The Walking Dead wrapped up its sixth season last spring with perhaps the purest cliffhanger imaginable. New villain Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), after a long monologue, swung his barbed-wire-covered baseball bat (known as Lucille) at one of the series’ established heroes, killing them. Which hero was it? We’ll find out in season 7.
That's not the only thing to look forward to when the series returns, however. Now that Rick and his friends are finally settled in Alexandria, The Walking Dead will continue to focus on the various tribes that have formed in the apocalypse, including Negan's group, the Hilltop community, and the Kingdom - a new faction led by a man called Ezekiel (Khary Payton).
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Andrew Lincoln, who plays Rick on the show, states that things are going to get a lot darker in Season 7 of the series. He also hints that the season’s storyline may follow one in the comic books in which different tribes of survivors in different geographical areas join forces.
“We are opening up in a way that we’ve not done before. And it truly is very brave, and is something that I looked forward to in the book. I’ve always thought this is really when it started to get really interesting. Because it’s like, how are these different communities reinventing themselves? And what kind of society have they built? It’s really, really cool. It feels deeper. It’s darker.”
Of course, The Walking Dead has always been pretty dark - it is, after all, a show about a group of people trying to survive after a zombie apocalypse, in which regular characters die very frequently, including fan favorites and sometimes even children. And obviously, while we don’t know who exactly is going to die in the first moments of the first episodes, we do know that the death of a major character is going to happen, and it’s likely going to encompass a major part of the plot for at least the first part of the coming season.
But Lincoln’s comments also portend that perhaps the series might be doing something truly different. The series, after all, has a tendency to repeat itself - while antagonists change, and the structure often alternates between the characters being all together or separated, at the end of the day they’re always fighting zombies, and they’re only safe until they’re not. Perhaps Lincoln is right, and The Walking Dead’s creative team can find a new, unique way to tell its stories.