Much controversy has sparked since the season six finale, with many fans being outraged over the cliffhanger. Many will argue over whether or not this was an appropriate choice to make, but undeniably, the season premiere brings one important character that changes the show’s atmosphere: Negan. Following his personality from the comics, Negan’s ruthless behavior is the main highlight of this season. His intimidating demeanor, violence, cruelty, and charisma makes him the embodiment of the villainous character that the show wants us to perceive him as.
The season 7 premiere is so far the most enthralling episode of the season. This is mainly due to the introduction and exploration into Negan’s character, which brings so much substance into the episode. The brutal bludgeoning of Negan’s victims and Negan’s treatment of Rick are the most significant aspects of this episode. To say the least, the occurrence of these deaths were expected, but the manner in which these events occurred was the most shocking aspect. The break in Rick’s character was another highlight as it invoked a feeling of desperation and hopelessness into the audience, who had not seen Rick at such a low point for several seasons. It also solidified the idea that Rick has lost control of group with Negan now being in charge. On side note, Andrew Lincoln did a phenomenal job in his acting during this episode (there was a scene where snot flung out of his nose as he cried).
The next several episodes are simply not as invigorating as the premiere, although this trend has been observed for the past several seasons. This can attributed to the general lack of interesting events which transpire through the duration of these episodes. Much of these episodes seem to serve as filler and character development, which is not bad in itself. Though in this case, it is also beginning to feel a bit overly drawn out. For instance, the main plot of the fourth episode (which was 90 minute special) centers around Negan’s group coming to Rick’s camp, taking resources, and threatening people. Even though this encounter was primarily meant to show Negan’s power over Rick, this was already established by the first episode. This is not to say that these episodes are not completely devoid of entertainment since some of the most interesting moments are found here, such as Daryl’s torture and the introduction of Ezekiel.
It is not uncommon for this show to start off on a slow pace to build up to some sort of grand event, which has been an ongoing trend in these past several seasons. Though some feel as though this hinders the overall pace of the show, it is not enough to ruin the overall experience, which definitely applies to this season. Given that this has occurred in the past and that later episodes leading up to each season finale generally delivered, most fans will probably find their time invested into the show worth it.