[SPOILERS for The Walking Dead season 6 ahead.]
There are a lot of characters on the chopping block for The Walking Dead’s season 7 premiere, and at least one will meet his or her end in the first episode of the new season, courtesy of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan)’s trusty baseball bat. The first few pictures from season 7’s opener have teased a return to the exact moment we last left our heroes, kneeling at the mercy of the leader of the so-called Saviors. The episode’s director (and series producer) Greg Nicotero has promised, unequivocally, that whoever was at the receiving end of his Lucille swing will die. (Whether s/he will reanimate, walker-style is still unknown, however.)
One character whose life is not yet on the line right now, that we know of, is Morgan (Lennie James), who appeared to have made contact with a couple of armored members of The Kingdom at the tail end of season 6. In the comics, The Kingdom is a community of survivors who are led up by a character named King Ezekiel and reside in an abandoned high school nearby.
The first picture of Morgan in season 7, which has debuted at EW, neither confirms nor denies the theory that he’ll align with this ironclad community; but given his expression and firm grip on that stick, he’s obviously apprehensive about whoever (or whatever) he’s looking at in the shot. If it is Ezekiel and his Kingdom who’ve earned his glare there, it looks like Morgan’s taken up his pal Rick (Andrew Lincoln)’s sense of trepidation about newbies coming into the fold. Hopefully, though, they’ll prove to be invaluable allies in the inevitable war with the Saviors.
Speaking of which, the battle (emphasis on bat) that’s been waged by Negan striking whoever has already been seen by some of the show’s other new episode directors. According to Nicotero, speaking in an interview with Comic Book, their reactions were intense.
“Some of the incoming directors, when they come in, they read all the scripts. As the cuts are available, we want them to see the show because we want them to get a flavor for what we’re doing visually. A couple of people have seen it and then they stand next to me for about 24 hours, going ‘F--k!’ And I’m like, ‘What?’”
Nicotero also said that some of those who’ve gotten to bear witness to the brutality of the first episode have also shed a few tears over the devastation. “It’s pretty amazing, I’ll tell ya. People cry which makes me happy and sad at the exact same time,” he said.
The first trailer for The Walking Dead season 7 will debut at the show’s Comic-Con panel on Friday, July 22nd in Hall H, and the show’s cast and executives will be on-hand to discuss the new teaser and what’s to come. However, Nicotero does caution that the contents of the panel will be “tricky” for all involved due to the secrecy which has surrounded one character’s fate this entire off-season.
The Walking Dead season 7 premieres on AMC on Sunday, October 9th, 2016.
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