Hi all and welcome to my next review before the Alien Covenant review tomorrow. This review is all about my favourite TV show the Walking Dead. I will mainly touch on the first episode and then my general thoughts on characters and whats coming in season 8. Warning there are spoilers ahead so if you complain I will shut that S**t down no exceptions. Finally, as this covers a whole season I will not be covering some characters as much as I could but I will probably come back to those at a later date.
After the controversial cliffhanger in season 6 the season 7 premiere delivered some of the most compelling television I have had the honour of seeing. Jeffrey Dean Morgan was at his best and the storytelling from start to finish of Negan’s (spoiler alert for people who haven’ watched season 7 for some strange reason), breaking of Rick and Alexandrian’s watching the brilliant Abraham and Glenn murdered (Michael Cudlitz and Steven Yeun), was visceral but compelling.
I felt that Negan first killing Abraham was the logical step. The death of Abraham in the comics did not fit his character and I felt he deserved a bigger more important send off. We got this in the television series. The reason why Negan killed him? Who knows maybe it was the red hair as he was and forever will be red. I did feel the fact that Abraham sat up straight when Negan first pointed Lucille at him did seal his fate. I also believe that Negan viewed him as threat as he did not look or come across as someone who would take orders from him and would keep fighting.
Despite the rumours Glenn’s death was a bit of a shock. When Daryl first struck Negan I genuinely thought that Negan would not kill Daryl but punish the group by potentially killing the reason they were out there. Maggie. Did I feel that Negan would have killed another member of the group without Daryl’s actions, yes absolutely. However, I believe this could have been Aaron or Eugene as the “innocent” parties in the group this would have a real jarring effect on them.
Glenn’s death was scene for scene so close to the comics it really showed that not only can Game Of Thrones deliver such brutal scenes on television about a character we care so dearly about.
I do believe that Negan did not want to kill Glenn and in a moment of apparent heartfelt sympathy he does show remorse before returning to the scary happy smile and confirming there would be “no exceptions”. I will get on to why I feel Negan is a bit of an enigma with regards to his emotions later. I would rank the premiere of Season 7 as high as any episode of Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad.
There is a sharp divide on walking dead fans opinion of Negan. Some fans love him (and I am one of them) and some find him too cartoonish and not a very good bad guy. I will quickly cover why I feel he is currently the best “bad guy” on television.
Negan has the charisma of a hero and on numerous occasions with Carl shows a paternal instinct to look after Carl and take him under his wing. He then goes from this to again showing a friendly relationship with Spencer before switching back killing him with that same smile on his face. You never know what he is going to to do and like Heath Ledger’s Joker even though he does have a plan he appears not to have one which makes him so scary.
A key reason Negan is hard to read for fans who do not like is the fact we do not have a backstory or how he got that way and became leader of the saviours and I hope we see that in the coming series. A key moment for me was when Carl invaded the Sanctuary. When behind closed doors and Carl is made to unveil his eye Negan breaks and apologizes to Carl. I believe that Negan has found the only way to rule is through fear and build a cult of personality. As we find later in the season the Saviours have to stick to the rules and Negan has set his own personal rules with his harem of wives and punishments. I do not honestly believe he enjoys some of his actions but in front of his men and others, he puts on a persona to instil fear into potential rivals for his power. In essence much like Rick in season 6 openly plotting to kill members of a group who have done nothing to his group he wants to rule and survive by any means necessary.
Equally, I feel Negan enjoys pushing people trying to break them be it Dwight, Rick, Carl & others to see if they are truly loyal. These mind games have so far worked for him but I feel Negan will be the master of his own downfall as we are seeing more and more groups and individuals such as Dwight plot to escape from his rule or kill him.
I truly hope that Negan is here for seasons to come as his relationship with Carl, Rick & Daryl is fascinating and great television. Jeffrey Dean Morgan nails the character and I cannot imagine anyone else playing that role, his portrayal of him is unbelievable going from happy jokey individual to emotionless killer who appears to take enjoyment in his actions.
The fall and rise of Rick Grimes
Another criticism I hear of this season is people are unhappy with Rick bending over backwards to Negan for the majority of the season. I totally understand this frustration however, this is key to the arc of the story. In the past we have seen our group battle and win and fight all the time. We have never truly seen them come up against another group that has more firepower and has the ability to break Rick’s spirit.
However, by showing these depths of despair and lack of fight as we head to season 8 and all out war the return or Rick is that much more rewarding. If Rick and the Alexandrian’s had begun their fightback straight away then for me it would nullify the impact of the deaths of Abraham and Glenn. Losing Glenn who has been with the group from the beginning and a soon to be father and Abraham who was a soldier and leader needed to effect the group in a way we have not seen before.
Andrew Lincoln as always is fantastic in the role but I do love the fact that Negan is usually a step ahead and therefore, is able to nullify some of the fightback. We are already seeing the reward of the breaking and return of Rick and I truly believe season 8 will reward us further.
The Kingdom has been a welcome addition to the show providing a totally different feel to all the other groups. King Ezekiel and Shiva’s interactions with Morgan and Carol who always steal the show really was a highlight for me. The king like Negan rules his community through a cult of personality with a larger than life character that his people want to believe in. Furthermore, he also has a freaking Tiger which is awesome. The CGI this year has been criticised quite heavily and at times it has been shocking but Shiva was fantastic. I was extremely apprehensive coming into this season but they pulled if off. I am hoping to see more screen time of the Kingdom going forward as there is so much to add to their story with the Saviours.
The hilltop was interesting as always but I felt Jesus and especially Maggie would have benefited from more screen time. Maggie suffered the greatest loss this year but we never really saw any grieving period and her struggle to continue. I also felt her time with Daryl was great but far too short and was hoping for more interaction between the pair. Xander Berkeley was fantastic as Gregory. A character I loved to hate. I am curious to see how Gregory’s trip to see Simon will pan out and if it follows what happens in the comic books.
Summary and thoughts looking towards Season 8
For me season 7 was a brilliant season. The premiere especially was on another level to all other episodes ever aired in the walking dead and rivalled the best of Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad.
I felt that although necessary for the season finale there was too much expansion with the garbage people and Oceanside. I felt Oceanshide could have been introduced at a later date and give much more screen time to the effect of Negan on the Alexandrians. Some episodes although enjoyable also did not add anything to the story such as Rick’s road trip with Michone. I felt this could have been used for more development towards new groups as this did nothing to progress Rick and Michone’s relationship or the story of the show. It was great to see them away from the group but I felt the season would have benefited from more storytelling of the saviours and Alexandria.
Looking at season 8 I feel we will see many losses and some of our most loved characters could end up as victims of the apocalypse. I do hope that the Whisperers are not welcomed to the show until the end of the season (possibly season finale) or the start of season 9. I am also looking forward to seeing more of Negan and Rick do battle to see what will be the turning point in the war to give one side an advantage that will lead them to victory.