To say “Dead” fans were devastated by this episode’s end would be an understatement.
Although many were well-prepared for losing someone, The Walking Dead still packed a punch emotionally, mentally, and even physically.
The Walking Dead’s season 7 premiere was a brilliant episode, brimming with emotional trauma, hyper-realistic gore, and an absolute sense of hopelessness.
It was brutal. It was cruel. It was needed.
Abraham was a tough loss to swallow. Although some had a nagging feeling that he would be the one to fall from the metallic teeth of Lucille, it was still terribly hard to watch, especially from Rick’s point-of-view. Fans had to sit, helpless—just like Rick—as Negan battered Abraham into a headless pulp. What made his death so bitter was the fact that he had just accepted his new life with Sasha—he was finally hopeful for the future, ready to be a lovestruck man to potentially start a family.
However, Abraham’s death was not as tragic as Glenn’s.
Unlike Abraham, Glenn had been a main character of the show since its first episode back in 2010. He had grown from a seemingly average pizza delivery boy to not only Rick’s right-hand man, but a beacon of hope. He was loyal, he was sincere, and he was about to be a father.
Fans have grown with Glenn, witnessed his maturation as both a survivor and a man and watched him fall in love. They watched him find his way back to Maggie, always. They watched him retain his humanity in a cutthroat world.
While Abraham was the strength of the group, Glenn was the heart—Glenn embodied the hope of the future as man able to keep some shred of decency despite civilization’s downfall. While Carl, Morgan, Carol, and most of the others had resorted to killing many to get by, Glenn had only killed one person.
Despite tons of crying, many were thankful that Scott Gimple revealed the victims in this episode. Before, they had teased the viewers with Glenn’s fate over the span of a few episodes, which angered many fans. However, to see both Abraham and Glenn bludgeoned the death—the latter due to Daryl’s outburst—was bittersweet.
Even worse was witnessing these cruel ends from Rick’s perspective. For the course of the show, Rick has been the central icon of strength and perseverance. He has survived despite all odds, evolving into a formidable leader who, although he has his faults, always tries to do what is best for the group.
Now, he is nothing but a slave.
Negan stripped Rick of his manhood—he crushed our bearded leader in all ways possible. To see Rick as nothing but a dog to Master Negan was almost as shocking as Abraham and Glenn’s death. His rebellious spirit against evil was shaken out of him by Negan’s excessive violence, overzealous attitude, and massive army.
And yet, Rick is the bad guy. To the viewers, they don’t see this—we have followed the Atlanta group for seven seasons now, and know them as nothing but good-intentioned survivors. To Negan, however, they killed off a large chunk of his group for seemingly no reason. This is the hard truth. Before this episode, Negan had never touched any of Rick’s group, and so from his eyes, Rick is the evil that needs to be terminated.
And so, what better way to do it than to make them into helpless servants?
Despite the sheer brutality of this premiere, it was a hauntingly beautiful episode. Gimple delivered a tragic script with an even more tragic point-of-view. By filming from Rick’s perspective, we were on our knees alongside the Atlanta group. We were just as helpless as Rick, as Michonne, as Maggie, as everybody.
The chronology, too, was masterful. If they had immediately picked up where the season six finale left off, it would not have been as intense or barbaric. By building up to the Lucille’s bashing, they put us back in the scene, having us feel as much pain as Rick had felt.
The reason this episode, and show, is tremendous is because of our attachment to the characters. We identify with many of these characters, especially Glenn, who was the underdog of the zombie apocalypse that we were all rooting for.
This episode put most in a dark place. It made people feel wholly hopeless, as if this is the end for Rick, for Alexandria, and for their freedom of mind and soul. Unlike any other antagonist, Negan made Rick beg for forgiveness and leniency. Rick, a man who has spat in the face of countless foes, has never dealt with a man as festive, as savage, as dynamic as Negan.
Despite the tragic losses of both Abraham and Glenn, this episode was well-worth the wait. Jeffrey Dean Morgan embodied the cruelty and exuberance of Negan. Fans wanted to watch more of him but wanted him to die a slow death at the same time whereas Glenn’s final words—“I’ll find you”—to Maggie was such a brilliantly delivered line by Steven Yeun, who had me bawling despite knowing of his same death in the comics. His last statement to his pregnant wife was overwhelming—we had to be Maggie as we powerlessly watched Glenn bashed to death in front of us.
Let’s raise a glass in hope that next week’s episode is a tad joyful (and that Negan dies quite painfully).