For Walking Dead fans, this summer has been a hard slog. The season 6 finale was the most divisive show since Lost and The Sopranos ended but considering the hype it’s had, it now seems like a masterstroke.
You may have been expecting things to pick up exactly where they left off but you’d be mistaken. They made us wait all summer and they were going to make us wait a little longer to find out the fate of our group.
We had to wait until the first ad break was finished to see events unfold in a bloody, nonchalant fashion and it’ll go down as one of The Walking Dead’s most talked about episodes. That’s really saying something considering the episodes we had at Terminus, the Church and the Prison but the introduction of Lucille and Negan is something darker.
Up until this point, the worst ‘bad guy’ we had was The Governor. He had a full season and a half to be our hate figure but Negan makes him look like a sweet little puppy. You see, The Governor killed because he had to. He saw the prison as a safe place and no-one was going to get in his way. Negan kills with a smile on his face, to make a point and to subjectify his enemy. We can all deal with psychopaths on TV. We’ve seen them a hundred times before but Negan has visually broken Rick’s group and made them his own. At least, that’s how it seems right now.
You have to give massive kudos to Jeffrey Dean Morgan because his performance is up there with one of the best I’ve seen for a new enemy. We’ve only really seen him in one full episode but he’s already inspired feelings of dread and hatred in the viewers.
Considering how the episode panned out, Negan had to take centre stage and boy did he do that. The only real story progression was that we now know who met Lucille and the group are now under the rule of the Saviors. It was an episode that was based on two separate events that we knew were coming but more importantly, we now know what makes Negan tick and what lengths he’ll go to.
It’s set the season up in a way that’s really hard to predict and for The Walking Dead, that’s extremely important. We’ve been on a merry-go-round since Season 2 and it was in dire need of something a little more refreshing. The struggle moving forward is how the group can keep Alexandria ticking over whilst they try to survive under Negan’s dictatorship and that’s something entirely new to us.
As for the episode itself, it’s one of the most brutal things I’ve ever seen on TV. I can’t quite figure out if a line was crossed with the sheer violence on display but I suppose if you’d panned away, it gives Negan a get out of jail free card. By seeing each stroke of his bat connect, it sets his brutality in stone with no chance to escape it.
Wisely, I think that’s all we’ll see of Negan until episode 3. We’re probably heading to The Kingdom next to see what’s happened to Morgan and Carol and it’s probably a good call to give us a bit of respite.