Review: The Walking Dead (Season 7, Episode 1)

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Harrowing

Was it exciting or just plain harrowing? Innovating the show but potentially at the cost of alienating viewers, people will just have to decide for themselves whether TWD has gone too far.

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The Season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead was conflicting to say the least. It’s what I asked for, after all, back when the show had started to soften and become more mentally gruelling than gruesome. Kill off the main characters, I said; make it more interesting or end the series, I said. To be honest, it’s hard to say what this series opener actually achieved, and whether it was for the worse or the better.

At the centre of it all, there was an epic power play between Negan (I’d say Nasty Negan, but that perky alliteration would not be appropriate for such a terrifying villain) and Rick, which was undeniably thrilling. Newcomer Jeffrey Dean Morgan was frightening, and Andrew Lincoln’s performance was as mesmerising as ever. We were aware of the gravity of the situation without actually being made aware of the situation itself, and the held out reveal quadrupled our sense of being well and truly on the back foot. The camera was cheating and disorientating, especially with that powerful opening scene, when you think it will all be the same. Lulled into a false sense of security by Rick’s traditional words of revenge, you believe that everything will be alright and that although they may be down and out, the group are still fighting. But in that kneeled position, with the blood and sweat on his face, the fear, the detached voice of Negan’s second in command, and the sound of distant sobbing, you realise it won’t be. Those words were empty, and the lasting impact of the episode was felt by everyone watching, even while we were being kept in the dark.

You see, it was a great episode, and it was thoroughly scary, but there is a line that can be crossed, and TWD was as close as they were ever going to get. The deaths were absolutely sickening, and it was truly hard to watch. Granted, the creators achieved what they needed to, and we were shocked into submission like the rest of the group. It has set us up for a potentially interesting season (although I am still an advocate for bringing the show to a close), and Negan certainly hammered his point home to the point of barbarity.

When it was all over, the group felt so strange. There was an awkward silence that tells testament to a talented cast as tightly knit as they are. They were, for a good few minutes, a group of strangers again, who didn’t know what to do or say around each other, after the devastation and trauma they had just been through. If anything, they were like children, their timid and frightened words lost on numbed and battered bodies and minds.

The heaviness of this blow and the fallout that will follow is certainly what I wanted, but sometimes you shouldn’t always get what you want.

The Walking Dead airs Monday nights at 9pm on FOX UK. 

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