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The Walking Dead - Not Tomorrow Yet - Review

The Walking Dead “Not Tomorrow Yet” was written by Seth Hoffman and directed by Greg Nicotero, who seems to always take the helm for the big fight sequences – no doubt because he always executes them brilliantly. This season continues to keep the action coming while exploring how the continuing violence is taking a toll on the characters. Just when it seems like the stakes can’t be ramped up any higher, they are.

As the episode opens, Carol (Melissa McBride) is making cookies again. It’s a really interesting juxtaposition with the violence that the community has just been through. I loved the puzzled look on the one woman’s (Dahlia Legault) face as she accepts the cookies from Carol. Carol makes two particularly important deliveries, however.

        One is to Tobin (Jason Douglas). He is somewhat skeptical that the cookies are pink. Carol explains that they are sweetened with beets, and he tells her he’s never been too fond of beets. She tells him just to eat the damn thing – and he discovers that she’s transformed the beets. The cookies are a terrific symbol of Carol herself. She is a mixture of incongruous elements, forged in the crucible of this new world. This is also reflected in in the other main ingredient in her cookies – the nuts she forages in the woods, but herself, and then cooks and grinds up.

The other special delivery that Carol makes is to leave one cookie for Sam on his grave. Carol may be a one woman army, but she’s never been heartless. She may have been numb, and she may have put her own group and its safety above everything else, but she wept even as she killed Lizzie, and if there was any doubt that she cared about Sam, that should be removed by her visit to his grave. In her own way she was trying to harden him to the reality of his new life. Did she see the inevitability of his death because he was too sensitive? We also discover in this episode that Carol keeps a tally of all those she’s killed.

There’s a toll on all of them for the killing of the living. Rick (Andrew Lincoln) calls a meeting in the church. This scene is wonderfully shot, with Rick framed by the stained glass and Jesus (Tom Payne) sitting just to the side of the alter. Rick tells those gathered – most of those left – about the plan to attack Negan’s camp. It’s definitely not a perfect plan by any means. In fact, it really demonstrates what a good strategist Negan is that Andy (Jeremy Palko) knows so little about the compound and its inhabitants.

Rick wants them all to agree to the plan before they go ahead, however. He wants it to be a democratic decision. Morgan (Lennie James) is once again his most vocal opponent. Morgan wants to give Negan’s people the choice to talk first, to negotiate a peaceful settlement. Rick wants to strike first. It’s hard to see Morgan’s side given everything we know so far about Negan’s tactics – we already know that he kills someone immediately upon meeting a new group to instill fear immediately. When that’s your known calling card – he almost did it to Daryl (Norman Reedus), Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), and Abraham (Michael Cuditz) and we know he did it to a 16 year old kid at the Hilltop – that doesn’t suggest a willingness to come to a peaceful settlement.

Morgan doesn’t come on the raid – not surprisingly. The last thing we see of him in the episode, however, is him building a permanent cell in the basement of the brownstone. He’s clearly not giving up on his own beliefs. There is a beautiful shot of him in which he looks like he’s praying. And this is another strong theme that plays out in the episode.

Hand in hand with the discussion of the toll death takes is a look at some of the relationships because surely love has to be the antithesis of death. There’s that terrific scene in which Carol and Tobin share a cigarette – and a kiss! Tobin has been accepting of the new group, but he’s also always come across as somewhat on the gentle side. He’s an interesting choice for Carol, but it’s clear that he gets her and sees that there is more to her than meets the eye. He seems to be drawn to both her strength and the inherent gentleness in her – that mixture of wild nuts and transformed beets if you will. I’m not going to lie, I’ve been a big fan of the Daryl/Carol pairing, but I can definitely get behind Carol/Tobin! On the other hand, it seems that this single kiss marks one of them for death…

In fact, it seems like the introduction of love may mark characters for death. Abraham tells Rosita (Christian Serratos) that he’s leaving her, making him a gigantic asshole. Primarily for how he told her. He should have had the courage to break it off with her as soon as he got back after confessing to Sasha that he had feelings for her. Instead, he waits for weeks and then tells Rosita that he was only with her in the first place because he thought she was the last woman on earth! I think she should have shot him… and not in the foot!

Tara (Alanna Masterson) very awkwardly tells Denise (Merritt Wever) that she loves her. Denise, for her own part, wants to put the discussion off until Tara returns from the raid and then her trip with Heath (Corey Hawkins). What makes the exchange even more interesting is the subsequent conversation Tara has with Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) and Jesus. How many people can say that Jesus was physically in the backseat during their last confession?! I liked that Jesus really cuts to the heart of the matter by asking if she really does love Denise – the motives don’t really matter if the sentiment is true.

Maggie (Lauren Cohen) insists that she has to come on the raid. Maggie and Glenn’s (Steven Yuen) love story is perhaps the one that viewers are most invested in, and now that Maggie is also pregnant, the entire group has become even more protective of her. Glenn is also at the heart of the discussion of what killing can do to you.

I loved the scene between Glenn and Heath when they both confess that they’ve been lucky so far. They’ve been spared having to actually kill a living person. It’s hard to believe that Glenn has dodged this bullet for so long. Both Glenn and Heath are so competent that it’s also interesting to see them both so nervous about the possibility, but they both also very much value life. It’s the reason Glenn tried so hard to save Nicholas and of course, goes right back to Hershel. Of all of them, Glenn and Maggie are the ones who have tried hardest to save others – Tara, Enid, and Nicholas quickly coming to mind.

It’s a beautiful scene then, when Glenn and Heath break into the room to find the two Saviors asleep. Yuen is just brilliant in this scene as there is no real dialogue but his emotions are simply conveyed perfectly by his facial expressions. He is appalled that he has to kill this sleeping man who in all honesty has never done anything Glenn knows of to deserve being killed. But it has to be done. It is a loss of innocence that is clearly heartbreaking for Glenn – is this someone else he might have reclaimed?

But Heath is utterly unable to complete the task, and Glenn sees that there is at least one soul that he can save – Heath. And perhaps that is what this episode is really about. How does one save or protect one’s very soul from damage and death in this world? In the end, after it’s done, Glenn looks up to find a wall of polaroid pictures of the people that the two he had just killed had killed. It’s gruesome evidence that the residents of the room were far from innocent, and likely well beyond any kind of redemption.

As always the episode is not without humor. In order for the plan to work, Andy has to turn up with Gregory’s head. The group fans out and takes down a bunch of walkers. I had no idea what was going on until we see them with the heads – and that was both creepy, disgusting, and a pretty great idea! I loved them deciding which of the heads looked closest and then Rick picking the one up and bashing its nose in to disfigure it just enough – in the process, creating a cover story for how Andy hurt his hand! The best part of that scene had to be Andy declaring that Rick was scarier by far than any of the Saviors. Yes. Yes he is!

Carol surprises Rick by telling him that she’s not going in with them. She’s staying out with Maggie to watch the perimeter. When the plan seems to go badly, Maggie immediately wants to go in after them, but Carol doesn’t want her to. Carol wants to spare Maggie. She tells Maggie that she is supposed to be someone else – not a killer like Carol has had to become. Carol wants Maggie to be the leader that Deanna saw her to be, someone who can lead them back to a place where they don’t have to kill. Of course, it’s because the two are distracted – and don’t simply guard the perimeter that they are taken.

Rick asks Gabriel why he’s still wearing his collar and black suit. Gabriel jokes that it helps him blend into the dark, but more importantly and in a reflection of what they tell Tara, it’s still a part of him. He may have had to change and adapt, but he is still essentially the same – in the same way that the good parts of Carol have remained the same at their core and in the same way that even being forced to kill won’t change Glenn at his deepest level.

Gabriel gets his best scene yet in the series when he comes upon a Savior. The Savior seems to think that Gabriel won’t kill him. However, Gabriel begins by quoting scripture at the guy and then killing him with an amen. Am I alone in hoping this becomes a pattern for him? Though admittedly, taking a long time to talk at someone before killing them is generally a dangerous tactic…

Tara tries to prevent Jesus from going in, but he’s determined to help. We finally get to see a little of Aaron (Ross Marquand) in this episode too as he’s in the front lines of the fighting. The problem with having such a large and wonderful cast is that we never get enough of everybody. Reedus and Marquand are both terrific in the raid.

The entire raid on Negan’s compound, beginning with the delivery of “Gregory’s” head and ending with taking out the guy on the motorcycle is stunning. These long action sequences are fabulously done and kudos to Nicotero and his whole cast and crew for pulling it off! I loved Glenn and Heath making it to the armory just as they ran out of ammunition and blowing the Saviors away through the door – another nice way to spare Heath any direct guilt.

There’s a beautiful shot of Glenn and Heath looking up from the bodies to see Jesus standing there at the end of the hall. Is he there for their absolution?

The final scene sets up the next episode as the disembodied voice stops the victors in their tracks. “We’ve got a Carol and a Maggie.” It’s almost enough to make you feel sorry for them. However, we know that Carol is not in the best place, so how will that affect her ability to escape? It also already demonstrates that the raid on Negan’s stronghold likely hasn’t been a complete success – at least not in wiping him out. Which we know for other reasons – no spoilers!

Another great episode! What did you think of the episode? Favorite scene? Are you enjoying the new pairings? Did you find yourself craving cookies? Can Carol and Maggie get themselves out of this? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

About the Author - Lisa Macklem
I do interviews and write articles for the site in addition to reviewing a number of shows, including Supernatural, Arrow, Agents of Shield, Agent Carter, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, The X-Files, Defiance, Bitten, Killjoys, and a few others! I'm active on the Con scene when I have the time. When I'm not writing about television shows, I'm often writing about entertainment and media law in my capacity as a legal scholar. I also work in theatre when the opportunity arises. I'm an avid runner and rider, currently training in dressage.
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