Wow. The Walking Dead premiered its seventh season last night. For those who don’t remember, last season’s finale introduced the much talked about, but never seen villain, Negan. Last season also ended on one of the most depressing and anxiety-inducing cliffhangers in television history. The audience knew that Negan brutally clubbed one of the series regulars to death with his barbed wire bat affectionately named “Lucille”, but what the audience did not know was which character met their untimely end.
So without further ado, we will now take a look at and process exactly what happened in the episode.
Massive Spoiler Warning for the season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead!!!
Here, we’ll even put a big visual aid up to help. Don’t go past the big “spoiler warning” picture unless you want to know what happened in the season premiere. You’ve been warned. Normally, we try to be unspecific and avoid spoilers best we can but this episodes started with a character death and talking about cannot be avoided.
Any fan of the show who claims not to have been anxious is a liar. Seeing the group of survivors defeated and with no way to escape the impending doom of one of their own could stir legitimate pangs of anxiousness in the stoutest of stomachs. Watching Negan going through his menacing version of “Eeny Meeny Miny Mo” set a tone of suspense greater than most full-length horror films. Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays Negan masterfully by not portraying him as a simply psychotic rival, but by embodying Negan as a bonafide villain. Negan isn’t just some muscle-bound thug, but rather a calculating leader who knows what buttons to push in order to get what he wants.
So let’s get to the death. Surprisingly, it was Abraham, which If you were watching the broadcast live, you could almost hear the internet give a collective sigh of relief as millions said to themselves, “Thank God it wasn’t Daryl.” One of the things that makes The Walking Dead a great show to watch is that after seven seasons, fans have invested a lot into some of these characters. So when a character like Abraham gets killed off, people rationalize it in interesting ways. For example, once we saw that Abraham was going to get the business end of Lucille, many people probably became happy, yet confused that Glenn was not the one to die. Fans of the comic book version of The Walking Dead already knew that Negan killed Glenn with Lucille. However, the show has veered from the comic in enough ways that fans of both know that the show is not a retelling of the comic. So, Abraham’s death could easily have been written off as the show going in a different direction than the comic.
But wait, there’s more!
Everyone’s hero, Daryl Dixon, gets up and punches Negan. Have you ever seen someone cheer and groan at the same time? Yeah, because that’s what happened in numerous households across the world when Daryl set up an introduction between his fist and Negan’s face. The cheer represents what everyone wanted to happen, while the groan represents what everyone knew would happen next. Well, sort of. The immediate and paralyzing fear was that Negan would kill Daryl for his costly outburst. In fact, Daryl’s nemesis and current wielder of crossbow, Dwight, came out of the woodwork with a quickness to offer to kill Daryl for Negan. To which Negan gave a somewhat confusing reply: “You don’t kill them. Not without trying some first.” What the hell does that even mean? Is Negan going down the cannibal route or is he referring to trying to break the survivors. Money says the latter, but anything is fair game on The Walking Dead.
Naturally, Negan knew that he had to show the survivors that he means business, so Daryl’s valiant but ultimately stupid outburst cost Glenn his life. Kudos to the writers of the show. They stayed relatively true to the comics by having Negan kill Glenn, yet also did their own thing by having Negan kill Abraham as well. Also, killing Abraham and Glenn effects their love interests. So Negan ruined 3 lives for the price of 2.
In true Walking Dead fashion, there was even more to the episode. It should be noted that the deaths of Abraham and Glenn were revealed in the form of flashbacks had by Rick. After the massacre, Negan kidnaps Rick in an attempt to break him. The flashbacks and mini-visions were cleverly used to show the audience what had happened in that fateful, yet doomed campfire. But they also did something else. The flashbacks that Rick had, turned into imaginative visions of the future. The audience saw Rick imagining the rest of the survivors getting clubbed with Lucille. The audience also saw the look on Rick’s face and the determination in his eyes that illustrated how much Rick would do to protect the remaining members of his “family”. To his credit, Negan also saw the look in Rick’s eyes and knew that Rick would need to broken some other way.
And break him, he did.
Another point of contention that was highly debated on the internet was Rick’s hand. Going back to the comics, Rick’s hand was cut off by the Governor, however, due to special effects reasons, Rick’s hand was never removed in the show, despite Andrew Lincoln being all for it. There seemed to be some subtle foreshadowing going on as Negan focused on Rick’s axe throughout the episode. Little did we know that Negan was going to force Rick to chop off the arm of his own son, Carl. With guns pointed at the heads of the rest of the survivors, Rick was left with little choice. The performance of Andrew Lincoln was nothing short of amazing as he fully captured the impossible task he was ordered to complete. This is the stuff of Emmy’s. Lincoln has always been a force of nature on the show, but this scene allowed him to show what he is truly made of. The raw emotion was fantastically tangible. The man even blew snot bubbles during the scene!
Story wise, it felt like a cop-out when Negan stopped Rick from actually cutting off Carl’s hand. Granted, everyone understood that Rick had truly been broken by Negan at that point, but it would have taken things to a while different level if Carl had lost his hand. Or even Rick, for that matter. During the scene, it was easy to imagine Negan ordering Rick to remove his own hand. Or having Carl remove Rick’s hand. Or have Negan remove Rick’s hand. But at the end of the episode, everyone was left with their hands disappointingly intact.
Some detractors of the show claim that the story has gotten stale as the years go on. Others claim fatigue and predictability when characters die every season. However, if the season premiere is any indication, season seven of The Walking Dead will be one of the best yet. Andrew Lincoln is the definitive high point of the episode, while Jeffrey Dean Morgan is a very close second. Both are an absolute pleasure to watch on the small screen.
AMC’s The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8 C.