Rick declares “We Kill Them All” in a brutal slaughter fest of an episode (Spoilers Ahead)
The past couple of set up episodes are beginning to pay off in “Not Tomorrow Yet”, an hour which began on a lighter note and gradually escalated into a brutal slaughter fest.
This week’s The Walking Dead shows Rick’s group at their most merciless. Rick’s decision to proactively execute the Saviors didn’t require much convincing to the people of Alexandria or to the audience at home. The way the show has set up the Saviors and after everything Rick’s group have gone through, we can readily buy into the idea that our survivors are now the judge, jury and executioners of the post apocalypse. If we didn’t know any better or came across Rick’s group for the first time, they’d be a very scary crew to cross paths with. They’ve got the skills, firepower, manpower and the confidence to do as they please.
We don’t have much information about The Saviors, but their name suggests they are self righteous in how they see themselves. They might not see themselves as the villains in the story, rather they’re the group that is capable of enacting necessary evil in order to keep the DC community going. Which at this point doesn’t sound that different from how Team Alexandria justify their actions. It’s a kill or be killed world and history has a way of repeating itself which is why Rick is taking to the offensive this time instead of waiting to be attacked.
“Not Tomorrow Yet” doesn’t shy away from depicting how cutthroat Rick’s group have become. Instead of giving Glenn and Daryl an easy way out by having the sleeping Saviors wake up at the last second and then kill in self-dense, the writers did a good job of explicitly depicting “this is a cold blooded murder”. But it’s clear that these Saviors are far from innocent, the Polaroids of their victims’ heads bashed in are posted on the wall as if it’s something they take pride in. Creepy stuff.
Just about everyone got in on the killing spree. Having Gabriel, who in the past had an aversion to killing, quote bible verses before executing a downed enemy added to the savagery. The same with the usually mild-mannered Aaron, who also did not hesitate to get in on the action.
Interestingly, Carol excused herself from the killing spree saying she had to stay behind to protect Maggie. Over the past couple of seasons, Carol has gone so far down one extreme in terms of her morality that it was only a matter of time that the writers either pulled her back or write her off. The show is going with the former option. Characters are more compelling when they are struggling with some sort of internal dilemma so we can understand why the writers are having Carol wrestle with her beliefs and feel remorse over her growing kill count.
This episode could have used a little more time in showing Carol’s sea change but the broad strokes are there. Carol first took on the guise of a suburban homemaker to blend into Alexandria but after a several weeks of living in peace it started to grow on her. Her emotional attraction to Tobin might have to do with the idea that he recognizes why she does terrible things. It’s not because she likes it rather it’s her motherly instincts to protect those she cares about. Which is also the same reason why she doesn’t understand why Maggie would put her unborn child in danger. As much as Carol might wish she didn’t have to kill anymore, it’s an inescapable way of life. Putting away her baked acorn cookies on Sam’s tombstone conveys that without dialogue.
So the mission to wipe out the Saviors goes according to plan until they learn that Carol and Maggie have been captured. In hindsight, we can begin to question whether the group’s over-the-top confidence put them in this predicament. The analogy is like an undefeated prize fighter who starts believing they are untouchable, but what happens when the fighter bites off more than he can chew? The plan had a number of faulty assumptions. For starters, Rick’s group didn’t know how many Saviors are there and assumed they were all located at only one location. They assumed that Negan was one of the fallen. And they assumed that whatever the unknown factors which may present itself during the mission, they could just power through it; which was mostly correct but not entirely.
The pieces to this half of the season are starting to come together. The bad guys who stole Daryl’s motorcycle back in episode 6’s “Always Accountable” can now be identified as the Saviors. And Rick’s plan to prevent an all out war may actually be the inciting event which starts it. “Not Tomorrow Yet’ certainly isn’t one of those quieter character centric episodes that normally fill up the middle part of an 8 episode arc. There are a number stand out moments like Heath and Glenn firing through the armory door and Rick amusingly punching the fake Gregory’s head. For those that follow the comics, the foreshadowing is really on the nose these past few episodes. All in all, a really great intense episode that leaves us wanting more.
Why do you think there were flaws, if any, to Rick’s plan to eliminate the Saviors? Do you buy into Carol’s change in stance about killing people?