Warning: The following review discusses the season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead in detail. Spoilers will be revealed. Proceed at your own risk. For our spoiler free review, click here.
After more than six months of waiting and speculation, viewers of the hit zombie apocalypse TV show, The Walking Dead, finally had the answer to the burning question… “Who got Lucille’d?”
Where We Left Off
Let’s take a minute to revisit that fateful day in April 2016. Fans were preparing themselves for a potential death of a beloved character. There was little hope as several of our favorite survivors were kneeling in front of the latest “big bad”, Negan. The episode grew closer to the end, with the final moments ticking down, only to be left with the infamous POV of a bat crashing down on an unknown victim’s head. The gasp heard around the world… not necessarily because of what happened. Rather, who did it happen to? Needless to say, the TWD fan base reacted something like this:
The backlash began instantly. Skepticism exploded on social media, at the water cooler, basically every corner of the fandom. TWD showrunner Scott M. Gimple was prepared for the backlash, claiming it was all for the greater good of the show, not just a PR stunt. AMC held a conference call with Gimple and members of the media the morning after the finale aired, during which the cliffhanger was addressed. Gimple said:
The reasoning behind this was in many ways what we saw last night was the end of the story of season 6. Where Rick winds up is completely different from where he started in [episode] 1 [the season premiere] and where he started in [episode] 9 [the midseason premiere]. I know obviously and I’ve known for a while what is in [the season 7 premiere]. Presenting what occurs, to show what happened in full force, is the beginning of the next story.
Did The Season 7 Premiere Deliver?
Frankly, the speculation leading up to the reveal was exhausting. So much that I personally didn’t feel the impact as much as I thought I would. Admittedly, I am a TWD Superfan, and I have my pulse on the community through Facebook groups, podcasts, and other avenues. There were hints and clues out there to the identity of the victim(s), some of which needed a little digging, but others were pretty out in the open. One would have had to search the spoiler boards to know that both Steven Yeun and Michael Cudlitz had not been seen on set since the conclusion of episode one’s filming. But there were news stories on various outlets in April about Yeun’s casting in the sci-fi flick Okja, which was filming in Korea around the time that TWD season 7 began filming in Georgia. Also, there were reports of Cudlitz showing up at various appearances without his trademark orange hair and beard, which was a major tell.
Despite knowing who the potential victims were, there was no real knowledge of who was killed first, or how it happened. So there was still an element of surprise during the episode, even to this seasoned superfan.
The Day Came When Someone Won’t Be
We started the episode exactly where we left off during the season 6 finale – right after someone got Lucille’d. The first three minutes of the show had already been released to the public as teaser footage at New York Comic Con a little over two weeks ago. I was personally very nervous… is this all we were going to get? There was a massive pile of what was someone’s head on the ground as Rick was dragged to the RV by Negan for a “talk”. I was hoping that the death was not going to be glossed over, and the victim only to be revealed by name. Thankfully, I was wrong…
It wasn’t until we returned from the second commercial break, about 20 minutes into the episode, that the first victim was revealed. The now infamous “eenie-meenie-miny-mo” scene is replayed from Rick’s perspective, and the bat lands on Sgt. Abraham Ford, who puts up his hands conceding, takes it like a champ, and spouts his final Abrahamlet line, “Suck my Nuts”, as he goes down.
After Negan bashes Abraham’s skull in, he taunts Rosita, to which Daryl rises up in rage and attacks Negan. But that was a bad call. “That is a No-No” says Negan. “Not one bit of that s–t flies here.” After which he says he is a man of his word, saying he needs the group to know him. Bam! He swings and clocks Glenn in the face with the bat. Glenn hauntingly addresses Maggie as he is dying, “I will find you.”
The deaths were brutal. The special effects were amazing. (My favorite part of The Talking Dead that aired after the episode was when they showed behind the scenes footage of Yeun and Cudlitz from the makeup trailer when they were having their prosthetics applied. “He looks like the Toxic Avenger” someone laughs when Yeun is talking to the camera.) Thank you, Greg Nicotero and team, for not letting us down.
Overall, the response on social media and other various outlets seems to be positive. I’ve only seen a couple of rage quitters, and those were more upset about WHO was killed, not the actual quality of the show or storytelling.
What did you think of the episode? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.