The ‘Walking Dead’ Survives Another Season (SPOILER ALERT!)
November 2, 2016
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It is hard to believe that AMC’s The Walking Dead has been around now for seven seasons. It seems like just yesterday that sheriff deputy Rick Grimes awoke from his coma to find a world infested by the living dead. Based off Robert Kirkman’s popular comic series, The Walking Dead takes obvious inspiration from George Romero’s Dead series. Starting in 1968 with the black and white masterpiece Night of the Living Dead, Romero redefined the conventional zombie into the human flesh eating living dead ghouls that occupy the world of The Walking Dead.
Unlike other zombie films such as 28 Days Later or World War Z, The Walking Dead has always had a grounded approach where everything else, besides from the reanimation of the dead, is completely feasible.
Where the show and comics have really stood apart is the focus on the human story of surviving the apocalypse. While the zombies are there as an ever looming threat, the true drama and action comes from surviving a world where humans are more dangerous than zombies.
Throughout the past six seasons, Rick has built a group of survivors who have become family in the new world. The group is very dynamic, with great character arcs that last many seasons. Abused wife Carol has turned into one of the most deadly characters on the show. Skittish former pizza delivery boy Glenn has now become one of the most helpful characters who always seems to survive. Outdoorsmen Daryl has come to love the group after initially leaving for a while in favor of a solitary life. The wide array of characters is what has made The Walking Dead consistently interesting; these characters feel like real characters trying to adapt to the new world order.
Rick’s group is continually pushed to the edge to survive, whether it be a resource war with the tyrannical Governor and the town of Woodbury in seasons three and four, escaping the cannibals at Terminus, or attacks by murderous wolves. By dealing with these other groups, the characters have to bend their morals and change to survive the world they live in now. Shaped by the brutality others inflict towards them, even Rick’s teenage son Carl has a couple of kills under his belt.
For those not on the internet in the past few weeks, The Walking Dead returned last Sunday night with the premiere of season seven. Yet, this is no ordinary season premiere, as it is the follow up to one of the biggest cliffhangers in television history.
Last season, Rick and company found refuge in the walled in community of Alexandria. After surviving an invasion of thousands of zombies in which many died, the group has to scavenge outside of Alexandria to find enough resources to survive. In doing so, they find another community-the Hilltop. Rick’s group makes a deal with the Hilltop to exchange resources if they can kill a warlord who has been terrorizing the community and establishing a feudal order. Negan is the head of a group known as the Saviors, who take resources from anyone they can find, normally leaving a few dead bodies. For some food from the Hilltop, Rick’s group launches their first ever primary offensive and kill dozens of Saviors. They did not kill Negan, and soon find that the Saviors are larger than they think. For killing so many Saviors, Negan takes all of Rick’s group captive and makes clear to them they are now subject to his feudal system. Before Rick and friends start giving Negan food, Negan promises to kill one of the group as punishment for all of the dead Saviors. Using a barb wire wrapped baseball bat Negan delightfully calls Lucille, season six ends with Negan beating in someone’s head-yet who is murdered was not revealed until last Sunday. If not obvious already, major spoilers ahead.
After all this time, it is revealed that Abraham Ford is Negan’s first kill. Ford came onto the show in season four as an ex-military trigger happy survivor, who ended up being one of Rick’s most trusted confidants along with Daryl and Glenn. Ford came onto the show in season four, and considering all of the build up to Negan’s kill, Ford’s death was not as impactful as the death of a character we’ve seen since season one would have been. Yet that is soon alleviated, as Negan does not kill just one of Rick’s group. Daryl lashes out in anger at Ford’s murder, which leads Negan to kill another one of the group. And with a stroke of a bat, Glenn is the next victim. The second person Rick met in the apocalypse, Glenn has been one of the most consistent cast members, and his death shocked many.
Taking on a wife in season two named Maggie, Glenn was set to be a father as Maggie has been pregnant for some time now. Far more graphic than Ford’s death, Glenn getting his head beaten in reaffirms that no one is safe in The Walking Dead. This is also one of the goriest deaths seen yet, with the initial blow to Glenn’s head popping one eyeball out and creating a huge fracture in his skull. Hearing Glenn sputter as his brain is protruding, Negan instantly becomes a far more vicious and dangerous adversary than the Governor ever was.
Besides from that, the season premiere does not have much to it. While the two deaths are very impactful, there is little to advance the story other than establishing that Negan is going to be a hard threat for the group to overcome. We have not seen Rick subject himself to anyone else’s authority yet, so seeing him get ordered around like a dog by Negan and Rick following is disconcerting to say the least. The rest of the season is sure to focus on the attempt to overthrow Negan and the Saviors, and there is certainly going to be a body count when that day comes.
The premiere episode was titled “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be”. This is a recall to the finale of season one. Rick’s group at that time found themselves taking shelter inside of the CDC, where only one doctor remained. With the power drained, the CDC was rigged to explode with everyone inside. The remaining doctor, Jenner, was content dying in an explosion as the world around them had become a living nightmare. After pleading to give them a shot in the outside world, Jenner opens the doors of the complex for Rick’s group to escape. Rick tells Jenner he is grateful for the chance to survive, to which Jenner says “the day will come when you won’t be”. Flash forward five seasons, Rick might have reached that point where it would’ve been better to stay in the CDC and face a quick death. Since the CDC, Rick has had to kill his best friend, face his wife’s death, kill dozens of people in very brutal ways, and worst of all, and make decisions for the group that ends in casualties, most recently being Ford and Glenn’s brutal murders.
Right now, there are not many reasons to be hopeful for the group, as they are essentially slaves to Negan now, and there are sure to be more deaths. One things is for sure: The Walking Dead has reached its darkest hour with the premiere of season seven.