WARNING! WALKING DEAD SPOILERS!
There, now that I got the spoiler warning out of the way, I can write about the season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead. After months and months of waiting, we finally know who Negan killed: Abraham and Glenn. The Glenn kill was lifted nearly panel by panel from the comic, including the scene where his eyeball pops out of his head and Negan makes fun of it. The Abe kill is different. In the comics, he dies at the hands of Dwight, before Negan shows up. Abe’s death is essentially the introduction to the Saviors. For me, his comic death was more meaningful because it occurs out of nowhere and it occurs as he is having a heartfelt talk with Eugene, after their friendship was on the rocks. His death also comes at at time when the group of survivors found a safe space and started to rebuild again after the fall of the prison.
The season premiere tonight left me uneasy. Even after the brutal death of Glenn in issue 100, which was stretched over several panels, thus making it quite graphic for the reader, there was STILL some sense of hope. Rick Grimes threatens retaliation against Negan, so after losing such a major character, readers have faith that Glenn’s death will be avenged. That wasn’t the case at all during the season 7 premiere. The episode centered around the breaking of Rick Grimes, starting with the symbolic gesture of kneeling in gravel as the group is lined up and Abe and Glenned are Lucilled, to Negan telling Rick he wants him to cut Carl’s hand off with an ax. At that moment, on his knees, Rick begs and pleads with Negan. Carl’s hand is spared, thankfully, but not before Rick repeats Negan’s line that he essentially owns the group now.
None of that happens in the comic. The Walking Dead, both the show and comics, have always been so popular because they focused on those rays of hope in a zombie apocalypse, how communities rebuild when everything collapses. In a prison they turned into a home, the group was able to garden and begin life anew. After the prison falls, they find a safe zone, a gated community where they come together with a broad group of survivors. For the first time, however, there was no hope offered at the end of tonight’s episode. The TV adaptation of Negan lacks the absurdity and comedic aspect he has in the comics, which provides some levity to the horror he inflicts upon the group. When he killed Abe in tonight’s episode, the blood splattered on Rick’s cheek. Negan then points the blood-drenched Lucille at Abe’s ex-lover, Rosita. And in the final scene, it is unclear how the group is going to pull together. Rick is utterly shattered, no longer a man with a plan.
Perhaps it’s important to note that Maggie, pregnant with Glenn’s kid, is the one who first rises to her knees. In the comics, following Glenn’s death, she has a lot of character development and becomes the leader of the Hilltop Community. Maybe she, in her grief, will provide the hope the show desperately needs after a brutally graphic season premiere. The Walking Dead has always focused on humanity, even in the bleakest of the circumstances, so if the show snuffs that out during the Saviors arc, I will keep reading the comics, but tune out the TV adaption.