Warning: SPOILERS AHEAD
Last night, Season 7 of The Walking Dead premiered on AMC. Brutal doesn’t even begin to describe it. You know, it’s one thing to know it’s coming. It was a whole other thing to watch it all go down. Back in April, I wrongfully predicted by the time this premiere came around, I would be numb to the outcome. I, like so many viewers, was pissed at last season’s cliffhanger. However, after watching countless episodes on rerun this summer and the two-hour recap special last week, I was probably more emotionally invested going into the premiere than I was at the end of the finale in the spring. Plus, I am nine months pregnant so I am generally one giant raw nerve.
To my surprise, the premiere started right where the finale left off. I assumed there would be some Morgan and Carol story and time to drag out the inevitable. Instead, we skipped ahead a bit to Rick’s reaction to the killings and then went back to relive the nightmare through his eyes. Rick was unhinged from the onset but he wasn’t broken. I have to hand it to show runner, Scott Gimple for telling the story the way he did and Andrew Lincoln for so beautifully portraying Rick. The Season 7 premiere was artfully told through Rick’s eyes. We were able to feel his shock, his desperation, and his ultimate resolve to sacrifice his dignity and leadership for the safety of his remaining friends and family. With each passing moment of the premiere, we were watching a piece of Rick die. By the episode end, Rick was defeated in a way that was uncomfortable to watch. You also couldn’t help but feel a monumental shift in the show. We have seen Rick down but never out. Something about this episode felt like he was out.
At about twenty minutes in, when they finally revealed it was Abraham who died by Lucille, I wasn’t surprised. Abraham had his arc. He had let Rosita go, allowed himself to fall for Sasha, made his peace with Eugene and most importantly, made his peace with himself. He ended Season 6 ready to take it like a soldier. He so did. He sat up tall, got back up after the first hit and in true Abraham fashion, had total badass last words. I was sad to see him go but at the same time, I was oddly okay with it.
But, when Glenn got it too? I. was. not. ready.
First, I had hoped we put the whole “Glenn dying thing” to rest last season when he survived the dumpster massacre. We went through so many emotions thinking he was ripped apart beneath Nicholas that somewhere in the back of my mind, I convinced myself they wouldn’t mess with us again… at least for a few seasons. Second, I wasn’t expecting two deaths. I had heard rumors but didn’t give them much weight. Watching one person get beaten with a bat wrapped in barbed wire seemed like enough emotional trauma. Nonetheless, after Abraham was beaten to death, and Daryl got up and hit Negan in retaliation, I could feel my stomach turning. I knew there would be consequences. However, I wasn’t prepared for the sheer brutality of the depiction. From Glenn’s initial look of pure shock and terror to his eye popping out from the force of the bat to his heartfelt last words to Maggie (“I’ll find you”), I wasn’t prepared for any of it. I screamed. I cried. I had contractions. I was devastated. Why did losing Glenn hurt so bad?
I realized, in this cult world of zombie fiction, Glenn was all of us. Glenn was your best friend turned hero. Glenn was a nerd who got the girl. The “other” who became a part of the club. And Glenn and Maggie together? They were the hope and heart of the show. They were flirting during the apocalypse. They were kissing in the shower. They were making plans. They were having a baby. Losing Glenn should have hurt deeply. And it totally did. I only hope the show runners recognize the void he left and work in some way to fill it. Otherwise, the show is just going to turn into one big pit of darkness. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Highlight of the Season 7 Premiere? Jeffrey Dean “Freakin’” Morgan. Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s portrayal of Negan embodied everything I love in a villain. He was smart, calculated, funny, disarmingly charming and unpredictable. From apologizing before gleefully beating Glenn to death to getting Rick to prepare to cut off his own son’s arm, his character is unlike anything I have ever seen. I hate to say I look forward to seeing more of him… but I totally do.
Predictions? Honestly, I have no idea. I don’t know what this new world will look like. I don’t know what Rick’s leadership (or lack of) will look like or what consequences Negan’s actions will have on the future of our people. In seasons past, I routed for war. When the Governor was terrorizing the group at the prison, my money was on our group. When the Terminus folks seemed to get the better of them, I couldn’t wait to see our group take them out. However, after Negan and the Saviors left our group on their knees and Maggie made a weak call “to fight,” all I could think was, girl, no. You need to getthafugout. There are 50 states. Choose one, leave at midnight, and bring your toothbrush. Run as far and as fast as you can, and never look back. They were outnumbered. Outgunned. And frankly, out crazy-ed. The apocalypse is scary enough without having to live day-to-day at the whim of a callous man with a bat. However, judging by the preview of the upcoming season, I know fleeing is a long shot.
What I hope to see is more of the Kingdom. I’d like to find out more about Negan and the Saviors. I want to see some happiness for Maggie, who at this point has lost everyone. I’d also like to see more of Richonne (rarr). We need it. I didn’t think it was possible after seeing Hershel decapitated and Carol killing sick people and kids, but this show has somehow managed to get a whole helluva a lot darker.