‘The Walking Dead’ does not disappoint with its heart-wrenching season premiere


Graphic courtesy of Suzie Sun

Negan does not hold back in the Season 7 premiere of “The Walking Dead”

Grace Downing, Forum Editor

Just a couple weeks ago, “The Walking Dead” aired its much-anticipated Season 7 premiere that went far beyond my highest expectations and worst nightmares – especially considering the six-month-long hype it underwent since the finale’s heart-stopping cliffhanger.

Season 6 finished off in a pretty bleak spot for Rick Grimes and the rest of his group of zombie-killing warriors. Negan and his Saviors – a group who had been believed to be exterminated by Rick’s people – had shown that they are far stronger and their numbers far greater than previously imagined. The Saviors had managed to trap Rick and many of the core members of his group in the woods, where they were introduced to Negan, who did not fail to demonstrate his charisma and dark humor from the start. The episode left us with a brutal cliffhanger when Negan decided to kill one of Rick’s people as payback but failed to show the audience exactly who that doomed person was.

Now, after enduring six months of nail-biting anticipation of just who could have met their demise at the hands of this psycho, the gruesome details have finally been relinquished.

And I have to give “The Walking Dead” credit. After cruelly deciding to make us wait this long to find out who Negan killed, I had high expectations for this season’s premiere, and I was well aware of the numerous ways this episode could easily turn into a massive disappointment.

But, to my surprise–and great horror–it met its promises of a worthwhile wait and exceeded them with gut-wrenching finality.

Here’s the three major things “The Walking Dead” executed well in this episode:






1. The kills. The biggest question for this episode was of course who Negan chose to slaughter with his barbed-wire encompassed bat he named Lucille. Many of the candidates were lead characters, some of whom have been on the show since the first season. In the comics this series is based on, Glenn Rhee – who had gone from pizza delivery boy to one of Rick’s most trusted friends – is the one who meets his fatal end. And fittingly so, because as one of the most beloved and selfless characters in the comics and the show, it makes sense that his death would be the most harrowing. Many thought the show would make the same call, but I had doubts that it would be willing to lose a groundbreaking character like Glenn.

When the bat finally came down, it was not Glenn on the other end but military sergeant and deliverer of the most gut-busting catchphrases, Abraham Ford. As much as I genuinely loved him as a character, and as gruesome as it was to have to watch his head get beaten to a pulp while his sobbing loved ones looked on in disbelief, this moment wasn’t nearly as agonizing as I had expected it to be. It was, frankly, a little bit anti-climactic.

That is, until Negan decided that just one horrific death wasn’t enough for Rick and his people to learn their lesson, and proceeded to bring Lucille down on none other than Glenn himself. That one did the trick. The excruciating horror of having to witness someone who might be my favorite character getting his head cracked open and his eye popped out while he desperately tries to utter one last line of comfort to his mortified wife, had me in speechless disbelief. Not only did “The Walking Dead” come through on its promise of an agonizing death, it went one step further and took out another adored and beloved character for good measure. That takes guts.



2. Making Negan believably terrifying. The most important aspect about the introduction of Negan’s character, was the fact that he needed to be doubtlessly terrifying. After six seasons of observing the terrors of the zombie-filled, lawless wasteland that is “The Walking Dead,” it takes a lot for someone to seem like a real threat to Rick and his group. But from the hundreds of bloodthirsty helpers Negan has at his service, to the cringe-worthy jokes he cracks in the midst of his seemingly routine slaughters, it quickly became clear that Negan resides on an entirely new level of monstrosity – one that Rick and his people have never seen before. And that brings me to my last point.



3. The plausible breaking of Rick Grimes. After Negan killed Abraham and Glenn, Rick responded in a very “Rick” way, when he said, “I’m gonna kill you…not today, not tomorrow, but I’m gonna kill you.” Over the course of the show, Rick has become increasingly more willing to fight for what is his, and is in no way accustomed to taking orders from someone else – especially not from someone like Negan. So when Rick said this to him, it was expected that he would want to get revenge for what Negan did, and that he honestly believed he would, someday.

But Negan doesn’t stand for this kind of thinking, and responded by shoving Rick’s son, Carl, on the ground in front of him, and telling Rick that he would have to cut his own son’s arm off unless he wanted the rest of his people to die.

Having just witnessed two brutal murders, guns to the heads the rest of his people, and surrounded by the multitudes of Negan’s men, Rick found himself completely trapped. For the first time in a long time, Rick had no control over the situation. No amount of pleading would change Negan’s mind, and only when Rick finally raised the axe to Carl’s arm, inches from cutting it off, did Negan stop him.

With fear raking through Rick’s trembling body as his head shakily nodded to each one of Negan’s commands, it was clear that Negan had finally broken this seemingly unbreakable man, and with him, the rest of the group.



Overall, this episode exceeded my expectations, and opened the door to an intriguing season that I hope will explore just how Rick’s people will be able to make a comeback against a power hungry tyrant with an enormous army and no remorse.