Spoilers Ahead: You've been warned but if you don't know how Season 7 of THE WALKING DEAD kicked things off last night then you are living under a rock! The #1 rated show on television held no punches or blows to the head, killing two of its most popular characters with the fatal introduction of "Negan" the series most notorious villain played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
Audiences had been warned for an entire summer! When The Walking Dead returned for its Season 7 it was going to be an entirely different show. By the end of Season 6 Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and the rest of our heroes had risen to the task of fortifying the community at Alexandria and were on the path to creating a proper home. It was clear that there were challenges presenting themselves, from the merciless Wolves to the introduction of the members of the Hilltop retreat, that brought Rick and company into the conflict with the Saviors.
Like previous seasons of the hit AMC show, it was easy to accept that in a world riddled with the zombie epidemic and death-defying terrors at every turn, it wasn’t going to be an overall optimistically hopeful new day for these survivors. The introduction of Negan (new series regular Jeffrey Dean Morgan) isn’t anything that anyone could have prepared for. It’s a whole new world now that the leader of the Saviors has been revealed. In true The Walking Dead fashion everything has its consequences.
After avoiding the traps set by the Saviors and challenging various factions during the course of the year, the cliffhanger for Season 6 has our entire group of heroes on their knees and at Negan’s whim. After taunting the group he swings his barbwire bat “Lucille” and takes out Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and even after a show of defiance, ultimately Negan leaves a bloody pulp when Abraham’s head was as the rest of the team looks on. Negan doesn’t stop there. Realizing the effect that losing Abraham has on Rosita (Christian Serratos) he terrorizes her next.
In true heroic form, Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) jumps in and clocks Negan on the chin, and after subduing Dixon and to punish him for his unruly display, Negan strikes again and slams Glenn (Steven Yeun) with his bat! Similarly to the way the events play out in the graphic novels, Glenn’s skull is split open, one eye is popping out, he tries to speak, and gets a few words out, until Negan unleashes another assault repeatedly beating Glenn until there’s nothing left of him but a bloody heap.
Negan then turns his attention to the group leader and takes off in the RV with Rick. Episode 1 of Season 7 “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be” is not at all what anyone may have been expecting. Rick has faced some formidable foes in the past, but Negan is unprecedented in his make-up as a character in that he doesn’t perceive himself as a villain at all. From Negan’s perspective, it’s a harsh reality and in order to survive it, someone has to rise above to keep everyone else under his thumb less everything run into ruin and chaos. Why shouldn’t it be him? Negan intimidates his disciples into doing his bidding, and Rick is his latest acquisition.
With such a dramatic shift in power, and the traumatic demise of two of their friends, the group is left reeling after the incident with Negan, and promises that he’ll be checking in with the tenants of Alexandria in a week when he comes to collect half of everything that they’ve got and take with him whomever he wants to claim. With Rick feeling cut at the knees, after working so hard to pull everyone together to protect their new home, picking up the pieces will not be so easily managed. For Maggie (Lauren Cohan) this has only just begun.
Though she lived through the horror while battling some serious pregnancy issues, Maggie warns Rick to suck up his resolve and prepare for the fight to come! While the group picks up what’s left of both Abraham and Glenn for their return to Alexandria, Maggie and Sasha (Sonequa Martin) must make their way to he Hilltop to see the doctor. Rick minus Daryl, who is being held by Negan personally has little other choice — it really is a new day!
Steven Yeun said it best when he expressed how the culmination of his experience on The Walking Dead working with his cast mates to deliver that final epic death scene, in essence captures the authentic adulation he shared alongside this group of adventurers. The genuine horror at the loss of two of these beloved characters and the merciless end that they met, rocks the core of the group. That’s visibly experienced on the faces of all the cast members present at the whim of Negan. You can feel their fear and helplessness taking over them and building through to the final moment.
With this the first episode of what will undoubtedly turn out to be one of the series’ most remarkable seasons yet, the hope of course by many of the show’s fans is that our heroes are able to walk themselves back from from this darkly dangerous place, and make peace with what has been one of the most shocking moments on The Walking Dead. If the gloves now off, it’s anything goes on what has become the #1 show on television.