“The Walking Dead” makes ultra-violent return

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“The Walking Dead”  returns for its seventh season after season six ended on one of the biggest cliffhangers in the shows history. “The Walking Dead,” based on the comic of the same name, airs on AMC. The season premiere, “The Day will Come When You Won’t Be,” aired Oct. 23 and the second episode, “The Well,” aired Sunday. Minor spoilers below. 

The first episode was written by showrunner Scott M. Gimple. It takes place right after the season six finale where the new big bad, Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), killed one of the main characters by bashing their skull in with a baseball bat, based on a infamous moment in the hundredth issue of the comic. But the episode doesn’t reveal their identity right away. In fact it’s a full twenty minutes until they show who was killed. 

At one point Rick flashes back to all the possible victims with no other reason than to tease the audience. 

The entire episode centers around the aftermath with Negan taunting Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and the other survivors. In fact the entire episode is just Negan taunting Rick. Even after the reveal. 

I understand what the show was going for. A major theme in season six for Rick was over-confidence. 

After living in a nightmare for so long, Rick thought he had seen it all. He’d survived the Governor, beat the cannibals and killed countless walkers. So, when Rick heard about a group taking half of people’s stuff, he thought he could handle it without any difficulty. “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be” serves as a wake up call for Rick. 

Negan metaphorically drags Rick through the mud to show just how much Rick had screwed up. The problem is the show gets this point across after 10 minutes and the entire episode is nothing but this. It doesn’t help the show is so smug about it.

This is by far the most violent episode of “The Walking Dead” and that’s saying something on a show about corpses eating people. The scene where Negan kills the person is incredibly graphic. A little too graphic. Somebody should have told the producers that less is more. 

The show wants the viewers to thinkthis moment is brutal and shocking. It’s not. It’s more annoying than anything. Killing someone with a baseball bat stopped being shocking when the last episode ended by saying they were going to kill someone with a baseball bat. 

Morgan does a good job with Negan, playing him with psychotic glee, but even he can carry the material so far. 

The second episode, “The Well” is much better. While it serves as a breather episode to the premiere, it’s true strengths are it remembers story, character growth and has more than two locations. 

“The Well” follows Carol (Melissa McBride) and Morgan (Lennie James) as they find themselves in The Kingdom lead by King Ezekiel (Khary Patyon). Ezekiel puts on the act of a medieval king to help his people cope with life among the undead. It was a great character study while setting the stage for the rest of the season.