Updated: Apr 30
Negan. Did we ever think anyone or anything could shake the very foundation of Rick and the team. Viewers of the Walking Dead series 7 premiere got to see it and a whole lot more. If you had watched the last season finale the constant mention of the name Negan built up a mountain of anticipation. By the end of the episode we were left at the edge of our sofas wondering which member of the team was going to bear the brunt of Negan's wrath. After months of waiting the Sunday night audience found out why Walking Dead characters trembled when anyone uttered "Negan".
The premiere starts where it left off last season with the team in a semi-circle on their knees hands bound behind their backs. Rick being the leader was in the middle upfront where he becomes the focal point of Negan's lecture. Negan determining who will pay for the insolent infringement on his authority by Rick and the team decides to play a demented game of "Eeny meeny miny moe" where Abraham is the unlucky winner. Clouded by the emotional stress being pressed on the team Daryl then lashes out at Negan with a punch to the face and is quickly restrained by henchmen. Negan takes the blow with a joking composure hinting that this sort of behavior will not be tolerated. He then continues his tirade of how life as they know it is over and he is in charge while casually working his way to Glenn where he gruesomely bludgeons him in the head in retaliation for Daryl's outburst.
Before I continue further I have to say that the graphic violent nature of this episode visually and mentally is very powerful. Viewers should be prepared as there will most likely be a period of reflection afterwards. Moving on, after the gruesome beating on the team Negan is still not convinced Rick understands who is now in charge. He then drags Rick off into his trailer for a ride into a zombie infested area where he is determined to make him understand. The trailer now stopped and surrounded by zombies Negan decides to throw a handaxe on the roof of the vehicle and demands Rick go outside and fetch it. Rick hesitant is eventually thrown outside by Negan where he fights his way through a large number of zombies to retrieve the item and make it back safely into the trailer. Negan content his lesson in submission was successful drives back to where they left the group to further convince them of his dominance.
Upon returning to the rest of group Negan still unconvinced of Rick's sincerity of understanding places one more final ultimatum on him. Given an impossible choice of having to cut his son's forearm off or witness the execution of his entire team Rick finally breaks. What Rick does next I will leave to watchers of the show if you haven't already seen it. Ultimately the violent insanity subsides and Negan drives off with his army of henchman expecting an offering every week from Rick and the team.
My feelings on this episode are mixed as I'm sure the makers definitely accomplished what they set out to in regards to shock factor. Was all the excessive heart felt gore necessary to get the message across though. It definitely tipped toed the line of being over the top and I have a high tolerance for violent on-screen fiction. Negan is truly the quintessential villain and one you will love to hate. I keep wondering if there is any chance Glenn would still be around if Daryl didn't have his uncontrolled outburst. Will Rick forever now be in the service of Negan or will the group fight back to take down yet another would be tyrant in a post-apocalyptic zombie world. I guess we need to keep watching.