When I started my blog, "Walking Dead" was well underway and with competitive posts on the subject being so massive, it was illogical for me to commence with my own ongoing analysis. That's not to say I haven't watched the show religiously. It's just that when it's come to posts, I've dealt exclusively with the collectible side of it.
In any event, "Walking Dead": Season 7 has prompted me to offer my two-cents worth, if only due to the immense anticipation of it, and boy, it sure flowed just as we expected (probably even worse), with unapologetic sadism and death. Of course, these elements have always been part of the series. However, this time the punch (in the case of "The Day Will Come When You Won't Be") was telegraphed well in advance. It stirred debate, speculation and controversy for months, even stealing focus from a companion saga.
By tradition, "Walking Dead" hits us with the element of surprise. Anyone can die at any given time. In this instance, we already knew that Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) would kill at least one of our favorites in a most brutal way, and so it became a process of elimination among fans in predicting who'd meet that nauseating fate.
Well, now we know. (In case you haven't watched the episode or heard the social-media buzz, I won't spoil it for you.) I will say this, it was hard to swallow. In fact, it was hard to swallow long before the moment struck: an agonizing, sickening set-up that cursed the many months leading up to it, none of which I embraced with much ease.
Is that to say I frown upon the gimmick? Gosh, not really. This particular flesh-eating zombie epic has never been politically correct, after all, let alone subtle. Its audience isn't the sissified sort in need of University of Florida counseling for Halloween or the sort to request clown costumes be removed from store shelves, so as not to offend those even more timid than themselves. We're a thick-skinned group, but still, the lead-in to this monstrous moment (and precisely how it would evolve) was prolonged and more contemptuous than any we've experienced. The aftermath wasn't much better.
I wonder if the same plot tactic will be repeated later down the line. One thing's for sure, Negan has redefined the show's atmosphere, but then the series was overdue for a new, merciless villain. (I can't tell you how much I've missed David Morrissey's Governor, but compared to Negan, ol' Phil was a veritable saint.) To see our surviving heroes (even if it's just one of them) get revenge on this bastard will now be the series' driving (and defining) force: something to look forward to and ultimately relish.