What the hell did I just watch? I started The Walking Dead Season 7 debut episode feeling morbidly excited and saying “ooh I wonder who it is that got killed?”. By the time the credits had rolled I felt sick, shocked and I had that fight-or-flight response I very rarely get. I blame fatherhood for making me such a wreck with things like this now. Anyway, here are my thoughts on it…***SPOILER ALERT. DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE WALKING DEAD SEASON 7 EPISODE 1***
This is way off track for this blog but I’m putting it in the Random category.
Season 6 ending
Season 6 ended with Rick and most of the gang being ambushed by Negan and his crew. There is no way out here, a miraculous AMC twist was looking less and less likely as things progressed. Soon the whole gang was on their knees, surrounded by dozens of men with guns – when this happens in a TV show it’s basically the producers saying “don’t expect them to get free here folks”.
We also know that someone gets killed. Rather brutally too, since the final clip was someone’s head being bashed in with Negan’s bat – which had barbed wire wrapped round it. I’m not sure that actually added anything to the weapon though. A blow with the bat would be quite enough I think!
The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 1: the opening
The episode opens immediately with Rick and Negan. Negan is clearly trying to break Rick, trying to bend him to his own will in some “KNEEL BEFORE ZOD” type way. There’s a frustrating scene with an axe where Rick has an opportunity to cut The Walking Dead Season 7 short by 11 or so episodes, but he fails. I saw about 4 opportunities where I could have done it, but we always do that don’t we? All things considered, I couldn’t have done it when I’d just witnessed two of my friends literally get their head turned to mush.
Negan and Rick take a short road trip, after which Negan plays fetch with Rick and his Axe. It is as Rick is laying on his back on top of the RV that you see via a flashback who Negan’s victim was. It was Abraham…to start with. He took two hits to the head with the bat and STILL managed to get a “suck my nuts” out before his head was obliterated. I felt sick – not just because I liked Abraham, but the scene got to me. He wasn’t knocked out instantly, he actually had time to come to terms with what was happening to him. He took it like a trooper though, that made me feel a bit better.
Next, Daryl took a hero-swing at Negan. I mean…if you have time to do that at least attempt to break his neck or something! A measly punch?! Come on Daryl!
As punishment for this Negan then takes the bat to Glenn. At this point nobody was expecting it, it just came out of the blue! Even though Glenn is the one who dies in the comics, the show has a history of straying from that storyline so it wasn’t a given that Glenn would die here. After Abraham died I had my guard down, I was just waiting for the episode to run its course, even though it was still only 20 minutes in.
We instantly know that it’s not Carl or Rick that gets pummelled – we knew in season 6 because Negan demands that Carl’s other eye get ripped out and fed to Rick if anyone put up a fight. The thing is, I also assumed it wasn’t Glenn – I was certain of it, because Negan chose someone in the centre of the group and Glenn as at the end. I just hadn’t anticipated him killing two people.
Personally, I think AMC teased the audience far too much here. Waiting 20 minutes to see the conclusion of the cliffhanger from the previous season is suspense overkill – despite already waiting months for it. It detracts from the scenes before it and takes their value away. I’d even started to toy with the idea that Negan had killed one of his own guys – such is the stupid stuff we see villains do in these things.
That noise though. That continuous noise of someone getting their head hit over and over with a baseball bat, punctuated by the grunts of effort Negan was putting in to the swings. That’s what got my stomach turning. That, and Glenn’s eyeball hanging out as he was conscious and trying to speak.
Don’t get me wrong, the scene was impeccably acted out, it was a stunning performance on all accounts, but I just think it was a bit TOO graphic for my liking. Maybe part of the effect was due to AMC’s PR in the months leading up to these few seconds. They are experts at this after all, they know how to play us.
Carl – one armed and dangerous
Near the end of the episode, and the final milestone of The Walking Dead Season 7 debut, Negan orders Rick to cut Carl’s arm off at the forearm. He helpfully draws a guide line with a pen after making a tourniquet with his own belt on Carl’s arm. I hate Carl, so I’m not too bothered about this. I feel for Rick, though.
I have to say here that Andrew Lincoln’s performance as Rick here was phenomenal. He conveyed all the helplessness, panic and fear necessary to make me shift uncomfortably in my seat. He did it all with his eyes too as the camera was zoomed right in – without me wanting it he had put me in his position. As a father, this scene brought in all kinds of unwelcome intrusive thoughts; “what if that was me and Evelyn? What would I do? I’d surely rather Negan’s men put bullets in everyone’s head!”.
We will never know if Rick was actually going to do it. He certainly looked like he was, but he was holding the axe too far up the shaft and there’s no way he could have got the swing to cut through the bone! Luckily, Negan stopped it – it was a test for Rick. He was broken, I felt the relief and I almost wanted to start growing some potatoes and lettuce for Negan myself!
The episode ends with Negan et al packing up and leaving Rick and the crew (sans Glenn and Abraham) on the floor with their nerves shredded. They get in the RV and drive. I hope Rick gets his shit together and becomes badass again, for me that would be the most interesting turn of events. I’m hungry for revenge on Negan, and I hope it happens.
Either way though, Carl gained an expensive-looking belt! Every cloud…
Season 7 will run until 12 December, with the second half of the season due to start in February 2017. Luckily (or unluckily for my nerves) The Walking Dead has already been renewed for an 8th season.