Season seven of The Walking Dead premiered on Sunday night, and after eight months of waiting and wondering who got the bat, I feel like it would have been better if the new season never started.
Let me be clear, the premier was a spectacular forray into where viewers can expect the show to go in the future. On a simple review scale, I would give the episode a nine out of 10. This isn’t a simple review, though, this is a recap.
The episode begins immediately following the events of the season six finale. Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), makes an offhand comment to Rick (Andrew Lincoln) about what he just did (which we will get to soon). Rick mentions that he plans to kill Negan at some point in the future. Negan loses his cool, and corrals Rick into the groups RV.
Negan mentions to Rick that the only chance Rick will have to kill him is by taking his own hatchet (which was just taken by Negan), and attacking Negan with it. Rick takes the bait and Negan quickly stops the attack by revealing his gun.
The two drive to a smoky, or foggy, area and Negan mentions that Rick will be working for him now. Negan tells Rick to think about what happened and what could happen and then throws Rick’s hatchet, which Negan claims as his own, into the smokey walker hell. Then tells Rick to go get it.
The hatchet somehow ends up on top of the RV (???) and Rick, after a few close calls, ends up on top of the RV, and then flashes back.
It’s dark again, and the group is in the semi circle. From Rick’s perspective, we see the eenie-meanie-miny-moe game Negan plays to select his victim. After a completely arbitrary, no rules game, Negan picks…Abraham (Michael Cudlitz). In one of the harder to watch scenes from television I have seen, Abrahams brain becomes a fine paste on the ground. Everyone else on the ground is visibly upset.
Daryl (Norman Reedus) loses his cool and punches Negan in the face. Negan exclaims that that behavior won’t fly. Negan mentions that the first one is free, whatever that means, and we think the slaughter is over. He quickly turns, though, and gives a strong bash to the comic character of this fate, Glenn (Steven Yuen).
This totally caught me off guard, and honestly, sickened me in a way I didn’t expect. Glenn has been around since the pilot, and his death is just devastating.
Back to the present, Ricks snaps back to reality when Negan starts shooting through the top of the RV. Rick jumps up and grabs the hatchet and jumps to the front of the RV, where a walker is hanging from a noose from a bridge. The walkers gather below and Rick’s fate looks like it is sealed. Just before the walker’s neck breaks, Negan mows down the walkers below Rick, and tells him that is his last chance.
Rick finds the hatchet and moves to the door of the RV, and gets surrounded. Negan helps him out one last time by giving him some covering fire. Rick gets back into the RV and it looks like Negan will use the hatchet to relieve Rick of his arm (he does not).
Back at the circle, Negan tells Rick that he wants him to be terrified and not look at him like Negan had just “shit in [Rick’s] scrambled eggs.” That doesn’t work for Negan. He summons Carl (Chandler Riggs) and uses a belt to cut off circulation to his arm. Negan tells Rick that if he does not cut off Carl’s arm, Negan’s men will kill every single member of Rick’s community.
At the last second, Rick relents and goes to cut Carl’s arm. In his infinite mercy, Negan stops Rick, obviously satisfied at Rick’s frame of mind.
The episode ends with an utter submission of Rick to Negan and his people. Glenn and Abraham are buried, and the new world is cemented in place.
This was a truly heart wrenching episode. If anything though, it really makes me excited for the rest of the season. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.