Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t watched The Walking Dead yet, and I suggest you do, this contains spoilers. Like a lot of them, so don’t read on if you care.
Before I begin, I would like to say that I am an avid fan of the comic books and I hated the way the show ended season 6. I wrote an entire review here. However, I don’t think that these two things should be hand in hand because I think the wrongs of the finale shouldn’t affect how much I like or don’t like the premiere.
AMC’s super hit has landed back in our living rooms as The Walking Dead returned last night with it’s season 7 premiere and it came back with a bang. The episode was a great beginning to a bleak and sad season ahead for Rick and the gang, filled with death, sweat and a father son moment that almost got messy. Let’s dissect:
The episode started off slow and kind of annoying, by leaving us in more suspense in showing the gross, smashed in head of his victim but not revealing it until almost halfway through the episode. They wanted to show the effect the death had on the group, mostly to Rick, before revealing who they offed. I get that but as a fan, it sucked to sit around and wait for the big reveal. Even so, I really enjoyed the interactions between Rick and Negan. It was raw, messy and showed what needed to happen to break Rick into a house trained puppy. The entire episode revolves around Rick and we see him as vulnerable as he has ever been in the entire series. He is a puddle of mess this entire episode, even when he tells Negan one day he will kill him, it sounds like he is slowly peeing his pants.
I don’t want to recap the whole episode, play by play style but I do want to say that the times that we saw just Rick and Negan were perfect in that Negan is charming and brutal and Rick was biding his time and trying to figure out what he needs to do to survive. The zombies and the fog were a really cool touch in these scenes and added a little more drama to the scene. It told me two things overall; one being that Rick is now broken and two that Negan is the boss of this whole show now.
The big scene everyone was waiting for finally happened and we got a shock in that 2 major character were killed in the first episode of the season. It’s obviously a devastating loss to the group and the show, but it is making way for some new, cool characters to make their way into the fold. The big deaths were Abraham and Glenn, which seemed like the right choices for the show. Abraham was first and was the initial death because he was the loser of Negan’s sick eenie meenie miney moe game. The scene was jarring but not super emotional because Abe was a cool character but not one I had deeply cared for since the beginning. Thinking that was going to be it, I kind of was annoyed to think that all of this build up was for that but then Daryl punched Negan and that does not fly with him. To teach the group a lesson, Negan turned Luciel loose on Glen, who was beaten and bloodied while crying out Maggie’s name, just like in the comic.
For those of you who don’t know the comic, this is the way it should have been done in the first place and I am glad it unfolded like this for the sake of this moment. This moment in the comic was jaw dropping and sudden in the comic. In the show, we knew something was going to happen but we didn’t know what. This was a shock and a shot to the gut but to see this scene play out in real time, played by real actors, I think it took on a different and more intense life than anything we have ever seen on the show.
The aftermath was sad and gloomy and Rick and Negan’s drive into the fog helped move the story all the way up to the second most pivotal moment in the episode, in that Rick is almost forced to chop Carl’s arm off. Negan doesn’t feel as if Rick is quite ready to be loyal, so he orders Rick to chop his own son’s arm off, almost pushing him to the brink of mental breakdown. This is long and drawn out but not in a way that is painful, I think it is purposeful in that Negan is a bad guy but he has rules and he likes to rule. This shows that 10 fold. Eventually Negan stops Rick from doing it and shows him who the boss really is.
This episode is a terribly great episode. Some of the complaints I have heard are that either it was too gory or that they are bored with being threatened and people being killed off in the show. I don’t understand how people love to hate shows like this so much. It’s a good show with moments of weakness, however a giving this episode a bad review because you’re not attached to the characters sounds like a you problem. This is a mega monster of a show, with okay dialog, amazing special effects and characters that you clearly have to love or hate. I know people have high expectations for it but this isn’t a show that is going to make you feel resolve most of the time. And yes, the producer and creator are seeing dollar signs but I think they go the message last year that you can’t treat the audience like that. The last season, minus the money grabbing finale, was good. They have created this world of crazy, fast paced people who only know to kill or be killed. This is based on a comic book for crying out loud. If you want a show that is not comic book based or is warm and fuzzy, go watch something on CBS. And if you’re numb to the violence, go watch the Avengers or something where they make sure that the brutality of comic books are long gone out of the shows/movies.
Negan is an amazing character and it seems to me like they got the casting done right. If you read the comics, last night’s episode was for them. The nervous pandering and the scared out of his mind Rick was annoying but they did right by me in that they gave us the pay off. I think this season will get out of hand and people who didn’t read the comic will be confused and those who did will be pleased. I really thought this was a strong showing for a weak end to the season last year and I think the expectations and follow through for this episode was exactly what it needed to be. We will see how the season unfolds but I think that this is a good sign that things are moving and shaking. With the addition of the Saviors group, and soon Ezekiel and the Kingdom, the Walking Dead is on it’s way to being an amazing show like it has been in the past.
Overall, this episode satisfied the need for finding out who dies, who Negan is and what the relationship between the saviors and the people at Alexandria is going to be. Rick and the group are broken and with the loss of Abraham and Glenn, the show loses two main characters who had a lot left to offer in their story. Some of the negatives in my opinion are that we waited 202 days to see who was at the end of Negan’s bat, we shouldn’t have had to wait 25 more minutes to see Rick look like a scared baby, battling himself, to finally see the demise of two major characters. It should have just happened. Also, Negan still isn’t swearing, that needs to change ASAP. Either way this was a great way to open the season, it really sets the tone and makes me want to see how the group handles the loss of Glenn and Abraham.