My Reaction – The Walking Dead (Season 7 – Episode 1)

Negan sizes up Rick and the gang
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Well look at that. Dawn is breakin’. It’s a brand new day, Rick! – Negan

Warning – Spoilers ahead!

It’s safe to say that this episode has gone down as one of the most anticipated episodes in the history of The Walking Dead and it certainly lived up to the wait. After the episode finished airing in the U.S.A. twitter was flooded with instant reactions, ranging from people loving how the story-line played out (albeit noticeably upset), all the way to people vowing to never watch the show again, due to the increased level of gore that this episode brought.

Let’s be honest for a second though. When the cliffhanger of the previous season is a screen covered in red after our newest antagonist, Negan (TWD Newcomer, Jeffrey Dean Morgan), has just brutally beaten an unknown member of their community to death with Lucille (his barbed-wire covered baseball bat), you can’t really expect things to be all rainbows and unicorns.

And that’s where we rejoin Rick and the gang at the start of Season 7. On their knees in front of Negan and Lucille. What they don’t realise yet is that although they’ve overcome various other adversaries in the past, Negan brings a whole new level to the role of the antagonist. He’s about to make The Governor look like a pussycat.

While there are moments outside of this line-up, the majority of the episode is monologued to Jeffrey Dean Morgan whose charisma shines through in his casting as Negan. He shows his ultimately calm persona that likes to be in control, however if you cross him the wrong way, like Rick & Co have, then he will expect vengeance.

Unfortunately for Abraham, he received the wrong end of Lucille and was the source of the blood splatter at the end of season 6. While this may have seemed too much for some viewers, Daryll’s outburst of leaping up to land a punch on Negan ultimately led to the most shocking death of the series so far.

Now, I already told you people, first one’s free, then… what’d I say? I said I would shut that shit down! – Negan

After finishing his talk on how he’s a man of his word, Negan then swings around and lands Lucille on the head of Glenn with such force that he leaves a dent in his forehead and one of his eyes bulging out of his skull. Negan then relentlessly hit Glenn until he’s nothing but a body with a bloody pile of mess where his head used to be.

It’s at this point that we see the true extent of how dangerous Negan is. His cool and collected demeanour hides the fact that he’s a psychopath in one of the purest forms. He thrives on control. If he doesn’t have control, he will play mind games until that control is back in his hands.

Personally, I can’t wait to see how the survivors of the Alexandria Safe-Zone manage to cope under this new regime. The preview for episode 2 shows Rick confronting the remaining members and telling them that he’s no longer in charge.  I guess we’ll have to wait and see how true to his word that he is, and whether he’s plotting an uprising to gain back control.

However that’s not to say that the episode was flawless. For example I found the acting from Maggie (Lauren Cohen) wasn’t quite up to scratch. Whilst I can understand that her character had just witnessed the demise of her husband, I found her to be a bit over the top making it lack conviction.

Along side this, I found the pace could have done with picking up a notch or two in places. While Negan was engaging in his speech, once he was done torturing the survivors the pace seemed to drop leaving the end of the episode drag to a close. This may have been done to give viewers a chance to let the events of what happened sink in, but I feel it made the end of what was a gripping first two thirds fizzle out.

Although this wasn’t an action packed premiere in line with Terminus from Season 5, or the biggest horde of walkers we’d seen from Season 6, I still found it to be a solid piece of viewing and would happily give it a 4/5 and the introduction of Negan certainly opens up a new challenge for our survivors. In the words of the main man himself,

Welcome to a brand new beginning you sorry shits! – Negan

The biggest question left for me, is how will Rick cope having lost the power and the leadership role of his rag-tag bunch of survivors. Is he really the broken man that Negan has left us with, or will this spur him on to try and get further revenge?

You can see a preview of Episode 2 here:

 

I’d love to know what you guys thought in the comments below or come chat with me via @8dayssooner on Twitter.
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Mike x

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