?   Why?  Is it a senior citizen that can't perform the labor anymore?  You now have a chance to get to know a neighbor and build community by helping them.  Do you notice strange traffic patterns, like strange cars coming to a particular house and then departing after only a few minutes? If so, there is a decent chance that a drug dealer has taken up residence.  Check local police blotter reports that are published in newspapers and scan for incidents close to you.
  • Buy a handheld scanner and start listening to police radio reports.  While a growing number of cities are now encrypting communications, many still do not.   
  • Enlist friends and family to help develop an intelligence picture.   In The Rabbit Hole has a really interesting podcast on how to accomplish this. 
Finally, you have to consider how Negan came to power.  Imagine the damage someone like him could do to a preparedness group.  Negan feigns concern for his people, but his real desire is to be the top dog of the food chain, and he could probably sacrifice the entire group if it suited his purposes.  You need to carefully consider who you decide to work with.  Natural News has a neat little article on recognizing sociopathic characteristics.  Only a trained mental health professional can correctly diagnose sociopaths, but if you notice any of those traits, you might want to steer clear.  Bottom line:  listen to your inner voice, and if something doesn't feel quite right about the person, distance yourself.

Preparedness Lessons for Episode 701:

  • Work on improving your personal intelligence picture.
  • Learn to critically evaluate people and steer clear of potential hostiles by knowing some simple warning traits for sociopaths.
Next week:  The full impact of Negan's assault is felt as Rick has to tell Alexandria as whole he is no longer in charge.  Oh, and Glen and Abraham are still dead.

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