Review: “The Walking Dead” Season 7 Premiere – Negan’s In Charge

Written by Jesse Gelinas October 24, 2016

Who meets Lucille in The Walking Ded season 7 premiereFans were completely polarized earlier this year when AMC’s The Walking Dead ended. The introduction of the much anticipated villain, Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), was marred by the use of a controversial cliffhanger, hiding the identity of Negan’s victim. The summer was filled with angry tweets and obsessive combing over of camera angles, set photos, and everything in between searching for the answer to “who will meet Lucille?” This past Sunday, The Walking Dead returned for season 7, and while last season’s cliffhanger still hangs darkly over the episode, it does manage to be one of the best and bloodiest premieres in the show’s history. Minus a few questionable choices, of course.

*Full episode SPOILERS below*

Season 7 picks up about three minutes after Season 6’s ending. Negan’s victim is dead, Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln) face is marked with their blood, and Negan is having the time of his life, cracking bad jokes. This is where the writers proved they didn’t quite learn the whole lesson from last season’s debacle. The victim is not revealed until about twenty minutes into the episode. Instead, we see Negan trying to break Rick, as Rick remembers what just happened through flashback. The episode is terrifically acted, Lincoln’s utterly defeated Grimes is fantastic as always, and Morgan is suitably terrifying and entertaining as the charismatic but psychotic Negan. The scenes are all great, directed and showcased exactly as they should be. The only issue is that jumping timeline. To be honest, the episode would’ve been just as, if not more effective if it was just shown in chronological order. it would seem the entire point was just to drag out the suspense a little longer, while 6 months was already too long. Now, onto the juicy details.

“Think about what just happened.”

Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) is gone. The redheaded army man was “it” and met a terrible fate at the end of Negan’s beloved bat. The scene is a departure from the comic (Abraham dies before Negan is introduced), but had just as much impact for the sheer, well impact of it. Abe manages one final zinger before Lucille silences him forever. Negan’s rampage doesn’t end with ol’ Abe though. After an outburst from Daryl, the leader of the Saviors decides the group has used up their one freebie and now needs to be taught another lesson. That’s right…

Negan enjoys his work in The Walking Dead season 7 premiere

No, Daryl doesn’t die. Annoying isn’t it?

Glenn (Steven Yeun) meets the same fate as his comic book counterpart. Negan absolutely demolishes our beloved friend who’s been with us since season 1, right in front of his pregnant wife Maggie (Laura Cohen). I don’t want to say it overshadows Abe’s death, but it kind of does. The show takes direct influence from the comic, Glenn’s death mirroring the pages almost panel for panel. The second death is certainly a surprise. Fans likely thought Glenn was safe once he wasn’t singled out by Negan’s game. But, as is usually the case with The Walking Dead, no one is safe.

“I just popped your skull so hard, your eyeball just popped out! And it is gross as shit!”

After the killings, Rick refuses to break, threatening Negan. This leads to a lovely RV trip to a nearby horde where Negan does everything he can to destroy Rick’s spirit. After some walker bashing, axe-chopping, and hanging from an unfortunately non-stretchy corpse, Negan orders Rick to cut off Carl’s hand. Rick finally breaks down when faced with no choice, and Negan is satisfied. It’s a long, miserable scene, but it works so well. Negan has already solidified himself as probably the most terrifying villain in the show’s history, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan is playing it to a tee. I look forward to hopefully seeing some more of Negan’s funny side come out in later episodes, but fans may need to be eased into that after what they just saw. they may never laugh again. The episode’s title, The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be, harkens back to a line from Dr. Jenner at the CDC in Season 1. The day would come when Rick wouldn’t be grateful for being allowed to live. And it came with a vengeance.

Negan and Rick face off in The Walking Dead season 7 premiere

Absent from the episode are Carol and Morgan, on their way to a new community with men on horseback; and Tara, out on a supply run. Surely all three will have some intriguing side plots going on soon enough, and I know fans can’t wait to meet King Ezekiel and the impressive Shiva, introduced in the season 7 teaser.

“You work for me! Produce for me! Belong to me!”

Overall, The Walking Dead‘s Season 7 premiere rivals Season 5’s opener in terms of quality, and that is saying something. Sure, I’m still a little bitter at  being jerked around by the writers for 6 months and change, but I suppose they always have their reasons. It’s a terrific, effective episode that is sure to scar fans for some time. Negan is here, and he is not fucking around. Season 7 could be the show’s best yet.

My Rating: 8/10

The Walking Dead season 7 Rick poster

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About Jesse Gelinas

After years attempting to escape the Matrix, Jesse has accepted his fate as a writer and Senior Editor. Now that's he finished with his film degree, it gives him something to do while waiting for the machines to get careless.

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