The Walking Dead Season 7 Premiere

I have previously shared my thoughts on the season 6 finale of The Walking Dead. I thought that the ending was downright insulting and one of the most despicable rating grabs I have ever seen. Such a move would have been warranted if The Walking Dead was struggling in terms of viewership: It is one of the most watched shows on television.

Negan’s introduction is one of the most notorious in comics and his introduction to the show was highly anticipated mostly for the death that would ensue. To deliberately hide this development until next season insults comic book readers and the general audience. Some people say a cliffhanger was a great idea, but understand that the series still could have had a cliffhanger without a terrible call of duty view ending. A cliffhanger is an ending that leaves something unresolved, and usually refers to a situation where a character is left in peril. In the comic, the issue ends with the group crying over Glenn’s battered body. That would have been a cliffhanger as well; characters are left in a dangerous situation and a plot point is unresolved. In my opinion, that would have been much more powerful.

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I avoided watching the premiere live on sunday specifically because I didn’t want to reward the show-runners with ratings after the move they pulled. I watched the premiere about thirty minutes ago, and after taking a bit of time to gather my thoughts, I needed to share them.

SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT ON

Firstly, the double death was a surprise. It was a very prominent fan theory but one that I never paid much attention to. Two deaths seemed like overkill but after watching the episode I liked the way it was executed. I had Abraham’s death spoiled for me on social media, but he was also one of the ones I expected would die. After the ridiculous dumpster incident I didn’t think Glenn would die, but it seems like the show-runners like to mess with their fans.

Not only did Glenn die, but he died just like he did in the comic. Everything from Negan’s dialogue to him, to Glenn’s last words, to the grotesque result of the first hit.

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IMDB was surprisingly rife with users wondering why Rick let Negan kill someone. Although it is obvious that everyone would die if Rick tried anything, some people truly need to be spoon-fed. Daryl’s actions give us the clearest demonstration of what happens if  anyone doesn’t sit and accept what is happening.

Daryl is shown to be more impulsive at times, so his actions do fit the character. I knew AMC wouldn’t dare to kill him, since he is arguably the face of the franchise more than Rick is. Also, he has more teen fangirls who might stop watching if he dies.

I now wonder what Daryl’s arc will be like this season. I’m thinking we may see him struggle with survivor’s guilt, marking a shift towards a less confident Daryl. Since Daryl and Abraham are now both gone (one dead, one with the saviours) it also brings up the question of which character becomes Rick’s new right hand. Perhaps it could be Sasha, or even Gabriel for all we know.

Speaking of hands… In the comic, The Governor and his men cut off Rick’s right hand. Negan’s emphasis on the importance of a “right-hand man” got me thinking that Rick might suffer more pain by the end of the episode. By this point in the series, I never thought the show would go that route. Then Negan asks Carl to come forward. Once he started wrapping the belt around Carl’s arm, my mind drifted back to the comics again.

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This moment is a fake-out but the show-runners are forgiven. For the first time in a while, someone from the core group of characters died. I would have been livid if a relatively minor character (e.g. Aaron or Rosita) died after months of waiting. Additionally, comic book readers get a great nod the comics. We also see the extent of Negan’s mind games. Since I read the comic first I couldn’t help but feel like the meeting with Negan was dragged out due to all the extra events. However, the purpose of the meeting remained the same. Negan wants to break Rick, and he does it in spectacular fashion. Here we see Negan’s calculating mind at work, just like the comic. He knows Rick is a respected leader, and doesn’t want to make him a martyr by killing him.

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Overall, Jeffrey Dean Morgan delivered on the hype. We also got to see a small hint of the relationship that might develop between him and Carl, if the show-runners follow the comic down that route. I still feel like the cliffhanger stunted the impact of this episode but I am happy to say that I am excited for another season of The Walking Dead.

 

Glenn’s Role in The Walking Dead

This is another post I wrote for comicommand.com–  https://comicommand.com/2016/04/07/glenns-role-in-the-walking-dead/

The Walking Dead comics are now on issue 152, and one of the comic’s most iconic moments came in issue 100. The character of Negan, the leader of the Saviours, appeared for the first time and beat Glenn to death by bashing his head in with a baseball bat. Not just any baseball bat, but a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire that is affectionately referred to as Lucille.

The season six finale of The Walking Dead is now behind us and AMC’s decision to leave the identity of Negan’s victim a mystery has already been the subject of heavy criticism from numerous fans, myself included.  The decision appears to have been motivated by a desire to maximize the ratings for the season seven premiere and is a prime example of greed trumping art. Thinking about the dissatisfaction of the premiere also got me thinking why Glenn’s death is such an iconic moment in the comics. The Walking Dead featured the deaths of numerous main characters, so it is not the death itself that shocked and saddened audiences.

A key theme of the comics is the loss of innocence. This is most salient with Carl Grimes, who is seven when the events of the comics begin. Once reunited with his father, Carl quickly learns how to shoot a gun and soon displays a level of emotional strength and callousness that frightens his father at times.

While Rick’s group is on their way to D.C, one of the children, Billy, kills his twin brother. Billy doesn’t realize the impact of what he’s done, he simply reassures Andrea that his brother will come back since Billy didn’t ‘hurt his brain’. Through Billy, we see what can happen to an impressionable child trapped in this world. This fact is further driven home when Carl executes Billy while the rest of the group is sleeping. When Carl admits to Rick that he was responsible for Billy’s death, he is quick to argue that none of the adults would have been able to do it.

In many ways Glenn was one of the most innocent of Rick’s group. Despite their post-apocalyptic circumstances Glenn was one of the few members of Rick’s group that never killed another human being. Of course, this was not due to an outspoken moral objection on his part, but circumstances simply never presented themselves for a kill. As depicted in the show, Negan ambushes the group while they are on their way to another community. While Rick planned the trip in order to recruit more muscle, Glenn and Maggie were going in order to start a life together at the community. For Rick, Maggie and Glenn’s relationship was a sign that “…something good could still come out of all this.” Rick remembers Glenn as someone who saved him from being killed in Atlanta and repeatedly risked his life to get supplies for the group. Simply put, “Glenn was just…so good.”

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The second and arguably more important aspect of Glenn’s death is the crushing realization that the group is not as powerful as they thought. After meeting another community, The Hilltop, Rick’s group learns of the protection racket that the Saviours run. In return for clearing the area of walkers, the Saviours take half of The Hilltop’s supplies. The deal is also the only thing preventing the Saviours from attacking The Hilltop. Rick is quick to offer his group’s help to get rid of the Saviours, in return for setting up a trading relationship with The Hilltop. Some fans were quick to write off the offer as poor writing in the show, since it seemed like a rushed decision on Rick’s part.  However, Rick’s offer seems like an obvious one considering their circumstances. Their community, Alexandria, is running low on supplies such as food and medicine but Rick has confidence in the manpower he can offer. By this point in the comics, the group has defeated The Governor, cannibalistic hunters and several other threats that the world threw at them. After over a year together, thwarting these threats, the group came to Alexandria: a community that was literally and figuratively sheltered from the horrors of the outside world. Surrounded by numerous people who had never killed a walker or another human being, it became too easy for the group to see themselves as nearly invincible. Rick even refers to Negan and the Saviours as “hot air” prior to meeting them, arguing that he and his group have dealt with their kind before.

Rick’s outlook on the world isn’t poor writing, it is hubris. Like Icarus, Rick’s hubris is followed by a fatal fall. Once Rick and his group are on their knees, surrounded by Negan’s men and waiting to see who Negan decides to kill, it is made painfully clear that they do not have the world figured out as well as they thought. Once Negan makes his choice, Rick can only sit and watch while Glenn’s head is reduced to a messy pile. Negan lets them know that their way of life is over: “Might have even been a long time since the last person died before we came along”.

While the group stay on their knees crying over Glenn’s death, Negan lets them know that their first supply offering is due in a week.  As Negan says “Ta Ta” we see Glenn’s body lying on the ground while the group cry a few feet away. That is how you do a cliffhanger.