NOTE: The following posts contains SPOILERS for The Walking Dead season 7 premiere.
The Walking Dead returned to New York Comic-Con with a star-studded panel - that concluded with a sneak peek at the season 7 premiere. Initially, it was implied in the panel the footage would be exclusive to attendees but, like many Comic-Con videos these days, AMC released the clip online moments after their panel concluded. While fans who waited in line all day to see the footage might be disappointed that the video they saw was quickly fired-onto the Internet, at least they were the first to see it (unlike today's Power Rangers panel which featured the official premiere of the film's trailer - which had leaked, and then been officially released, online hours earlier).
The footage itself doesn't reveal the fate of which person in Rick's crew will meet their demise at the business end of Negan's bat but the video will set off another round of speculation (and detailed examinations of scene audio) regarding who will be killed-off - as well as spark speculation that another key aspect of The Walking Dead comic book may actually be adapted for the show in season 7.
For those who cannot watch the clip at the top of the page, here's our breakdown of the footage from the panel - before AMC released the clip officially:
The scene that was shown picks-up in the moments immediately after Negan mercilessly beats one of The Walking Dead cast-members to death with his beloved bat Lucille. In the footage, Rick is still on his knees, in shock, trying to process what has just happened - and how he might have been able to prevent it. As the sniffles and sobs of his crew are heard around him, Rick speaks-up to Negan stating: "I'm going to kill you." Negan is amused by Rick's tenacity and asks Rick to repeat himself. "I'm going to kill you. Not today. Not tomorrow. But I'm going to kill you."
Negan's reply: "Jesus."
Negan asks one his own men, Simon, what Rick had as a weapon - finding out that Rick was armed with a small axe, a hatchet. Negan, acknowledging Simon, speaks about the importance of having a right hand man - and asks Rick which of his crew is his right hand man, "Maybe it's one of these fine folks that's still breathing," then showing Rick the blood-soaked bat: "Or did I...?"
Before Rick can reply, Negan requests the axe from Simon, slips it into his own belt, grabs Rick, and drags him kicking into a nearby camper trailer. Negan playfully suggests he might kill Rick and then turn Rick's friends inside out - before closing the camper door.
Comic book and TV fans will both have to wait until the show returns on October 23rd to find out who died - since the teaser is carefully plucked out of the season 7 premiere without any concrete indication of who lost Negan's lethal game of "eeny meeny miny mo."
That said, the video also toys with longtime comic readers who will have, no doubt, cringed as Negan requested Rick's axe, discussed the importance of having a "right hand" (man), only to disappear with Rick and the hatchet inside a nearby camping trailer - since, in the books, The Governor (albeit not Negan) is responsible for chopping-off Rick's right hand. It is certainly possible the scene is intentionally coy and suggestive - to toy with the expectations of established fans but it's also possible the show intends to adapt that aspect of Rick's journey in the AMC series - leaving Rick both physically and psychologically scarred from his run-in with Negan.
Still, while that would certainly be shocking (especially in an episode with an already hyped-up death), the move would leave the series with some logistical hurdles to clear longterm - if Rick (and star Andrew Lincoln) is to continue as lead on the show. The series could work around one of its main fighters having to battle and shoot guns without a hand, as he did in the comics, but it might also be the kind of story beat that AMC's showrunners feel is better suited to print and not their action-packed TV show. Then again, they didn't shy away from adding a tiger to the series.
Either way, fans won't have to wait too much longer for answers. The season 7 premier arrives on October 23rd!
The Walking Dead season 7 premieres Sunday, October 23 @9pm on AMC.