The Walking Dead 6×12 “Not Tomorrow Yet”: A liability

The Walking Dead 6x13 Cover

I’ve sort of come to terms with the limitations of The Walking Dead. There are things that the show is particularly good at, and things that the show is particularly bad at. For example, the show isn’t great at long-term planning. It takes storylines from the comics and uses them in a way that isn’t very convincing, that glosses over instead of elaborates on. It’s also not great at supporting characters. Supporting characters on The Walking Dead are humanized minimally before fed to the machine that occasionally grinds up those on the show. The same goes for themes over the long term. The show often seems to turn its wheels in terms of the morality inherent in a lawless world (or at least a world that doesn’t have an overarching legal structure.

The Walking Dead 6x13-1

Source: AMC

But the show is also great at a lot of things as well. When the show focuses on a single character, it often goes very well. “Not Tomorrow Yet” focuses on Carol, for the most part, and it does a fantastic job honing in on the internal struggle that keeps her anxious in the face of impending violence. Carol, when she is a killing machine, is fantastic. Carol in “JSS” was a high point, probably for the whole series. But Carol here, when she wonders about how to achieve peace in a world that she has accepted as violent and vicious, is also great. She has had to endure more than almost anybody else in the series, and is likewise hardened by it, but when she sees other characters that aren’t as hardened, she questions the way she exists in the world. Does she, after everything, still have a chance at life?

The Walking Dead 6x13-2

Source: AMC

There isn’t really an easy answer to that. Having a chance means being vulnerable, and vulnerability can get you killed. But vulnerability is a safeguard from losing yourself entirely. Rick, along with most of Alexandria, decides that The Saviors are a huge liability, and decide to ambush and slaughter most of them in order to be safe. Approaching them like Morgan wanted could mean losing the edge that they need in order to take them out for good. So there’s a balance to strike, somewhere, but who knows exactly how to strike that balance? Who knows when to slaughter and when to show restraint? Without moral rules that govern the overarching society, there isn’t any way to know how other people are going to act. Mistakes will be made. It’s just what will happen.

Source: AMC

Source: AMC

That being said, the last third of the episode was absolutely fantastic, The Walking Dead basically turned into an action film. The Walking Dead works very, very well when it devolves into chaos and action, and the assault on The Saviors was the show firing on all cylinders, extremely tense when Rick and his group were sneaking around the base, and extremely satisfying when the plan fell apart, the assault turning into a firefight. I’m still not sure how I feel about Rick devolving into violence so quickly after he broke down in front of Carl in “No Way Out”, but watching him offer up such a brutal solution to a human problem was especially satisfying (not to mention watching him mow down Savior after Savior). Oh, and if you know anything about the plot in the comic books, the grisly photos on the wall in the Savior base were very, very unsettling. The Walking Dead may not be executing the Negan plot perfectly, but the show is still a lot better than it has been, and “Not Tomorrow Yet” was one of the best episodes of the half-season.

Source: AMC

Source: AMC

The in-depth character work didn’t always work as well as it does, but it did a particularly solid job with Glenn, Abraham, and Carol. Having Glenn finally kill after six seasons was interesting, as the show examined the toll of murder on those who haven’t taken life, juxtaposing it with someone who has taken many, many lives (Carol). That’s The Walking Dead at its finest, juxtaposing its characters for maximum effectiveness, showing how different characters function in different situations. But “Not Tomorrow Yet” also uses that juxtaposition to show how everybody is still human, considering their path and their way in the “Next World”. Glenn doesn’t know how to remain human, Abraham doesn’t know how to handle normal human responsibilities, and Carol doesn’t know how to deal with gentle tenderness and brutal violence existing in such close proximity. It’s great, riveting stuff, and it goes to show that The Walking Dead still has a lot of life left in it.

Really, being alive is still a liability. Carol shows vulnerability and her and Maggie are taken prisoner. Rick shows no vulnerability and alerts The Saviors, causing a firefight, making it impossible for any communication to happen between the two groups. “Not Tomorrow Yet” did a great job showing the delicate line between brutality and restraint, more so than the rest of the series. But The Walking Dead habitually loses sight of this line, and there’s no telling if next week it’ll completely forget about it again. But for now, The Walking Dead is handling this new story line well enough. Life is a liability, and there’s really no way around that.

So what did you think of “Not Tomorrow Yet”? Who do you think will end up dead next? Let me know in the comments!

Michael St. Charles

is just a Michigan State University grad who loves a good story. If he’s not off teaching the young ones how to solve quadratic functions or to write an expository essay, he’s watching old-school HBO shows, indie horror movies, or he’s playing Resident Evil 4.

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  • Gui

    I was actually very pleased with this episode, specially how it’s leading up to something different enough from the comics that will make the lead-up to that one huge scene more believable (I was a bit worried considering the fast pace) and just manages to raise the stakes in general. It seems that next episode will be another one that narrows down the characters to mainly Maggie and Carol, too, which should be fantastic.

    As for this episode, there were many good things, I feel. First off, Abraham, who’s a very fascinating character. Even in his breakup with Rosita, that directness made a lot of sense, he still can’t deal with, as you say, normal human responsibilities, and at the same time I feel a lot of his actions boil down from how he is: Once he has a mission, given by someone or set by himself, he’ll just act and not question. He didn’t have an urgent mission at hand most of his time in Alexandria, but after realizing his feelings last episode, he had a different kind of mission. It’s not what his adrenaline addiction craves for, but it’s something for him to focus on and he won’t question or doubt himself.

    Then there’s Glenn. First off, if I had worries previously that they’d repeat his comic death, they’ve been dispelled by this episode. Glenn’s heading off in a very interesting direction, from not having killed anyone in 5 seasons and a half to about 6 in one episode. And I think that one of the reasons he could bring himself to doing that is because of the horrible things he’s witnessed in this past season. This definitely sets him on a path where he’ll have to deal with a lot of inner conflict, and with how he can do what he will have to in the future. Now that the plan’s gone south and Maggie’s been taken, he’ll be put in quite a spot.

    And then there’s Carol. She very badly wants to believe in the same things Morgan does, but the world’s kept proving her wrong. I gotta say, I find it interesting how Gimple uses the idea of “how many people have you killed?” to remind you of the goodness in people. It was used (not quite as effectively) back with Merle in This Sorrowful Life, which proved Merle kept the people he killed in mind and he wasn’t too far gone yet. It became part of the method to recruit people to their group. And now Carol’s keeping track of her own kills and remembering what she’s done, and thanks to Tobin she can process why. Which also explains her vulnerability around Maggie: She wants Maggie to be an unburdened mother, she doesn’t want her to experience the same hell she did. Most of Carol’s kills revolve around children as her motivation, and that’s why she tells Maggie she’s supposed to be someone else, she’s not someone supposed to carry the burden of death in her hands or the constant worry for the death of her child.

    There were many other things going on, but those three characters feel like the 3 central ones for this. We have Gabriel, who gave me Pulp Fiction vibes. Rick went for a violent approach, but it makes sense considering his prior experiences and how now we have this sort of “balanced” Rick, one that’s willing to damage his soul committing such terrible acts but one that cares for his family and the safety of others. And we have Tara getting a callback to Too Far Gone, remembering her willingness to join the Governor in an attack such as this, but this time with a stronger motivation and with less doubt after witnessing the good of this group and what they’ve been through.

    And finally, to finish this essay of a comment (it went on for longer than I thought), I’m getting to view the Grady storyline in the previous season with different eyes with what went down this episode and what seems will go down next. Back then, Tyreese convinced the group to not take a violent approach exterminating everyone at Grady to save their own, in order for the group to keep their humanity. But that plan went awry very quickly. On the other hand, we have Morgan here, doing something similar, and we see the effect it has on the group: Killing people in their sleep, regardless of how bad they are, still feels like crossing a line. I’m remembering Rick talking about his plan to kill everyone at Grady starting with “Daryl will slit this guy’s throat”, and that’s the first thing that happened when the attack began. No wonder Morgan’s looking so devastated at the end, he know what they’ll do and how that’ll chip away at their humanity the way it did his. And now we have a hostage trade situation like back in Grady and it seems it’ll go awry yet again. With Carol and one of the Greene sisters, to boot. There’s a lot of potential with what they can do before the big scene from Something to Fear in the finale, and I’m wondering how it’ll all play out from here.

    • Michael St. Charles

      I’m gonna keep my comment short and sweet because it’s late (but I read your entire comment, promise!). I really liked the way that “Not Tomorrow Yet” emphasizes this fine line between right and wrong, and how these difficult moral decisions have no real way of being absolutely right or wrong. Clearly, there’s a line that Rick steps over when he decides to slaughter dozens of men and women in cold blood, but The Saviors are a militarized group that live near them. It’s a difficult situation for sure.

      I just like the way that the show is able to focus intently on a couple key characters, like this episode focused on Glenn, Abraham, and Carol. The three of them had development in this episode that felt tangible and realistic, and even added depth to Carol’s character when it felt like they had stopped really focusing on her altogether.

      As for the “big scene”, dear lord, the images that Glenn saw on the wall were MESSED UP. I’m nervous, haha.

  • George Liapes

    First, sorry I didn’t comment on your BCS review from last week, since I had a lot of stuff going on (though I did read it).

    This was probably the best episode of the half season for me. The first half was definitely clunky but it still had some nice character beats, especially with carol, Glenn and Abraham. The final third was the best part, with it feeling like a call of duty action scene and the moral reprehensiveness of what the group did (even though it was slightly ruined by the reveal of pics of the smashed in heads, as if the show was trying to convince us that what they were doing was right).

    I do question why Maggie was allowed to come considering she’s pregnant but the next episode of her and carol getting captured should be interesting.

    I was pretty impressed at how we’re at the halfway point and just now things have gotten so intense for this half season.

    For the next person to die, my picks are down to Glenn, Abraham or Daryl. I assume you now know about what happens down the road based on the pics Glenn saw? They seem to focusing on Abraham quite A lot as of late so I can see him getting axed. Based on Glenn finally killing Someone, I can see the producers keeping him alive just to explore his reaction to finally taking human lives. based on gui’s comments a few weeks back, I can see Daryl getting killed, though I question whether or not the show will have the balls to do so.

    See you for BCS!

    • Michael St. Charles

      I really loved the last third of the episode, especially the scene with Glenn killing the man and seeing the images of people beaten to a pulp (those images were GRUESOME). I get the feeling that the next one to die is going to be Abraham or Daryl, but man, I don’t really know. I really liked this episode and I just hope that the rest of the season is able to keep this level of intensity.

      I’ll have Better Call Saul’s review up at some point tomorrow!