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They read my reviews! Oh wait… no they didn’t. There was a point during THE WALKING DEAD’s most recent episode ‘Not  Tomorrow Yet’ that I really thought they had listened to me, that all my prayers were going to be answered, that pain was coming to the show, but alas, that did not happen. It was a solid episode though, with an enthralling sequence towards the end that worked very well. There was more to like than not like at least.

Episode 12 of this sixth season focused on Rick and a select group of Alexandrians preparing an assault on Negan’s group. This instalment was all about the build up, the foreplay, the mission would come but it was the build up that created the tension and the expectation of what might happen. It all started off when Rick’s squad arrived back to tell the town about Negan and his group, that they had to kill them in order to maintain their survival. Morgan fought back a little, his principles, his stance of not wanting to kill fuelling his pleas for restraint. He’s out voted however — unsurprisingly. As much as Morgan’s beliefs are admirable, they are equally ill advised. Rick is right; you can’t play by the rules that used to exist. Its kill or be killed. Anything else is just naive. This comes with danger but so does doing nothing, and so does not doing enough.

The First 3/4 of the episode is prep work for the battle ahead, of planning the assault and looking at how various characters feel about what’s going on. You have Glen and Maggie discussing whether she should come along considering she’s with child — she does, an awful idea — you have Carol and Tobin, chatting, flirting and then getting together, coping together. You have Abraham straight up leaving Rosita. It’s all a bit random, not too rewarding, but once they get on the road and head to their destination things moves along nicely.

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With the plan settled, they go in at night, using what little Intel they had from Jesus to infiltrate the vicinity. While these talks take place, while the assault is organised, there is an undeniable, ominous threat in the air, a threat that permeates every frame up until the assault is launched. It’s quite an achievement, considering we have only had an episode and a bit of build up. But having by this point seen so little of this other group, these bad men and their bad leader, there is so much mystery involved in what lies ahead. We just don’t know what to expect, and at this point you can’t imagine that it is going to end well.

When we finally come to the mission itself, the gang enact their violence. The time for talk is over and silence takes hold. All the talk preceding the assault was just foreplay, it’s only real purpose to warm us up, and for the most part, it did this nicely, allowing the scene in the outpost to affect us all the more. Once inside Negan’s building, the guys routinely go from room to room, putting down the first humans they see. It’s hard hitting stuff. These aren’t zombies they are dispatching. These are living breathing men who they have never met, and the show does a decent job of getting this anguish across. It’s tense stuff, right from the get go, only exasperated when the alarm is eventually tripped and battle breaks out. Gun fire ensues and our team make a good account of themselves, rather handily eviscerating the resistance they find. Highlights include Glen and Heath shut in the armoury, firing through the door at their attackers and Gabriel reciting verse before finishing off a foe — I can get behind a righteous murdering Priest, I like this direction for him, keep it up!

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What the episode does best, and what in the end is also most disappointing, is that it makes you think things are building to something truly terrible, edging slowly to some grisly fait for Rick and his gang. Unfortunately, that doesn’t quite pan out, no one dies from the group (sigh), no one is really hurt. Maggie and Carol are captured though, which is revealed to the gang, and to us right, at the end by a woman on a walkie-talkie. So danger is still on the horizon but they are making us wait for it. Hopefully it’s not much longer. I really thought this would be the episode. I really did begin to think it would be so. They actually had me convinced. I stopped hoping and was actually wait for the bodies to fall. They got me I guess, they made be believe for an episode that the writers had read my reviews and granted my wishes. There is still time of course, hopefully next week (it better be next week!!).

All in all, this was pretty dark stuff. What Rick and co did that night was murder out of desperation but it was also an unprovoked slaying. Rick has always skirted the lines between good guy and bad guy, but he’s getting everyone else dirty now. This is the most fascinating place the show can go and I want to see how far they can push it. How far can they take Rick before his death isn’t just justified but demanded? I hope they show us, that would good TV. ‘Not Tomorrow Yet’ was solid, punctuated by an excellent assault sequence that admittedly was made to seem better than it actually was by the thought of what might happen. The episode makes us think harm will come to Carol and Maggie and maybe Glen too, but we’ve been burnt so many times with false dawns. I just don’t know if the show has the balls anymore. I’ve still got a decent feeling about things, but my patience is thin, they need to act, and they need to act now.

Verdict

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Film and TV Journalist Follow: @SamuelBrace Follow: @filmandtvnow

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