“The Walking Dead” Season 7 premiere was brutal. But we’ll get through this together. Let’s start, shall we?
After several long and painful months of wondering who was at the end of Negan’s bat, it is finally time for the answer to not be revealed. Apparently eight months wasn’t long enough, so we need to wait another twenty minutes or so.
Instead, we open right where we left off, with the group on their knees, surrounded by Negan’s men. Rick tells Negan, “I’m going to kill you. Not today. Not tomorrow. But I’m going to kill you.”
Negan asks one of his men, Simon, what Rick had with him. Simon says it was a hatchet. Then Negan tells Rick, “Simon’s my right hand man. It’s important to have one.” Then he wonders if he just killed Rick’s right hand man. He takes Rick’s hatchet and drags him into the RV. He says he might bring Rick back, might not, and if he has any problems, maybe they’ll just turn the others inside out.
Negan taunts Rick by telling him to grab the axe and drive it through his head. When Rick tries, Negan pulls a gun, hits Rick in the head and takes the axe away. He comments that dawn is breaking and it’s a brand new day. “I want you to think about what happened. What could have happened. And what could still happen.”
Rick flashes through the lives of everyone left behind as the showrunners continue to toy with our emotions by not telling us who died. Negan stops the RV and tells Rick that everything and everyone is his. He throws Rick’s axe outside and then tells Rick to go get it. They’re in the middle of a herd of walkers. He shoves Rick outside and closes the door.
Because Rick is the baddest character ever on television, he fights off the walkers without any weapons and manages to climb on top of the RV. But…now what?
It turns out Negan has driven him back to the spot with the giant burning log pile, so it’s very smoky. Also, the guy that Negan’s men hung from the bridge is still hanging and is now a walker. Rick sees him and just collapses, still flashing through his friends. Talking through the roof of the RV, Negan says, “I bet you thought you were all gonna grow old together, sitting around the table on Sunday dinner in the happily ever after. Doesn’t work like that, Rick. Not anymore. Think about what happened.”
And now Rick thinks about what happened. Back to Negan’s diabolical game of Eenie Meenie Miney Mo. Who’s it going to be?
Negan stops at Abraham, who doesn’t even blink. Sasha cries. Rosita sobs. Negan hits Abraham hard on the head. Abraham falls forward, then gets back up. Negan says, “Taking it like a champ!” Ever the defiant one, Abraham looks at him and says, “Suck my nuts.” (Because they think we forgot he didn’t say anything during this moment in the Season 6 finale…)
I think, under different circumstances, Negan might have wanted to be friends with him. Instead, he bashes Abraham’s head in until there is nothing left.
He splashes blood on Rick, and makes jokes about Lucille being his “Dirty Girl” and then shows the bloody bat to Rosita, who is in shock. Then Negan says, “Oh, damn. Were you together?” Then he insists there was a reason for this and tells them all to take a look.
Daryl can’t handle it anymore and jumps up and punches Negan. (Does this mean Daryl was never actually shot last season?) Two of Negan’s guys grab Daryl and pull him to the ground. Negan says that is a no-no. Dwight comes out with the crossbow and offers to kill Daryl. Negan says, “No, you don’t kill them. Not until you try a little.” He sends Daryl back to the line and explains that’s not how it works. “I already told you people first one’s free. I will shut that shit down. No exceptions.”
And so, to prove he means business, he turns the bat on Glenn. Maggie screams. Negan teases Glenn. “I just popped your skull so hard your eyeball just popped out. And it is gross as shit.” Glenn turns and says, “Maggie, I’ll find you.” Then Negan turns to the rest of the group and says he can see this is hard on them. And finishes off Glenn.
Back to present time, Rick is still on top of the RV and Negan is yelling at him to “Get me my axe.” Then he shoots at Rick through the roof of the RV and Rick jumps off, onto the hanging walker. The guy’s neck stretches, walkers are trying to grab Rick’s feet, and suddenly Negan shoots at them from the RV, helping Rick out.
He says, “Think about what could still happen,” and so Rick imagines everyone else being killed. Which is obviously not happening, although there are some very confused people on Twitter who thought it did.
Rick gets the axe and gets back to the RV, but the door is locked. He fights off more walkers and finally Negan opens the door and lets him in. “Atta boy!” he says and Rick just looks at him like he can’t wait to chop off his head.
Negan starts up the RV and drives away, eventually stopping and saying they’re here. Before he lets Rick go, he looks though the cupboards and drawers, looking for something. He finally finds a bottle of rubbing alcohol and a towel. Fans of the comic are beside themselves right now as Negan cleans walker blood off Rick’s hatchet. Because that hatchet is getting used for something bad, right?
But Negan doesn’t use it on Rick. Instead, he hands it back to him and says, “I think you’re gonna need it.”
Rick takes the hatchet back.
They get out of the RV and they’re right back where they started. Negan says, “Any idea what that little trip was about?” And the entire viewing audience is saying, “No, please explain,” because it felt like a totally pointless field trip that accomplished nothing.
Negan, however, explains that he was trying to make Rick understand what’s really going on. He says, “All right, what you do next will decide if your crap day becomes everyone’s last crap day, or just another crap day.” He has his goons put guns to everyone’s heads. “Level with their noses so if you have to fire, it’ll be a real mess.” He’s a charmer, this one.
Negan calls Carl forward. Carl gets up and walks over to where Rick is kneeling. Negan asks if he’s left-handed and when Carl says no, Negan says good. He wraps a belt around Carl’s arm and says it’s supposed to hurt. Then makes Carl lie down on the ground next to Rick. He asks Simon for a pen. Simon tosses him a Crayola marker and Negan draws a line on Carl’s arm. Rick finally realizes what’s happening and begs Negan, “Please don’t.”
Negan says, “Rick, I want you to take that axe and cut your son’s left arm off.”
He tells Rick that if he doesn’t do it, he’s going to kill everyone and then go and burn down Alexandria, but he’ll keep Rick alive for a few years. Michonne begs Negan to stop, saying that they understand what he expects. Negan says she understands, but he doesn’t think Rick does.
He keeps needling Rick, finally starting to count down from three. Rick begs him. Hearing Rick beg is almost worse than watching Glenn die. Twice.
Carl says, “Dad, just do it.”
Rick raises the axe. Negan stops him. “You answer to me. You provide for me. You belong to me.”
When Rick agrees, Negan says, “THAT is the look I wanted to see.” Rick is completely broken.
Negan tells Dwight to load up Daryl. He explains that they’re keeping Daryl and that if Rick tries anything they’re going to cut pieces off of Daryl and put them on Rick’s doorstep. “Or, better yet, I’ll bring him to you and have you do it for me.”
Negan and his people leave a truck for Rick. He says they’ll be back for their first offering in one week. And then they go.
Rick and Friends sit silently. Finally, Maggie gets to her feet. How Maggie is still conscious is anyone’s guess. But she stands up and Rick tells her to sit. She says Rick needs to take everyone back to Alexandria and she will go to Hill Top by herself. Michonne says they’re not letting her go, but she says they have to. Then Sasha stands up and says she’s taking Maggie.
Maggie doesn’t fight anymore.
But she insists on taking Glenn. And Sasha tells Rosita that she’s taking Abraham. The two have a little moment and the awkwardness between them is gone.
Maggie tries to pick up Glenn, but Aaron says, “We need to help you.” And Rick says, “Please let us. He’s our family too.”
As they load the bodies into the truck, Negan’s words replay and it shows the group sitting at dinner, all clean and dressed. Glenn and Abraham are together at the end of the table.
In real time, Rick picks up the hatchet, and gets back into the RV. A walker emerges from the woods, but Rick doesn’t do anything about it. He just climbs behind the wheel, starts the engine, and drives away.