“The Walking Dead” is returning much more quietly than it’s fall premiere plus a lot less gruesome. Season 7 kicked off with a cringe-inducing double murder that was able to turn the stomachs of even its most longtime fans desensitized to the show’s splatter fest.
This was the first episode I can recall where people were saying the show had gone too far. Fans not used to seeing Rick Grims and company being put their paces weren’t happy as they were all driven down by Negan into misery and subjugation for several episodes. Seeing Daryl Dixon forced naked in a jail cell eating scraps was a shocking change, but it was necessary to show the ramifications the group had when they went after Negan in season six.
While Negan may at times be absurdly cartoonish with his antics, he’s the worst villain to be on “The Walking Dead,” and the only one to take Rick Grimes down to his core where he’s lost even more than when he was taking phone calls from his dead wife many seasons back.
The last episode of season 7A gave us hope as the crew got back together, and they know they have to fight Negan again or continue losing ratings and driving fans away. It won’t be easy as they’ve now got to band together with other groups to help in their taking down Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s memorable bad guy.
For those that might be a little foggy on how things ended in December, here’s the breakdown review from Heart’s Still Beating and then those questions for the Sunday premiere.
The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 8 Hearts Still Beating Recap Review
Kids. Stay out of pool halls. Nothing good ever comes of it.
Could get stabbed. Maybe shot at. And even cause the death of a friend.
That’s the lesson learned in the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead.
This was a nice wrap-up to a tough season for the good guys. Sure, Team Grimes lost another team member. But the tide is turning. Even if only slightly.
Negan is still in full control, but his excessive bullying is gonna come back to bite him. He’s gotten away with terror tactics on folks that saw fighting back as futile.
Now he’s fucked with the wrong group.
A group that is now ready to go out on their shield if need be.
The episode started and ended with a shot of Maggie at the Hilltop gate. We got a reminder of how big a prick Gregory is, and I’m not sure he will last much longer.
Meanwhile, Negan is playing top chef at Rick’s house. He’s kinda impatient waiting for Rick to get back so he can tell him how Carl tried to assassinate him with the machine gun.
Rick and Aaron were busy getting to the little houseboat that the mystery doomsday prepper left behind. The duo managed to make it to the boat, but Aaron nearly bit the dust when he was yanked into the water.
Guess what, though. The prepper isn’t dead. Someone is watching Rick and Aaron as they load up the guns and supplies. I’m thinking this ninja prepper, whom we see at the very end of the episode, was waiting for someone to take his stuff.
He was out of ammo, so he wanted to find a new group. Anyone who made it through his obstacle course would be pretty powerful so that would be a good group for him to align himself with. Or herself?
We only got a tiny taste of the story at The Kingdom. We see Richard begging Carol and Morgan to help convince Ezekiel that they must fight off the Saviors. This little slave deal they have going doesn’t sit well with Richard at all. He knows it will fall apart soon anyway. So why not fight sooner rather than later.
Were you shocked to see Daryl actually escape his cell?
Me too. I figured it was a trick all along. But he made it all the way out, along with Jesus. Of course, he had to use a steel pipe on the brains of Fat Joey before leaving on his motorcycle.
And he also yanked Rick’s hawg-leg pistol back from fat boy too. Could he have let the guy walk away like he begged? Yep, but no way Daryl was taking any chances on getting caught and sent back to his dog crate.
Michonne’s field trip with her hostage didn’t help much. She did realize how formidable Negan’s group is though after seeing the massive layout. She just headed home after popping her carjacking victim with her own pistol and silencer.
When Rick and Aaron arrive back in Alexandria, they get bullied and Aaron takes a real beating just for the hell of it. Nothing they can do. Take it or get someone killed.
Speaking of which, Spencer’s plan to get on Negan’s good side went terribly wrong. Turns out Negan doesn’t like a gutless wonder trying to get him to do Spencer’s dirty work. So he spills Spencer’s guts all over the street.
Didn’t even finish the game of pool.
Negan did slip up and ask the worst question ever. “Anyone want to finish the game?”
Rosita took him up on his offer and took a shot at the king with her single bullet. Barney Fife would have been proud.
But to quote Omar Little from The Wire, “Come at the King, you best not miss.”
Or more accurately, she hit Lucille instead of Negan. Damn, that was close. And it would have been cool to see Rosita take him out.
Not yet folks. The build up has to continue.
Negan is super pissed at this attempt on his life. He was just playing a friendly game of pool after all. This may change his mind about getting that vacation home in Alexandria he mentioned. Crime rate is just too high there.
Who paid the price for Rosita taking a shot at the king? Poor Oliva. She was murdered and still got insulted after the fact. Negan is cruel in case you have yet to notice.
So Eugene fesses up about making the bullet that is now embedded in Lucille. And he is taken back with Negan and company.
Rick put down zombie Spencer to complete the end of the Monroe family. His brother, mom, and dad all ended up dead after the arrival of Team Grimes. Thanks for coming.
The episode ended with Rick seeing the light as he and Michonne talked things over in the makeshift jail cell. Keep that location in mind for part 2 of season 7.
Rick is now ready to fight. Michonne says just being alive is important. But “it’s what we do with our lives that matters.”
They will find a way. A sensible way to fight an army that far outnumbers them, even if they are joined by the Hilltoppers and Kingdom dwellers.
The show concluded with a shot of Maggie on the wall again. This time, we saw hope on her face though.
Rick and the others walked inside, and hugs were shared.
The best of which was Daryl and Rick. No words needed. The gravity of what they both have been through showed on their faces. Daryl had been treated like a mutt for the past few weeks, and Rick has had his pride ripped from him as he’s watched his people tortured.
Norman Reedus is so good. My daughter actually clapped wildly when she saw him appear from the background at the Hilltop.
Daryl handed over the hawg-leg back to Rick as well. They may not have any bullets, but this group is well on its way to rising up.
The first few episodes of part 2, season 7, should show some careful planning. It has to be more than combining forces with other communities. The attack plan has to be super smart and unconventional.
Negan may be the most ruthless villain we have seen on TWD. Yet he puts himself in harm’s way often. Carl could have killed him. And if not for TV luck, Rosita would have put him down.
The next battle Rick and crew wage should be one that they know for sure they can win. Short term and long.
“He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot will be victorious.”
– The Art of War
Top 7 Questions The Walking Dead Premiere Will Answer
Who all got killed, again?
Glenn and Abraham were the big ones, of course. We also lost Spencer and Olivia, but they were pretty marginal. Daryl and Eugene were taken by the Saviors, but Daryl escaped.
Glenn and Abraham’s brutal deaths set a gloomy tone for the first half of the season, which was primarily about Rick and friends grieving the loss and being victimized by Negan and the Saviors. We also met some new groups, and … well, that was about it. But eventually enough was enough, and the midseason finale ended with the core good guys reuniting, determined to throw off the yoke of Savior oppression.
So is a revolt coming?
The tagline for this half is Rise Up, so it seems like a safe bet. Perhaps the more pertinent question is, when will the revolt happen? Teasers find Rick on a diplomatic mission to bring groups like the Hilltop and the Kingdom into the effort. How long will it take to persuade them to join the fight? Hard to say. Will it all be resolved this season? Considering that Negan doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon, probably not.
Will we meet any more groups?
Season 7 has kicked off a new phase of “The Walking Dead” marked by colonies that are collaborating and clashing as civilization recreates itself in a postapocalyptic dawn. So far, in addition to the Saviors and Alexandria, we’ve met the weak but industrious Hilltop, led by the sniveling Gregory; the Kingdom, led by the Ren-Faire poser King Ezekiel; and Oceanside, an all-female group, led by the hard-nosed Natania, who hates outsiders but has lots of guns. There are also the Wolves, a murderous gang that was a real problem last season but hasn’t been a factor in Season 7.
So is that it? Or are there more introductions to come? Based on this season’s general world-expanding tendencies, it seems likely.
Who owned that mysterious pair of boots?
O.K., it seems very likely. The boots in question glimpsed in the midseason finale near the pond where Rick and Aaron found supplies, could very easily belong to someone from yet another group.
What’s up with that zombie herd?
In the last episode, we saw Saviors tending a herd of walkers, which may or may not be the same herd the Alexandrians loosed from the quarry at the beginning of Season 6. Whatever its provenance, the swarm seems sure to come into play somehow — we all know what Chekhov said about zombie herds hanging out on the highway.
When’s Carol going to snap out of it?
Carol has been a real bummer this season, moping through her scant few scenes as people like Morgan and King Ezekiel tried to breach the antisocial cocoon she’s spun around herself. They were unsuccessful, and after she’d sufficiently healed from her gunshot wound, Carol got herself a hermit’s hut on the outskirts of the Kingdom.
You’ll recall that the mousy housewife turned stone killer reached a breaking point last season, and sought to distance herself from others so she wouldn’t have to kill again. Carol would seem to be too intelligent to believe such a policy is possible in a lawless hellscape, but perhaps we’ll learn that there’s more to it. Or maybe she just needed some me time. Maybe she’ll learn about Glenn and Abraham, and emerge from that cocoon as a battling butterfly of righteous vengeance.
Whatever the case, here’s hoping she returns to the center of the show somehow, as it has suffered from the absence of both Carol and Melissa McBride, who plays her with grit and grace.
Will Negan tone it down?
Jeffrey Dean Morgan is electric in his performance, which is unfortunately also full of affected mannerisms — wild exclamations, an odd backbend-type move — that quickly grew tiresome. A big villain helps to give “The Walking Dead” focus, and Mr. Morgan has shown promise, so hopefully he and the writers will find the actual man behind the tics.