AMC’s Walking Dead season 6 finale left everyone guessing for months which one of our favorite characters would bite the bullet, er, bat, I guess. With the season 7 premiere last night, that question was finally answered. While the season premiere was a bit shaky, there are some new characters and dynamics introduced that will, hopefully, rejuvenate the show and break the story cycles of the last couple of seasons. Beware, there are spoilers below!
Negan + Lucille
For those who may need a little refresher, Rick and the group are being held hostage by Negan and The Saviors due to the slight massacre of their people. Oops! Because of this, Negan threatens the life of one (or more) of Rick’s group with the scariest game of “eeny, meeny, miny, moe” ever. And that’s where we are left at the end of season 6. I watched in horror as Abraham and Glenn were beaten to death (I totally called that, by the way). They both go out exactly as you would expect. Abraham tells Negan he can suck a certain something; Glenn, bulging eyeball and all, looks at Maggie and gurgles, “I’ll find you”. Even though I knew all of this was coming, I may have cried a little. Only a little…. As much as I hated to see Glenn go, it was time. He has dodged death so many times, and it’s been awhile since we have seen one of the main group die. And I can’t handle Carol or Darryl dying..So Glenn and Abraham, RIP.
While the beating left nothing to the imagination, this moment creates one of the best villains in the show: Negan. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is going to kill (ha ha) this role, and I am so excited to see more of him this season. During his monologue of death, Morgan playfully fluctuates between sickening charm and violent anger. I hated myself every time one of his one liners made me giggle, and then I would return to crying. His extreme desire for unquestionable authority has him torturing Rick into guaranteed submission in a way that we haven’t seen before. It is nothing new to see crazy Rick, but powerless Rick is definitely unsettling.
How Does the Premiere Stack Up?
Despite the introduction of Negan, the episode is a little shaky. The whole event is somewhat dragged out while Negan takes Rick out to “break him”. After Negan “does the deed”, he takes Rick into the RV and they drive off together. He puts Rick in a dangerous “biter” situation to assure Rick’s obedience. Throughout this, there are numerous flash backs that don’t do anything for the story. It isn’t until they get back to the group and Negan almost makes Rick cut Carl’s hands off before we see Rick totally breakdown. After this, we see a broken (more so than normal) Rick and his group moving the bodies of their fallen comrades and moving on to do Negan’s bidding.
The episode seems to waste a lot of time trying to fill in the spots around the murders and the kidnapping of Darryl. A lot of people are arguing that the creators could have fit most of the important stuff from last nights premiere into the finale episode of last season. After thinking back on it, I totally agree. I feel like Rick and Negan driving off in the RV or Rick’s breakdown could have been an equally unsettling ending to last season, and without so much time to reflect on who was going to die, Glenn and Abraham’s deaths may have been more surprising.
Seeing Rick go a little crazy is nothing new to devoted fans of the show, but this is definitely a different ball game. Usually, we see Rick go crazy with power or vengeance; it’s odd to see Rick driven powerless and lost. I’m hoping this new development will push the story past its somewhat repetitive cycle of believed safety to fighting for survival. I think that the story will really start to focus less on zombies and more so on these people becoming more comfortable in a post apocalyptic world and how they interact with each other.
As an avid Walking Dead fan, I know the show is known for fluctuating between good and bad seasons. With the ideas and characters introduced in the premiere, despite the iffiness of the episode itself, I’m hoping this will be another knock out season. And as the posters state, “We’re only getting started”.