Spoiler warning: In case you've been in a coma of Rick Grimes proportions over the past few days and somehow avoided finding out who Negan killed, bookmark this page and then get going. You know what you have to do.
Think that the zombie hordes moan loudly on The Walking Dead? That's nothing compared to the noise made by the show's detractors. Throughout it all though, The Walking Dead continues to receive nigh-on unbeatable ratings thanks to its extremely devoted fan base, and the huge publicity generated by some of its more provocative storylines.
Check out some of the most shocking deaths on The Walking Dead in this clip below:
Expectations were at an all-time high then for the Season 7 premiere, which would finally reveal who met their maker at the hands of Negan and his trusty companion, Lucille. Understandably though, 202 days of waiting for an answer built up anticipation to fever-pitch levels, so some felt let down by the Season 7 premiere, including people in this very office.
However, now that the fuss is dying down and Glenn's brain gunk has begun to melt into the ground from whence it came, it's time to give "The Day Will Come When You Won't Be" the credit it deserves as the best episode of The Walking Dead yet.
Faithful To The Comics While Still Surprising Us
In the past, The Walking Dead has performed a flawless high wire act, toeing a careful line between staying true to the source material and striving to find ways to surprise viewers who are already familiar with the comics.
The pressure was on then in this adaptation of The Walking Dead #100, a pivotal issue in the comics' illustrious run — but the Season 7 premiere succeeded in perfectly capturing the essence of the story while still keeping us on our toes.
From that eye-popping moment with Glenn to Negan's final scene where he casually tossed his axe behind, comic book fans had plenty to rejoice about, while still feeling the shock factor that the rest of us endured. New sequences such as that heartbreaking dinner table moment also took the emotional impact of the original comics and increased it tenfold, reminding us once again why an adaptation of The Walking Dead comic exists in the first place.
Negan Pushed The Boundaries Of What's Acceptable On TV
Expectations were high for the arrival of Negan on The Walking Dead, and while he already impressed in the Season 6 finale, Jeffrey Dean Morgan took things to a whole new and increasingly f**ked up level with his performance here. Negan taunted our heroes with a disturbing amount of charisma that almost made us root for him at times.
It's no surprise that an actor of Morgan's caliber could pull off this role, but what's truly mind-blowing is how he kept us hooked throughout each of Negan's monologues, ratcheting up the tension to unbearable levels every time he so much as glanced at one of his prisoners.
When the moment we'd all been waiting for finally came, no one could have predicted how brutally violent Glenn's death would be. While some of the show's biggest deaths have previously been depicted off screen, the unforgiving long takes of Glenn struggling to utter his last words to Maggie pushed audiences over the edge in a way that few shows have ever managed before. There's a reason that stories like this aren't told frequently, but it's important for entertainment to push us at times, stretching the boundaries of taste so that we are forced to challenge ourselves on a very visceral level.
Forget Shane and The Governor. Hell, forget the bloody walkers. Negan's insidious charm and sheer sadism is the stuff of real nightmares, staying with the viewer long after the credits rolled and we frantically wipe away our tears.
Nothing Will Ever Be The Same Again
Horror is usually more gut-wrenching than heart-wrenching, but the Season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead broke us almost as much as Rick by the end of the episode — and that's pretty impressive, considering Rick was just a snotty shell of a man by the time Negan had finished making the former leader his bitch.
In the past, Rick's been criticized for being too brash and egotistical, so it's commendable that The Walking Dead has finally taken its lead character down a peg or two, or five, or — hell, there's no pegs left. As if it wasn't bad enough to see his friends butchered before him, Rick was then forced to amputate his own son's arm before Negan stopped him just moments before.
While Rick never actually went though with the hideous act, the fact that everyone saw him come close is something that the other survivors and especially Carl will never be able to forget. Where we once had a formidable leader who inspired confidence in his followers, we now have a broken soul who's barely hanging onto his own sanity.
Rick's not the only one who's changed though. While each of the survivors will be left traumatized by Negan's assault, Maggie will quite literally never be the same again. The death of a loved one is horrendous at the best of times, let alone when you're pregnant and have just seen your baby daddy's eye pop out as he's bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat.
Although it was forecast somewhat by the events in the comics, Glenn's death and the graphic, unflinching way that it was shown represents bold new territory for The Walking Dead. Alongside Rick, Carol, Daryl and Michonne, Glenn was arguably one of the show's few untouchable characters and now that he's gone, all bets are off.
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The Walking Dead stands in a unique position where the show doesn't need to pander to audiences anymore. After all, the views will rack up regardless, freeing the show runners to continue making brave choices in service of the story, rather than drawing in wider audiences through more contrived means.
Pay tribute to Glenn with this homage in the clip below:
Arguably, there have been more powerful moments across The Walking Dead's six seasons, including Sophia's emergence from the barn and Carol's "Look at the flowers" scene. Still, the show runners took a brave plunge here and stretched the murder of Abraham and Glenn into an entire 45 minute long episode. Few shows would ever have the balls to commit to such a painful moment in this way.
Whether you think this was the best or worst episode of The Walking Dead that's aired so far, the show is entirely unapologetic for its actions. Who else would barrage viewers with a solid 45 minutes of sheer, unadulterated misery in a way that not only enhances the story, but still captivates viewers, despite verging on sheer nihilism? Just bear in mind the words of Negan, who summed it up best by saying;