#TheWalkingDead has gone through many ups and downs in terms of quality, and so there was a lot hinging on Season 7 after the controversial cliffhanger finale of the preceding season. And, for many fans, the new season has failed to deliver.
Despite the excellent introduction of Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the terrifying #Negan, who brought with him the bloody reckoning wrought upon the survivors in the season premiere, the first half of Season 7 came along in fits and starts. Marked by filler like the Tara-centric episode "Swear," it's been a bit of an odd season so far.
And, yet again, a large part of the reason The Walking Dead Season 7 has been a bit of a lesser one is to do with Rick Grimes. Despite the show's ensemble nature, Rick is the character-glue that holds the group and the narrative together, and when he falters, so does the show.
We saw this before with the "Ricktatorship" of Season 2, which turned the whole thing into a bit of a slog as we watched episode after episode of Rick and Lori being terrible to the rest of the gang, and we've seen it here again in Season 7. So, what's the problem?
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In The Walking Dead comics, following the death of Glenn and the humiliation of Rick in front of the rest of the survivors, we see the gang at Alexandria appear to fall in line with Negan's orders under the command of Rick. Similarly the first half of Season 7 sees Rick kneeling to Negan after the horrors of the premiere episode.
The difference between the two lies in Rick's true motives. In the #comicbooks, Andrea — whose role in the show has been replaced by Michonne — confronts Rick when he admits that he doesnt want to fight Negan. She's disgusted at him for giving up, and after he orders Alexandria to do so, most of the town turns away from him. But here it is made clear immediately after Rick gives the speech to the town about bowing to the Saviors that we discover his real motives.
Unlike in the TV series, Rick intends to fight the Saviors right from the get-go. The reason he doesn't tell anyone aside from Jesus is because he's not sure who he can trust, and because he doesn't want to put others in danger. But right from the offset we know that Rick hasn't really given in to Negan. He has doubts — he admits to Andrea that he's not sure if they can defeat the Saviors — but still he tries. He doesn't give up even after what Negan does to him, and to his friends.
Because — in the books — Rick's personality remains more or less consistent, long-term character development aside. This is the big problem with his character in the show: He changes lanes far too often. And watching him go through the first half of the season weak and defeated felt like a disservice. Rick is a man put in a terrifying situation, but he's a hero because he never lets himself be defeated, no matter what the cost. In the show this dynamic has not yet been made clear.
Thankfully, things are going to change when The Walking Dead returns on February 12, as the newly released official synopsis from #AMC finally promises the "All Out War" we've been waiting for. Check it out below!
The first half of Season 7 saw Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and the group broken by Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), forced to fall under his will and brutally convinced to live under his rules. The second half of the season will focus on preparing for war and gathering the supplies and numbers to take Negan down once and for all.
Rick’s group will find out yet again that the world isn’t what they thought it was. It’s much bigger than anything they’ve seen so far. While they have a singular purpose – to defeat Negan – it won’t come easy. More importantly, victory will require more than Alexandria. They need the numbers of the Kingdom and the Hilltop, but, similar to how Rick felt, Ezekiel (Khary Payton) and Gregory (Xander Berkeley) do not want bloodshed. To convince them otherwise will take more than speeches. The lengths Rick and the group will have to go to in order to find weapons, food and new fighters is nothing short of remarkable.
We’ll meet new survivors in incredible places. We’ll see Rick and the group tested in ways we’ve never seen before. We’ll see treachery from people we trust. Rick is confident as he will see his group and many others band together with the common goal of taking down Negan. But no amount of planning will prepare the group for all-out war with Negan and his army.
This suggests that somehow the events of "Hearts Still Beating" have finally triggered Rick's return to glory. Perhaps it's something to do with the triumphant return of Daryl, or maybe it's the fact that Negan gutted Spencer, took Eugene hostage and ordered Olivia's death on Rick's home territory. Really, that's just overkill.
But for whatever reason, it looks like the latter half of the season is shaping up to be a bit more exciting, and hopefully we'll see Rick stepping up again to take charge. Because the Ricktatorship might be a little over the top at times, but it sure seems to work.
What do you want to see in The Walking Dead Season 7B? Have your say in the comments, and check out our side by side comparison video of Spencer's grisly end below!