Last night, the season premiere for The Walking Dead aired and picked up right where we left off in season six, with Negan asserting his will on our familiar cast of survivors. Before we go any further with my thoughts from the episode I think I should point out a couple of things…
(WARNING SEASON SEVEN SPOILERS AHEAD)
– If you have watched any of our past WDFL videos, you know our faith in this show has been trending downward for a long time.
– Brandon has already called it quits and plans to just follow the “plot” points via Wikipedia synopsizes.
– I (Travis) want to give the show one last chance to take us in another direction or develop some sort of interesting story outside of just waiting to see who will die next.
Okay, with all that said, back to last night. The focus of this episode was all about Negan and Rick and the new balance of power. Negan used some, unconventional techniques to break Rick down and get him following orders. These included separating him from his group and putting him needlessly in harm’s way to prove that Negan could make him do whatever he wanted. There was also the little father-son moment at the end with Carl, but I’ll get to that later. These scenes were important in showing how Rick’s character would be taken from Alpha Dog to sick puppy, but I was too preoccupied with who got killed off, to really care so much about Rick fetching the ax. Leaving the audience hanging past two commercial breaks felt like the creative team dragging out a reveal we as an audience had already spent a whole summer waiting on. So without further ado, let’s talk about who got killed.
We knew when we left season six, that one of the group would meet their end via a close encounter with Lucille. And while the dramatic tension of that season six finale was left to fester over the course of the summer, it was finally time to see who the victim would be. So we get a replay of the events from the end of season six (in an attempt to regain the dramatic feels that we had during that episode) and finally after a game of Ee-ne Me-ne Mi-ne Mo (that by the way, made no sense with him jumping around out of order like that. C’mon Negan! Have you never played Eni Meni before? #rigged) Lucille is left pointing at Abraham.
My first thought? Boo. Too easy. Once again the show builds up the likeability of a character just to kill them off once we really start to care about them. I also was really rooting for Glen to get killed because it would be more in line with the comics and, while I still mostly like Glen, felt the fake death last year was a copout and it was time for them to do something big. So Abe gets killed and then Darryl loses his cool (not altogether shocking). There is a tickle of enjoyment in seeing Darryl land that punch on Negan, but I feel like there is a lot that happens or could happen as a result of Darryl’s sudden outburst:
– It is this action that gets Darryl carted away on his own with Negan’s crew. Will Negan find a way to use Darryl? Or was this just a way of getting one of Rick’s strongest off his side.
– This forces Negan to keep to his word, and off yet another character. He makes it clear that he will back up what he says with action and that his is to be respected and feared. Finally it’s Glen’s turn to meet Lucille.
– Glen’s death is rough… and the eye… that was gross. Heartbreaking send off for one of the show’s oldest characters.
– The guilt that Darryl has to feel for being responsible for Glen getting killed. That should stay with him for a long time. If it doesn’t, the writers have already failed.
So yeah, we get two for the price of one. Glen and Abraham get killed and we lose Darryl to the back of a van in the process. As if the pulping of two character skulls wasn’t enough violence and gore, we are treated to one last high pressure situation with the potential of bloodshed. In order to push Rick over the edge, Negan gets a gun pointed at everyone’s head, draws a line on Carl’s arm and tells Rick to cut off Carl’s arm or everyone gets shot. This moment was intense, in the worst “would you rather” sort of way, and in the end Negan lets Rick go far enough as to commit to the thought of maiming his son, without actually making him do it. :: Whew ::
So in the end, Rick is now in Negan’s pocket and expected to deliver offerings every week. He is completely broken emotionally, but somehow still expected to lead his crew. Maggie and Sasha are breaking off to get Maggie the help she needs, and I’m sure they are in for some zany adventures along the way. Darryl is gone to go play with Negan some more, what could possibly go wrong? Oh and apparently there is a tiger in an upcoming episode, because why wouldn’t there be? All told I thought it was a strong season premiere, but that is normal for this show. It is the in-between episodes that will have to show some strong plot development to keep me tuning in.
The Walking Dead started out as a really interesting story about a group of normal people, forced to find ways to survive in this terrible zombie wasteland. As we got to know more about the characters, and grew attached to some, the way the show was willing to kill off even the characters we loved made it feel like nobody was safe. As we rolled past seasons of Governors, Cannibals and suburban shut-ins, the show has become less and less about the terror of the walkers and more about the terrors that people are capable of in this extreme environment. My fear is that there is no direction the show can take us in to resolve that fact. There really is no happy ending for these characters despite the fantasy shown in last night’s episode (that scene with everyone at the dinner table). So where does that leave us? A shocking or sad (truthful) ending to the show where we see even the biggest names on the show die? If we keep being exposed to scenes like we saw last night, will it really mean that much when it happens? Are we growing numb to these deaths as our characters wait around for the next member to die? Is there any hope for satisfying resolution? To be honest, I’m not sure that there is. Maybe that is why many online have already given up on the show. I’m willing to give it one more chance.
How about you… did you watch the premiere? Are you still in love with the show or do you feel it is getting stale? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.