This was posted on Sunday, October 23, 2016 on Rodney Ho's AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
SPOILERS HERE SO BEWARE
The season 7 debut was the most harrowing, unrelentingly bleak "Walking Dead" episode yet.
Rick is not in control anymore. Why? Negan breaks him in multiple, nefarious ways.
"You were in charge," Negan sneers at Rick. "You were probably addicted to it. Now, well. That's over!"
"The Walking Dead" tried to keep who Negan killed secret. But a combination of logic, speculation and rumors were correct: Abraham, then Glenn.
Negan picks Abraham, which makes logical sense given he is the biggest guy there. But after Glenn lunges after Negan while he taunts Maggie, he warns them if there is a second unwarranted outburst, there would be more pain. So when Daryl punches Negan, he decides to torture Daryl by killing Glenn instead.
The "Walking Dead" producers make Abraham's death gross enough but really amped up the ick factor with Glenn. He stops hitting Glenn at one point and we can see a bloody Glenn's left eyeball popping out. Even Negan thinks it's gross. Still conscious, Glenn looks at Maggie and burbles "Maggie, I'll find you" before Negan smashes his skull into smithereens. Lucille - Negan's beloved bat - did her job.
So after all the feints, Glenn is the first original season one player to die in many seasons. And it will have a major impact on Maggie (naturally) and Daryl, who will be forever guilty about it. (Norman Reedus on "Talking Dead" agrees on that.) Sasha and Rosita had both been romantically involved with Abraham so they will be ripped up about Abraham's death, although he did get to say "suck my nuts" before he died.
Later, Negan tests Rick, forcing him to kill off walkers at his will. But he still doesn't think Rick has truly surrendered. So he forces Rick to chop off Carl's arm or he'll kill everyone he knows. Carl gives him permission. ("We have a great doctor. Kid will be fine... Probably," Negan muses.) But just as Rick is about to do it, Negan relents. He just wants to see a particular sullen look on Rick's face. He is now subjugated.
"You belong to me," Negan says.
To top it off, Negan takes Daryl for the Saviors. He's leverage. If Rick does anything wrong, he may bring Daryl over for Rick to cut pieces off Daryl.
Negan and his Saviors leave the other eight alone, saying he will come to Alexandria for some unspecified payment in a week, Mafia style. For awhile, the survivors are silent, too consumed in grief to speak. Maggie is the first one. She wants them to fight. Rick says they have an army and there is nothing they can do but accede.
Eventually, they take Glenn and Abraham's bodies into the RV and Rick drives them back after their Worst Day Ever.
- It leaked out that scenes were shot that featured each of the 11 getting their heads smashed in. They used most of those scenes as Rick's thoughts as he's wailing at walkers.
- After Negan says that a happy ending with a Sunday dinner was never going to happen, the show features an actual Sunday dinner with both Abraham and Glenn, plus Glenn's kid, who appears about two years old. Nope. Not to be.
- While Negan is shooting up the roof of the RV, where Rick is, Rick jumps on the dude who was hanged during season six finale. Eventually, the dude's neck can't hold Rick after being hanged. So Rick slides down into a group of walkers. Negan shoots a bunch of walkers and helps clear the way for Rick to get out. Normally, this would be the grossest scene during a typical "Walking Dead" episode. But it barely qualifies as third.
- Carl (Chandler Riggs), who wasn't able to make the "Talking Dead" show, seemed to grow a couple of inches since the last scene was shot season six to season seven.
- "It was unbearable. I had to go home and sleep for a week after filming. It was rough," - Andrew Lincoln on "Talking Dead."
- "Talking Dead" gave Steven Yeun's Glenn Rhee the longest "in memoriam" in show history, deservedly so, though Abraham Ford's goodbye was comparable. He said hiding the truth for months was fun at first but then eventually "I just stopped talking to people."
- Weirdest Yeun memory from six seasons on the show: one time, he ended up with a tick on his penis.
- Michael Cudlitz on Abraham's death: "He was on borrowed time... in the group, he made it clear to Negan, if he was going to take someone, take him if it protects the rest of the group."
- Jeffrey Dean Morgan finally came out in the final moments of "Talking Dead." "In my mind, he's not a bad guy. He's still letting these guys off easy. They took quite a few of my folks. And if it weren't for Daryl, Glenn would still be alive!"
- The "Talking Dead" episode featured a torrent of rain, a rarity in Los Angeles. Host Chris Hardwick joked that the opener even made Jesus cry.
- Next week we see Morgan and Carol at the Kingdom. Scott Gimple promises it will be funny.