**WARNING: SPOILERS FOR THE SEASON 7 PREMIERE OF THE WALKING DEAD BELOW**
Eenie, meenie, minie, MO! When we last left Rick and the gang, Negan had just decided who his victim would be. Viewers didn’t get to see it last season, but fear not dead-heads, AMC has decided that 8 months of torture was enough.
The season premiere starts with the teaser released by AMC a week or so ago. After the traumatic bludgeoning, Rick promises, “I’m gonna kill you. Not today, not tomorrow, but I’m gonna kill you.”
The episode wasn’t really about Negan’s victims, you read that right, VICTIMS (more on that later). The episode itself was mostly about Negan breaking Rick down. Reports have already said that Rick will be taking a backseat to Negan for at least the first bit of the season. While I love that we actually see Negan methodically break Rick down throughout the episode, I’m afraid that this episode is prefacing the show glossing over one of my favorite arcs out of the comics, “Something to Fear.”
While Rick seems completely broken right now, Maggie’s speech at the end of the episode is sure to rally the troops for the next arc, “All Out War.” I may be jumping the gun in assuming that this will be the case, but I just think it would be a huge mistake to not take the entire season to establish just how great Negan is at being bad.
I’ve intentionally left the biggest spoiler for the episode, the victims, out until the middle of the review. I know a lot of people will groan about the fact we had to wait to see Abraham and Glenn meet their fates with Lucille, but I think it was a great move by the writing staff to hold off on the reveal. When season 7 started filming, the crew filmed multiple death scenes for more reasons than one. The obvious reason was to throw off any snoopers from spoiling what happened for the rest of us. Those clips didn’t go to waste though. Once Negan takes Rick into the RV, he echos the same sentiment to Rick over and over. “Think about what happened Rick. Think about what could still happen.”
I feel like this will be a recurring theme throughout at least the first half of the season, but in this episode it also lent itself to the narrative beautifully. Not only did it preface us finally seeing who the victims were, but it also provided a rare moment of reflection for Rick.
I’m biased when it comes to Negan. He is the Joker to Rick’s Batman, and Jeffery Dean Morgan was PHENOMENAL in his first full episode with the role. The show has been lacking a constant, looming threat in the form of a good villain since the beginning. (That watered-down version of The Governor was by NO means a good villain in my opinion.) Most of you are going to hate him after what he did to Glenn and Abe. I also think that many of you will also see just how necessary he’s going to be to the show. Jeffery Dean Morgan’s portrayal has me fully invested; sign me up for as many seasons of him playing Negan as you want to AMC…I’m there!
Most viewers won’t list this episode as one of their favorites. The episode as a whole was very dark, brutal, and grotesque, but it was insanely well done. Robert Kirkman has said that he regrets the way Abraham died in the comics, but I think Abraham got the death worthy of such a badass character (he also manages to sneak in one last one-liner before he dies, but I’m not going to spoil that one for any of you!).
This premiere may not be one of your favorites, but in my opinion it’s done the best job out of the 7 premieres at setting up story-lines for the rest of the season. We’re going to see Maggie become the leader that she’s flashed the potential of being. Rick, Daryl, Sasha, and Rosita are going to be going through some big changes too. Daryl is going to have to deal with the guilt over what happened to Glenn. Rosita and Sasha will share a story-line over the death of Abraham. Rick is going to completely change the way he views the world. Kirkman has proven he’s not afraid to go against the comic book so I won’t speculate over what all of this means quite yet…only time will tell!
This episode was a great way to kick off the new season. The executions won’t be easy for anyone that’s emotionally invested in the show to watch. I’d highly recommend jumping on-board if you haven’t been following the show. I’m going to go on record right now and say that season 7 will be the best one yet if this episode is any indication. It had something for every fan of the show, and they’re just getting started. The preview for next week’s episode is below!