After much anticipation and some backlash for Season 6 cliffhanger finale, The Walking Dead finally released its Season 7 trailer at the San Diego Comic Con. Needless to say, the trailer didn't disappoint, and it even offered fans a chance to settle back into the terrified state of mind in which they closed the latest season - with Negan's introduction alongside Lucille. In case you've been vacationing on the moon these past few days, here's a look at the #trailer for you:
With so much information packed into the three-minute trailer, there's always the chance of missing something crucial. If you're simply into a to-the-point #breakdown, this other article is a good place to get started. My intention is to go a bit further and elaborate on some plot angles that most likely will be covered in the next season, using the comic book source material as the ultimate canon.
Trailer stills are side-by-side with some moments from the comics below, followed by a brief description of what's going on in the scene. If you haven't read the comics - or simply do not wish to be spoiled - please do not read further. But I gotta tell ya, this trailer is the mother of all revelations and it sure promises an action packed Season 7 for The Walking Dead.
Without further ado ( #THEWALKINGDEADSPOILERS ) let's break this m*****f***er down - Negan style!
As The Walking Dead producer and showrunner joked at SDCC, it will not come as a surprise to anyone that Negan survives past the first episode of Season 7. Even if the identity of the character that got Lucille'd remains a secret, the aftermath of Negan's introduction is pretty obvious. Killing one of Rick's group is a game-changer, one that will force Rick to submit - one way or another - to Negan's rules.
And the rules, in Negan's case, are pretty simple: "Your property now belongs to Negan" is not just a catch phrase for the Saviors. The same thing that happened at the Hilltop last season - when Negan's men threatened the survivors if they didn't deliver half of their belongings - will undoubtedly happen in Alexandria now. Negan will come to collect half of the medication, food, clothes and whatever else he deems necessary.
"How Are We On Food?"
While we're still on the subject of food, it's worth mentioning this still from The Walking Dead Season 7 trailer that shows Negan and Olivia having a chit-chat. In the comics, when Negan comes to Alexandria for the first time to collect his half, only Dr. Denise stands up to him and his men. Since the doc has - sadly - been offed by Dwight, I wonder who might step into her shoes - if anyone will at all.
But Olivia, who is in charge of controlling Alexandria's food stock, will clearly have some one-on-one time with Negan - and suffer some bullying in the process. The fact that the producers have decided to include this shot only further proves how closely to the comics Season 7 of The Walking Dead will run, and how much of Negan's charismatic - albeit wicked - personality will play a huge part in building the layers of the villain we all love to hate.
"That Is Some F*****g Service"
He is definitely the big bad of The Walking Dead comic series and will, most certainly, be the worst enemy Rick and the gang will face on the TV show - but Negan does have a code. Part of the reason why he constantly praises himself of being a "reasonable man" throughout the comics is the fact that he believes he's entitled to half of everything. He believes that because he does offer protection for the communities against the walkers - and of course, against anyone who's crazy enough to cross Negan.
Upon his first collection in Alexandria, Negan and his men "tidy things up a bit" at the gates, which have been crowed by walkers. While he waits for the gates to open, Negan keeps his side of the deal he's forced upon Rick, and clears the entrance to the Safe Zone. Although that doesn't make the Alexandrians accept Negan it boosts his ego as he walks in Alexandria as their 'savior'.
"Welcome Home, Sir."
Something Robert Kirkman does masterfully is to build up incredible worlds within a world, giving characters some background story and a place of origin from which to spring. On The Walking Dead there's been a camp, a farm, a prison and, lately, a whole town for our survivors to explore and defend. Clearly, Negan's most terrifying pets couldn't go without a home-sweet-home to retreat to.
Welcome to the Sanctuary. It's an abandoned factory that serves as headquarters for Negan's saviors, oversees his outposts - like the one Rick and the gang destroyed in episode 6.12 - and where the majority of Negan's people actually live. It's an almost impenetrable fortress, surrounded by chained walkers and protected by Negan's soldiers. Security-wise, it seems impossible to get in or out, but further into the season we'll see a character waltz in completely unannounced - you won't hear who from me!
"You see that, boy? Respect."
The one thing Negan's charisma and striking personality don't account for is the respect his followers have for him. That comes solely from the fear with which he rules his people. Unlike another character we'll be introduced to this season, Negan does not call himself king, but he sure as hell is loved and feared as one.
He is the Saviors' judge, jury and executioner, the one authority upon which every single person relies to exercise the law. He is respected and revered for exactly that reason: "the rules keep them alive". And, one way or another, everyone must abide.
"Shut up, bitch"
That was precisely the reason why Daryl met Dwight and his partner Honey (Sherry in the comics) on the run. They were tired of paying Negan's price and Honey didn't want to be taken as one of Negan's wives. Since Dwight clearly went back to doing Negan's bidding last season - killing Dr. Denise and becoming The Walking Dead's most hated - he was made to pay the price for his escape and defiance. When he reappears, half of his face is burned and he's become one of Negan's lieutenants.
Based on the trailer, Season 7 will address the issue of how Dwight got his face burned and why. Honey is also in the trailer, which can only mean that she too is now the property of Negan. Although Dwight exists sans-Daryl in the comics, I'm thinking his story arc will follow very closely to the source. The fact that we do have Daryl on the show - should he remain alive after Negan's debut - will add the surprise factor to the Saviors' story to make comic readers go crazy about the unknown.
"I Need to Know What We're Up Against"
This one is a bit tough and - I confess - more a prediction than a certainty, but I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say Dwight will fall prey to Rick and the gang. It may not happen as soon as it does in the comics - one issue after Negan's introduction - but I'm guessing there'll be no way around it. If Daryl doesn't perish at the hands of Negan, he'll most likely be taken to the Sanctuary as a hostage.
Considering Dwight's and Daryl's history, it's pretty tough to imagine Daryl simply walking away. There's also the fact that Rick's group killed many Saviors and, should Negan kill only one of the survivors, he'll still need to prove a point. Maybe Dwight's capture by Rick might provide some leeway for a prisoner exchange to get Daryl back to the gang. Whatever comes to pass, the fact remains that Dwight does look a bit scared/surprised in that still from the trailer.
"I Need to Know What We're Up Against"
If the prediction above - that Dwight will fall captive to the Alexandrians - is correct, then this sequence will play out pretty much as in the comics. After Rick decides to let Dwight go, he'll then ask Jesus to follow him and figure out whatever he can about Negan and his people. Jesus will then follow Dwight and this unfortunate walker will be thrown by Jesus from the a bridge.
The Season 7 trailer also features Jesus climbing onto the back of a food truck, which may be linked to this sequence as well - or another one entirely featuring yet another unexpected passenger. In any way, clearly Dwight will have a tail and Jesus is better than no one else to do the job.
"You Never Enter the Kingdom Without An Escort"
The first glimpse of this new community came in the episode 'East' last season, when Rick and Morgan found a man killing walkers at a barn. He wore an armor and carried a spear, and many comic book fans instantly saw him for what he was: a soldier of the Kingdom. Then, in the finale, that same guy - with another soldier at his back - ends up helping a beaten-up Carol and Morgan into safety.
The Kingdom is a safe zone community much like Alexandria and the Hilltop, with the same interests - self-sufficiency and survival - but with a much more aware and seemingly prepared leader. They may have security and a level of prosperity, but the people in the Kingdom have also fallen prey to Negan's rules, which makes them formidable new friends for our survivors.
"Is That A Tiger?"
Some of the best comments about the trailer on Fox's YouTube channel comes from this Season 7 trailer still. I can't fathom how it's still possible for people - who claim to be The Walking Dead fans - not to know that Shiva exists, but the amount of "why is there a tiger?" or "I don't understand...a tiger?" comments is hilariously refreshing. King Ezekiel has an artistic personality and is a wonderful royal impersonator, but what he really is is Rick's best new friend.
Ezekiel and his people at the Kingdom will join forces with Rick's Alexandrians some time in this season to fight against Negan's grip over them. Whether they'll succeed or not is a matter for a couple seasons - at least - but it will be really amazing to watch. King Ezekiel and his pet tiger Shiva - who, by the way, abhors violence of any kind - will provide the men and the boost of morale Rick needs, if he's ever to defeat Negan.
"I Don't Know What The Hell Is Going On"
Carol is long gone since issue #42 in the comics - having committed suicide by letting a walker bite her - which makes any prediction about her a possible shot in the dark. Last season, Carol underwent a 180º transformation - with the forceful help of Morgan - and began to doubt her actions and herself. From the Terminus Carol - who was pretty much a female Rambo in the making - Carol went on to refusing to kill anyone else for the sake of protecting her loved ones. She left the safety of Alexandria and ended the season being shot a couple of times.
Saved by the soldiers of the Kingdom - and in Morgan's company - she appears on the trailer as the light-hearted and funny Carol that she portrayed for the benefit of the Alexandrians when she arrived in the Safe Zone. Although I'll denceit that she might be playing the same trick on the people of the Kingdom, my thoughts lean more towards the possibility that she's actually happy to be free of the pressure and responsibility that come with knowledge. In this new community, she is no one, she has no past and, therefore, people expect nothing of her. What better way to reinvent yourself than in a scenario such as this?
"We Should Have Made a Deal With Them"
Spencer has a record of making dumb decisions on The Walking Dead. From trying to abseil his way out of Alexandria to stealing food and booze, he's constantly treading a thin line of morality. But, in time, life has taught him a couple of hard lessons and - contrary to his comic book version - Spencer seems to have learned a few. He lost his family and his overall importance in Alexandria, then he cooked for - and did a few other things with - Rosita, and it would seem he's starting to get his head together.
Based on the comics plot, we can only hope so. Spencer's comic book version is spiteful and revengeful, and eventually betrays Rick in the most cowardly of ways. Honestly, I really can't see the same plot unfolding on the show - considering where Spencer now stands - but seeing him questioning Rick's decision not to make a deal with Negan gives me reason to worry. Fingers crossed for Rosita to survive Negan and teach Spencer a lesson or two on ethics but, should she fall to Lucille, Spencer would have reason enough to go off the tracks.
There were (thankfully) many comic book Easter eggs in the trailer - but I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I did writing it. The Comic Con trailer surely helped me get my mind back to The Walking Dead universe I'd pretty much abandoned after the finale. And, if the trailer is any indication, it would seem Mr. Kirkman and Mr. Gimple weren't joking when they they promised a huge pay off in the Season 7 premiere!
Did you pick up any other comic book moments in the trailer? Let me know what I missed in the comments below!