Monday, October 24, 2016

'The Walking Dead' Season 7 Premiere Reveals Surprise in Wrath of Negan

Having never actually read 'The Walking Dead' comic book, I never got all that familiar with the events that transpire there, although like everyone else, I had heard some talk from people who did about characters and events who were coming.

I hear about Negan maybe a year or two before he actually began to make his appearance, and heard about Glen's death through a beating from a baseball bat, and in front of a pregnant Maggie, to boot. 

However, in their infinite wisdom, the producers of 'The Walking Dead' decided to keep the victim a secret for roughly half a year, which angered fans tremendously. I myself was one of them, seeing little sense in keeping this whole thing a secret. Why do that? What sense does it make to keep the thing a secret? With all of the gimmicks and tricks that got quite a few fans up in arms last year, and had many people swearing off the series forever (whether they meant it or not is another story), why end an entire season in such a controversial manner?

Well, after months of waiting, we finally got our answers in the season 7 premiere and, I must say, it does make a bit more sense now, why they chose to wait. Still think that they did not need to do that, and could have packaged this whole thing in such a way as to make the results equally shocking for both the season 6 finale and season 7 premiere.

Let's talk a bit more about that but, before we do, let me just give anyone who wants to watch the episode, but has not done so yet, a chance to walk away before reading any spoilers here. 

********************SPOILER ALERT!!!********************

Can I assume now that whoever does not want the spoiler has walked away, so that any surprises will be left for watching the show itself?

This is your last chance!

Okay, do not say that you were not warned.

Right. So, the producers left not one victim, but two victims to ponder. And the entire show was basically to produce just the right circumstances for Negan to break Rick down, to take away any hope or sense of power or pride that he might yet have, and to make sure that the viewer saw that the group was entirely powerless and defeated for the first time.

One of the things that a fan who had actually read the comics told me was that most people thought that Negan was even worse than the Governor. He himself did not think so, and claimed that the Governor was way worse. He may have been, although Negan's ability to organize his people and produce the right circumstances for his total control over them, and to force this usually very strong and independent group to go down on their knees, literally, and to break them to his will, has to be taken into consideration. That was something that the Governor only wished he could have done, but never actually managed to do.

Negan established himself almost right away as a villain to be dealt with, by killing off not just one victim, but two. 

Indeed, the one picked after his game of "eenie meenie miney mo" was, indeed, Abraham.

And like many other fans, my initial reaction was one of disappointment. It's not that I did not like Abraham, or anything. In fact, like many other fans, his unusual sayings and strong persona had made him likable. It was just that he was a bit too new to have really gotten into his character. He was only beginning to open up, to reveal himself on a deeper level, last season. And really, he was so new, that he only had last season to work with.

So, when he went down, the initial reaction on my end was to think that they had, indeed, blown it. 

Still, from Negan's perspective, it made sense to choose Abraham, which probably was not so random after all. Abraham was the only one in the group who looked unafraid, who was staring Negan in the face and showing no fear, and no backing down. He, like the rest of the group, was on his knees, although he almost stood taller while doing so, volunteering himself. Plus, he was physically bigger and stronger than Negan, which would probably feel like a threat. So, on that score, it made sense to eliminate Abraham.

But I also suspected that there was more. Had to be more.

And indeed, there was more. 

Right after killing Abraham, Daryl jumps up and attacks Negan, and then is quickly restrained and put back on his knees. 

At that moment, it seemed entirely plausible that Negan was going to kill Daryl.

That is not the direction that the writers chose, however. Negan reiterated how he was going to "break that shit" down right away, that kind of revolt. And so he did, but not by killing Daryl. Rather, he did so by taking the bat to Glen, and following the comic line (Issue number 100).

Glen took the beating, but before death, he got back up on his knees and, looking towards Maggie, said that he would find her. He said a bunch of other stuff, as well, which was mostly incoherent. The makeup people did an incredible job in making Glen look like he had just taken a beating, and Negan commented on how gross he looked, establishing his credentials still more as a villain, before finishing Glen off with Lucille, claiming that she was a vampire thirsting for blood. 

So, there were two victims, and not just one! That made sense, and in terms of the death of a mysterious character being the end of one story, and these two deaths, and the other mental mastery that Negan imposed over the group during this episode, you do get the sense that this was another story. In 'The Talking Dead' episode that aired right after the show, and which was filmed live in a Los Angeles cemetery and featured almost the entire cast of TWD, it was mentioned that this was such a huge event, that it creates a before and after scenario. There was life for the group before Negan, and life after. 

Still, Rick's words to Negan right after the two killings was that he was going to kill him. Not today, not tomorrow, but eventually. This prompted Negan to drag Rick off, take him for a ride, and force him to retrieve his ax outside of the truck, while being surrounded by zombies, of course.

Yet even after this, Rick still was looking at Negan with a look that the new villain did not particularly like, so he forced his hand and finally broke Rick by taking his son and drawing a line on his arm, then ordering Rick to chop off that arm with the same ax. 

At that point, finally, Rick seemed to have his fighting spirit sucked out of him.

Negan was satisfied that the lesson was learned, that the group was his, and that he had won.

Essentially, Negan's group walks off right then, leaving the group their first real moment to process what had happened.

Maggie was the first one up, and said that they needed to fight Negan. She was the only one to express that kind of a sentiment.

In the sneak previews of the next episode, we hear Rick basically laying down his leadership, and claiming that Negan is the new leader now. 

Hmmm...intriguing, although we know that there will surely be much more to it than that!

Let's stay tuned to see what happens next!

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