Negan Doesn't Disappoint
The Walking Dead is back, and our world has been rocked by Lucille.
Let's talk about the painful and brilliant Season Premiere of AMC's The Walking Dead Season 7. Dry your eyes. It's time to deconstruct.
SPOILERS for Season 7 Premiere Follow
If you haven't watch, watch. Come back and join the discussion.
Deconstruction of Rick
This entire episode was about Rick Grimes. Isn't it always. Negan deconstructs Rick from a wild beast hell bent on retribution to a whipped dog. Rick didn't waiver in his belief that their group couldn't be matched for ferocity in Season 6. They took on The Saviors and won at every turn. They just hadn't yet met Negan.
In this episode, Rick starts out completely bewildered at where they find themselves. There is no way out. And so he stays his resolve. Negan can see it in his eyes. Negan pushes further. There is no limit to the lengths Negan will go. There is a limit to how far Rick will. Rick breaks.
The rest of the season will be Rick and the group learning to fight again.
Abraham took it like a champ. But, it takes two to tango. Negan knows almost immediately that the group needs to be pushed further, so he pushes. The suspense built up and the moment came. Wheew, it was only Abraham. We liked him but it's ok. Our favorites are safe. Yet Negan pushes further.
The show is very aware that Daryl is a fan favorite. They teased his death throughout the break and picked that up heavily in the premiere. It started with the blanket he had wrapped around his shoulders being strewn in front of the puddle of blood. Is that Daryl's? The puddle itself was in the shape of an angel like the conic wings on the back of his jacket. No way! They had me convinced I read the writing on the wall. I couldn't believe they were going to kill Daryl. Negan had other plans. He knew who would break the group. He just didn't know who would break Rick yet.
They also continually had fun with Rick's comic version, in which he has only one hand. Negan even at one point tells Rick it is important to have a right hand man. Later, Rick offers his own hand as a sacrifice to save his son. It was a constant teetering back and forth with the audience. It was beautifully done.
That's why this show is successful. The writing is excellent. We're released to take a breathe and then... the hits keep coming.
By the time Negan takes his most beloved victim, we're vulnerable again. Well done.
"Oh goody!" Jeffrey Dean Morgan is excellent. He is playful and arrogant. He is limitless in how far he will go. He is focused on breaking survivors, and does so with villainous brilliance. The Governor wet our appetite for villainy. Negan is the main course.
He is Rick's evil twin. He is a counterpoint villain archetype. They are one in the same save for one primary difference. He is a powerful, deadly, determined, calculating, and wicked counterpoint. He toys with his prey like a tiger tossing his food around before sinking its teeth into its neck and ripping back. For Negan, it's a show with a purpose. The Governor was a man twisted by the new world. Negan is like Rick. He is a man forged by the new world. The one primary difference; Negan will go further than Rick. He premiere shows us how much further. It is Negan's show now.
The recipe for suspense in the best shows on TV is still fairly formulaic. They use an all too common devices in long form writing. They augment proper suspense by using the medium to build that suspense. They cut from one storyline to the next leaving us on the edge of our seats. It can be useful when employed properly and can feel like a cheap trick if over used. Cut to commercial. Let's see what everyone else is doing. Ugh!
This episode took us to the abyss and made us look it right in the eye.
The show received a fair amount of push back for Season 6 ending in such a blatant cliffhanger. Season finales are for big deaths not season premieres. For the record, The Walking Dead does not need typical TV tricks. It is a well written show. Though they used one in this instance, the show delivered on the promise. This episode was exactly what we wanted after waiting so long.
To this episode's credit, it stayed right on focus. It didn't make us wait. It did, however, ask us to blink. That is exactly what the show and the other great shows on TV do. It looked us dead in the eyes and didn't waiver. The episode kept staring back at us. It pushed us further than we expected. This episode peered directly into the abyss and didn't blink. Did you?
Beyond the Abyss
What next for the Walking Dead? For those who don't read the comics, I will just say that the world is about to get bigger. The show has teased the Kingdom.
Next week, the Kingdom come.
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