Pee-Pee Pants City
Unless you’ve been under a massive rock for the last six months, you’ve probably heard a thing or two about a dude named Negan and his girlfriend, Lucille (she’s not really his girlfriend, for you non-TWD fans). You might not even be a fan of The Walking Dead, but I’m sure that you have at least one friend who is that hasn’t shut up about it recently.
In any case, let me get you up to speed if you don’t know what is going on with the TWD season opener. Basically, last season ended with a cliffhanger. It was a glorious cliffhanger in my opinion because it baited folks for the season seven opener. That’s what cliffhangers do. Despite no new shows (unless you count the forgettable Fear The Walking Dead), TWD stayed in the headlines on a lot of social media and entertainment pages because everybody was trying to figure out who met the business end of Negan’s barbed-wire wrapped bat, Lucille. There were a lot of other people (products of the instant gratification age) griping that the cliffhanger was the worst possible way to end the season because they didn’t know who died. Yet I’m pretty sure that all of them showed up on Sunday night to find out what really went down.
Well, Sunday night finally arrived and we all got the answer. Sure, folks who’ve read the comics had a pretty good idea about who might meet their demise, but the show has been known to go off on wild tangents in the past just to keep things interesting. There are characters that have died early on in the series that are either still alive or died later in the comics and a few characters have been knocked off in place of other characters.
Warning: Reading beyond this point means spoilers await you. STOP READING NOW if you do not wish to find out who died in the season seven opener!!!
The latest episode brought us back to Negan’s world, where he has a whole bunch of Rick’s group on their knees. Some are scared, some defiant, and none of them knowing what to do. Negan is pacing in front of the group and explaining to them in fairly clear terms that he must punish one of them for stepping out of line in his world. In his hand is Lucille, his beloved dealer of punishment, and he begins to play a game of Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Mo with the group (just like at the end of last season). He points his bat at each member of the group and finally makes his selection. He swings, compliments his victim for taking it like a champ, and then swings some more. Crunches, screams, tears, groans. All are present while the beating is going down.
The show managed to carry out the suspense for a bit longer thanks to flashbacks to the events that lead up to the thrashing. We also see Rick tell Negan that he is going to kill him…..eventually. This leads Negan to take Rick for a ride in the RV and then proceed to verbally and mentally torture him throughout the rest of the episode. This particular string of events has become quite controversial, as well as the violence shown on screen during the beatings, but I’ll get to both later.
The victim, if you don’t already know, is Abraham. Before his untimely demise, he manages to flash a peace sign at Sasha, which makes her break down into even more tears. Negan proceeds to pound in Abraham’s skull. We are only shown a couple of the whacks on Abe’s noggin before they cut to Negan’s face and an occasional glimpse of Lucille as she becomes laced with gore. The production uses sounds to deliver the gruesomeness of the scene, and they do so with perfection.
But wait! There’s more!
Whenever Abraham goes down, a lot of people are understandably upset. The character has quickly become a fan favorite during his run on the show, and Michael Cudlitz has given us more one-liners in his time with the cast than pretty much all of the others combined. Cudlitz also seems to be a genuinely cool dude in real life, so seeing his character go was tough.
However, The Walking Dead has always killed off fan favorites. This is nothing new. It’s the nature of the show and I highly doubt that it’s going to change any time soon. Yes, Abraham and his brilliant “dolphin smooth” phrases are gone, but life goes on.
After Abraham’s death, many folks gave out sighs of relief because their favorite, whether it was Daryl, Carl, Maggie, or one of the other members of Rick’s crew, were still breathing. But Negan wasn’t finished with them yet.
We bounce back to Negan’s torture of Rick for a little bit and we witness him break down everybody’s favorite zombie apocalypse deputy even more. Negan is relentless, forcing Rick to go after his ax amongst a horde of walkers engulfed in fog.
Then we cut back to the lineup and we find Negan realizing that he just pounded in the skull of Rosita’s former lover. He begins to taunt her and this pushes Daryl to the limit. He jumps at Negan but is quickly subdued. Negan’s men hold Daryl down and Dwight aims Daryl’s crossbow at him. But Daryl lives to fight another day as Negan tells his men to put Daryl back in the lineup.
That’s when the shocker happens.
Negan reminds the group that he let the first attack on him slide because it was a very emotional time for the group. But this second attack would not go unpunished. Negan pontificates a little bit more about his rules and then, out of nowhere, he pops Glenn in the noggin. This actually caught me off guard. I wasn’t expecting a second death (despite having caught wind that multiple cast members might be dying in the season opener.
Negan continues to pound on poor Glenn, even making one of his eyes pop out of the socket. Glenn tells Maggie that he’ll find her and then he succumbs to the multiple swings of Lucille.
But that’s STILL not all!
Negan continues his torture of Rick. He forces Carl to the ground and draws a line across the arm of Rick’s son. He then gives Rick his ax and tells him to cut off Carl’s arm at the line. Rick is at a loss. We get to see him fall to pieces and beg Negan to let him cut his own arm off (hinting at a moment in the comic that involved the Governor). Negan pushes on, demanding that Rick do it or he’ll bash in Carl’s head with Lucille. Carl tells his father to “just do it” and Rick lifts the ax, only to be stopped by Negan at the last moment.
I immediately thought of the Old Testament story of Abraham and his son, Isaac. For those of you who don’t know, Abraham’s faith is being tested by God, and He asks Abraham to kill his own son when no other sacrificial animal is available. Abraham then proceeds to bind Isaac and is about to kill him whenever an angel stops him.
Perhaps this event during the show was meant to show the god-like power that Negan held over not only Rick, but his entire group. It also could have been meant as a nod to the Biblical story and Abraham, who had been killed by Negan. Perhaps it was just director Greg Nicotero’s way of making people talk even more about a show that seemingly everyone is talking about????
In any case, Rick is broken, Glenn and Abraham are dead, and the group finds themselves at a point where they have no plan of action and no real way of winning….at the moment. Maggie, despite just witnessing the death of a friend and of the father of her child and being sick due to complications with her pregnancy, picks herself up and tells Rick that they have to go back to Alexandria and figure out a way to fight Negan. The group carries off their deceased friends, and the episode ends.
The Aftermath (And My Two Cents)
I know of no other episode that has caused as much friction with the fans as this one. Many people have publicly decried the episode for its violence despite the fact that there have been decapitations, people ripped apart while alive, machetes through skulls, the shooting of children, and many other violent acts throughout the entirety of the series. Others have complained that the payoff for the cliffhanger wasn’t satisfactory because (all of a sudden) they knew who was going to die in the first place and that the last six months of speculation were wasted. Some have even gone so far as to say that the show has become a “kill of the week” series, where character development has died and gore and violence have become to focus.
To all of those people I say, “Where have you been?”
From the beginning this series has been about the living characters (the real Walking Dead). We’ve witnessed Rick go from being an honest and ethical man to a person who is forced to do things that he doesn’t want to do but must in order to survive. We’ve seen him make good choices, bad choices, and a few stupid moves as well. He’s learned from all of them. He’s gone a bit crazy at times as well, but who can really blame him?
We’ve seen Carol go from a meek, domestically abused mother to the literal mother of all butt kickers. She, too, went a little crazy, but I’m sure she’s going to be back on track soon enough.
Carl, Abraham, T-Dogg, Merle, Maggie, Daryl, Glenn, Beth, Eugene, Lori, Andrea, Morgan, Deanna, Lizzie, and almost every other character that had any decent amount of screen time was changed in some way. That’s still happening with characters like Enid, Gabriel, and even Dwight. If you don’t see these characters developing, you’re looking in the wrong direction and focusing on the violence.
For those of you that feel cheated by the cliffhanger ending and/or the cliffhanger payoff, I have to ask you what did you really expect? The cliffhanger was meant to force you to talk about the series while it was on its break. You say that you felt manipulated? Yep, you were. That’s what cliffhangers do. You felt like something bigger should have happened? Exactly how many skulls did Negan need to bash in to get his point across to you that he is a bad man? Why did Glenn or Abraham have to die? Hello! Zombie apocalypse where all sense of order has broken down?!?!?!?
Yes, the episode was extremely violent, but I’d bet you ten dollars that the people griping about the lack of character development were also the same ones griping that episodes that focused on one character (like the Morgan episode) weren’t violent enough. Also, Negan’s character developed more and more with each swing of the bat. It was violent character development, and I’m pretty sure that we all now know just how nasty Negan can be without a doubt!
Also, for all of those people that instantly claimed that they called the death of two characters, I highly doubt that you actually picked them both. Sure, you might have called Glenn’s death or Abraham’s death, but I seriously doubt that many people actually thought that Negan was going to kill two people from the lineup. Sheesh, the interwebz can fluster me so easily sometimes!
I’m sorry. I had to get on my soapbox for a bit there. I promise that I’m finished for the moment.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Well, once the dust settles on this latest season opener of The Walking Dead, we have this guy to look forward to:
You see? That’s how this show has always worked. Characters live. Characters die. New characters arrive to add to the story. The season opener was pretty good, but I definitely think that the rest of this season of The Walking Dead has a whole lot more surprises waiting for us.
Are you ready?
As always, thanks for reading. Comment below if you disagree with me (and I bet that a few of you do) and feel free to share this post with your friends. Oh, and here’s a photo of me and Steven Yeun from a few years ago. He was a cool dude and I’ll miss him on the show. Thanks for being a great part of the show, Steven!