Airdate: March 6, 2016
After making their deal with Hilltop to take out the enigmatic Negan, Rick and his Apocalypse Gang set out to rid the world of a man they don’t know and have never seen.
Today’s lesson, kids, is that murder is bad but sometimes you just gotta. Sure, you can whine and complain about how it’s not right, but at the end of the day, only murder will assure that you will see tomorrow.
Even though it would be amazing, The Walking Dead can’t be nothing but zombie hoards breaking down the walls every week and, in the zombie off-weeks, you’ve got to remind everyone that what separates The Walking Dead from most other television is that it’s a show about good people doing bad things for good reasons. These are basic philosophical questions that we, as a species, have been asking ourselves for years. The best part about stories based around this question is that there is no right or wrong answer… it’s all shades of gray with zombies shambling about.
Here, they deal with some pretty dark issues. Carol, probably the most calculating and cold-blooded member of the group, is apparently the way she is because she has a mother’s instinct to protect and, you know, it’s not that big of a stretch for her. Perhaps in her failure to save Sofia, Lizzie, Mika, and Sam (that little turd), she becomes a stronger protector… that need to keep those around her safe only grows at the expense of her own morality. For Carol, you can argue that there is no going back. She was always there, gun on her back and knife in her hand, waiting for herself to get there.
Then, there’s Glenn and Heath. Both apparently gentle souls and both on the verge of killing their first not-dead human being. The scene in question, where they are to stab Negan’s men in the head while they sleep, is hard to watch. It’s brutal and Steven Yeun and Corey Hawkins communicate the crushing gravity of it all. Again, there is no way back. The survivors can lie to themselves all they want, but like Carol, they were always here waiting for themselves to arrive.
The ending battle was, of course, exciting and graphically brutal as we expected and only hammered home how easily these characters who are trying to hold on to their humanity can pick up a gun and blow people away if the need arises.
“Not Tomorrow Yet” was a well-crafted episode that took it methodically slow so that it could truly examine how these beloved characters are getting by and disintegrating along with society, whether you’re holding on to your humanity, your priest collar, or just pretending you’re a normal housewife baking cookies. In many ways, as this episode deftly shows us, The Walking Dead is more than just a show about zombies, it’s a tragedy beyond parallel.