It’s been seven days & I think I’m ready to talk about the season seven premiere of The Walking Dead now.
Season six left us with one of the biggest cliffhangers in television history, with legendary comic book villain Negan finally being introduced & murdering one of the main characters – we just didn’t see who. We had to wait 188 days to find out who that person was & even though everyone had all that time to prepare, nobody was ready when it finally arrived.
Season seven picks up exactly where six left off in the episode titled “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be”. This is a direct reference to the first season finale, when Rick told Dr Jenner that he was grateful. Jenner replied “The day will come when you won’t be.”, & this seems to be that day.
The episode opened on a shot of Rick’s eyes, immediately after the deaths. This was so clever, straight away showing us that the entire episode will be from Rick’s point of view, & Rick’s experience of the night he first meets Negan. This shot of Rick’s eyes is revisited over & over throughout the episode to really keep us totally in sync with what he’s going through which was an amazing way to portray it.
I discussed my theories in a blog post before the premiere on Sunday. I talked about each character & how their death would effect the show & its audience but I was too hopeful & too stupid & naive & I’ve been in mourning all week.
So who was it who died? If you don’t want to find out, look away now.
Negan chose his victim through a game of eeny meeny miny mo, & the choice landed on Abraham. Now I know I had originally said I would be okay with Abraham getting Lucilled but it was horrible & now I will be forever guilty.
He’s the biggest & possible the most fearless member of the group & to have him taken down in front of everyone else was horrific. Abraham’s original “army” consisted of him, Rosita & Eugene so for both of them to see him murdered in front of them was awful. He was Eugene’s best friend, Rosita’s ex lover & was just starting a new relationship with Sasha: & it’s the latter he paid tribute to in his final moments.
In their growing relationship, Sasha & Abe had started a little thing where they would peace sign each other to say goodbye. As soon as Abraham realised he was going to be killed, he held out a peace sign to Sasha which I only realised after the episode & it broke my heart.
It was Eugene that really destroyed me though, who just sat silently sobbing in the background. Abe was his best friend & it was too much. Josh McDermitt was incredible.
Negan picking Abraham shows just how terrifying & logical he is – like I said, Abe was the biggest & possibly most fearless member of the group & Negan saw that. He’s also wearing military clothing & is the least submissive up to his dying breath, so killing him not only proves Negan’s strength & power but also reduces the chance of Rick’s group fighting back – with Abe being the likeliest guy with the potential to overpower Rick if the leader does succumb to Negan.
With everyone in shock over the death, Negan begins to taunt them, & upon realising the deceased’s significance to Rosita, literally thrusts Lucille, complete with hanging bits of Abe’s flesh on it in her face which was awful. Daryl lost it & lashed out at Negan, which proved to be a very bad idea.
Negan reminds the group that he warned them against anymore outbursts. Simply stating “Back to it” he immediately turns around & smashes Lucille against Glenn’s head.
It was awful.
Having the multiple deaths was a great way to add an original twist on the show & I don’t think it could have more effective any other way. Some people stated that it would have been better to kill Abraham at the end of season six & surprise us further by killing Glenn off in the opening of season seven but I really think that waiting to do both at the same time was genius – it has our heads reeling with shock the exact same way all of Rick’s group would be & it’s a shockingly memorable way to kick off a season.
Glenn will be a massive loss to the show. He was a driving point for so many thugs, & his & Maggie’s relationship was a mass fan favourite. Skull caved in, Glenn’s last words were: “Maggie I’ll find you”.
Which just killed me.
Do I blame Daryl for Glenn’s death? At first I wasn’t sure, but now I’m pretty sure I really don’t. Yes, Negan did warn against another outburst but to Daryl, Negan had already done the worst by killing one of their own. I don’t think anyone was expecting two to die, viewers included. Yes, Daryl lashing out was the reasoning behind Negan making another kill but I don’t think the choice of Glenn was random either. Glenn was the first to have an outburst earlier, so Negan’s punishing him for that as well as taking out another person he recognises as a leader. I’m sure that Negan was purposely taunting Rosita, waiting for someone to lash out so he could continue.
Maggie doesn’t blame Daryl either: she cried out when the Saviours took him. I do think Daryl will feel a huge amount of responsibility for his friend’s death though, & that his guilt will be a prominent part of this season.
The loss of Glenn also brings the total current characters who were present in the original season down to four: Rick, Carl, Daryl & Carol. Once affectionately know as the Atlanta Five, the now Atlanta Four is starting to wear very thin.
Negan is ruthless. He wants to break Rick in & treat him like a dog. His whole aim of this episode is to get Rick to succumb to him & because of Rick’s determination to fight back, that takes a long, brutal while. The first thing he tells Negan after the deaths of Abe & Glenn is “I’m gonna kill you”, & that’s not what Negan is looking for. So he literally drags Rick off & into the RV then takes him on a twisted game of fetch with loads of walkers swarming around, making him picture the worst of what could happen – & still, Rick hasn’t quite given up.
When Rick’s axe became a prominent prop in the episode, it worried fans of the comic a lot. In there, Negan uses that axe to cut Rick’s hand off, so they were just waiting for it to happen. But the show threw that on it’s head by having Negan make Rick cut his own son’s hand off instead.
It totally subverts the expectations & is even more painful to watch than if they’d copied what happened in the comic. It absolutely breaks Rick & causes him to lose it completely, while Carl lies there quietly telling his father to “just do it”.
Michonne also steps in here, which is brave as hell of her to do. She tries to calmly reason with Negan to stop – the two people in front of her are the ones closest to her in the whole world & she can’t sit by & say nothing, despite the consequences.
Carl is amazing in this last part of the episode. How anyone can still complain about his character is beyond me as heMs grown so much & really become this amazing, humble & strong character especially in this last season. People seem to forget that he went through puberty & the loss of his mother (who he had to kill by the way) in the midst of a literal zombie apocalypse & I don’t think anyone gave him any slack for that. Starting his character off in the new season this way is really emphasising the new Carl that’s brave, sensitive & strong. I really like where his character is going.
But, Negan stops Rick just before he actually does it. He doesn’t need him to do it, he just needs to know he can make him do it. Negan states what he’ll expecting from Rick’s group, & takes Daryl as hostage back with the Saviours.
Something I also missed first time I watched was one of the Saviours pausing in the background to take a photograph of Glenn’s body. Last season, Glenn found the Saviours gallery of photos of Negan’s victims who had met Lucille. That also means that all that time ago Glenn was literally looking at his future, & the show was doing some massive foreshadowing.
Then they’re gone, & everyone’s left in the aftermath of Negan. Everyone is silent, & it’s Maggie who’s the first to make a move.
I’ve been waiting a while to get to this point: Maggie. She was incredible & I was in awe of how Lauren Cohan portrayed her in this traumatising time for her. Despite loosing a friend & her husband in front of her very eyes brutally in the same night, as well as being ridiculously ill herself, one of the first things she says is that they need to get back to prepare to fight Negan.
I think Maggie will be amazing this season. As she was ill & barely able to stay upright in front of Negan he wouldn’t expect her at all to be a fighter, but she’s really grown to be an amazing leader the past season & I know she won’t ever back down from him. He totally underestimates her & I would LOVE if Maggie was the one to someday kill Negan.
Maggie struggles over to Glenn’s body & initially wants to be alone with him. She’s lost & grieving beyond belief & not in the best frame of mind, but accepts help from the others when Rick says:
I thought this was such a beautiful line, & it got the message to Maggie because she accepted the other’s help & turned to cry & hug Carl. This relationship is so important – if you remember back to season three, Maggie was the one who was there for Carl when his mother died.
Maggie has lost everything. Her mother died long before the apocalypse, then her siblings & step mother died at the hands of walkers at her family farm. Then her father was beheaded in front of her by the Governor & her sister carried out dead to her & now her husband beaten to death in front of her as well is enough to break anyone. But she is determined, & she is strong & she will fight back. That’s why she’s my favourite character.
Sasha, Rosita & Eugene joining to take Abraham’s body was wonderful. It’s silently saying that Rosita & Sasha are okay with each other, despite their similar relationships with Abe & I’m so glad they’re not going to make a petty fight out of it. They have mutual respect & I love that, & Eugene’s strong & silent performance was gut wrenching.
Then, just as we’re starting to stop crying & move on, the show gives us the most beautiful scene again from Rick’s mind – but this time, of what Rick was hoping for in the future. Negan taunted Rick, asking if he expected his group to grow old together & live a happy life & that is just what Rick wanted. We see his idealistic future, everyone out at a grand table in Alexandria, everyone alive, happy, healthy with a great spread of food. At the end sits Glenn, his son in his lap & it broke me.
It was so important to see the future that Glenn & Abraham could have hand & just made it hurt that whole lot more. It’s also very similar to what the actual cast do every time a character is killed off – they all go out to dinner with each other. It was a really lovely way to pay tribute to a character who was so part of the family & the heart of the story for so long.
The Walking Dead’s season seven premiere was it’s strongest to date, possibly even it’s strongest episode ever. Every single actor across the board was phenomenal. Andrew Lincoln & Lauren Cohan at the very minimum need to be recognised for the performance they did in this episode because it was haunting & beautiful & the gold standard of acting.
It was tense, heartbreaking, emotional & excruciating to watch & it made brilliant television. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the season.
If you want to cry over Glenn Rhee with me, tweet me here & we can comfort each other.