Well, Negan has certainly solidified himself as the most hated villain on The Walking Dead… or maybe it’s the writers?
Clearly, The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 1 was all about establishing just how evil Rick and company’s new foe is.
And that made for a heart-wrenching, tense and graphic hour of television. But was it too much?
The Walking Dead has certainly been a dark and violent show — the Governor beheading Hershel, cannibals, walkers ripping people apart, etc. — but the season premiere seemed to go to the extreme.
It wasn’t enough to just kill Abraham, but Negan had to go and smash Glenn’s head in, stick Rick into a herd of walkers, and then play a horrible game of “Cut off your son’s arm or everybody dies.”
It was all tough to watch, especially the actor’s reactions to the whole ordeal. The emotion and terror from each character felt raw and visceral, and there was a certain feeling of helplessness in watching Negan commit his acts, like I was right there among the group on the ground.
It’s funny though, up until Negan decided to hit Glenn, I was more annoyed with the episode than anything. After the disappointment that was The Walking Dead Season 6 Episode 16, it seemed like a ridiculous choice to drag out the reveal of who actually was killed during the premiere.
So when it came time for Negan to choose Abraham, I was more like “finally, now we know,” and that perhaps took away some of the impact of his death.
But Negan also decided to kill Glenn (imagine the guilt Daryl must be feeling after that outburst), and it felt like a harder hit.
And maybe that’s because it wasn’t the “planned” death that was in choosing Abraham or maybe it’s because we’ve know Glenn since The Walking Dead Season 1.
Or it could be because the show pulled a fake-out death with Glenn already only to bring him back so he get then get killed off not that long after.
Why do that? Because Glenn was killed by Negan in the comics? Because one death for the premiere wasn’t enough?
As much as it was a shock, it was also disappointing.
Plus, seeing Glenn with an eye partially popped out and trying to say something to Maggie was gruesome to watch.
Sometimes, you just don’t need to see every exploded piece of brain matter for the moment to be effective.
And yet, that wasn’t it for the hour, as the tension was tightened even further when Negan forced Rick to choose between cutting off Carl’s arm or getting everyone killed. Thankfully, neither option happened, as it was more of just a test for Rick to show him who has the power.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan has definitely made his mark as Negan, and there is a real scariness to a guy that seems so happy and chipper while he’s doing such dark things to others.
The rest of the cast was standout as well, delivering heartbreaking performances throughout. And how difficult was it to see that future that will never happen?
While it was clear the focus was on Negan’s position of power, I don’t think the entire episode had to be about illustrating Negan’s bullying and brutality. It was just sort of numbing by the end, and maybe that was the point? That helpless and hopeless feeling Negan wants Rick and company to feel?
I'm still curious as to where The Walking Dead Season 7 is headed, and hopefully it's not just a rehash of what we've seen with other villains, but the premiere definitely left me emotionally-drained by the end.
What did you think of the premiere? Were you shocked by the deaths? Was it too much? Sound off below, and be sure to watch The Walking Dead online.
NOTE: The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 2 airs Oct. 30 at 9/8c.
Sean McKenna was a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. He retired in May of 2017. Follow him on Twitter.