[This post contains SPOILERS for The Walking Dead season 7 premiere.]
If the opening episode of The Walking Dead season 7 can be described in one word, "intense" is perhaps the most fitting. Although the decision to leave the identity of Negan's victim on a cliffhanger in the season 6 finale attracted plenty of controversy, 'The Day Will Come When You Won't Be' rewarded fans' patience with a brutal episode of television.
As was previously hinted by executive producer Greg Nicotero, more than one significant death occurred in the premiere. Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) was the leather-clad madman's initial victim but after Daryl angrily lashed out, Negan decided another of Rick's group needed to die and swiftly introduced Lucille to the head of poor Glenn Rhee, leaving his pregnant wife Maggie distraught and the rest of the gang in a state of shock.
Although Glenn nearly bit the dust back in season 6, many fans weren't convinced and rightly predicted the character's survival. This time, however, Glenn's death was made reasonably obvious and actor Steven Yeun, who has been part of The Walking Dead since the beginning, had a word to say to the show's fan base. Speaking from on-set, Yeun said:
“To everyone who has watched us, to everyone who has supported us. To everyone who had faith in what we were building and creating this entire time, thank you so much, thank you for driving us, thank you for letting us continue on. Thank you for pushing us to make better stories...You gave me one of the greatest experiences of my entire life so, sincerely – sincerely — to every single fan who tuned in and watched the show, thank you, so much.”
Yeun's Glenn was a fan-favorite during his time on the AMC show and his heartfelt words act as a fitting farewell to a character who played a large part in The Walking Dead's success. The actor brought the comic book Glenn to life in a way that was both authentic to the source material but that also added new layers to the character. His presence on-screen will certainly be missed.
Despite Glenn's fan-favorite status, the decision to kill him off was arguably the best available option in terms of setting Negan up as a huge threat. Negan is a far more visceral, remorseless entity that previous big baddie The Governor (David Morrissey) and his introduction to the story needed to be both shocking and emotional. With all due respect to Abraham, the only way for Negan's evil nature to be properly conveyed to the audience was for him to murder a much-loved main character who had been with the show since the beginning.
Of course, with the long wait for the reveal, some fans may feel it's too late for The Walking Dead to make amends. And after the non-stop thrills of the premiere, next week's offering looks set to take the pace down, catching up with Carol and Morgan, which may disappoint some viewers hoping to focus on the aftermath of Negan's actions.
The Walking Dead continues next Sunday with 'The Well' @9pm on AMC
Source: AMC (via CBR)