The Walking Dead has finally returned after months of waiting! Was the wait worth it, or is this batch of episodes another piece of zombie chow? Let’s find out. Oh, and there’s no restraint on spoilers here, so watch these episodes now before reading on.
7 01: The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be
There are many reasons that people love The Walking Dead. Some of them are the great effects and gore, but the main reason is the characters. One great example of this was shown in the season premiere, which in my opinion is one of the best episodes in the entire series. It breaks new ground, giving viewers the feeling that anyone could die at any moment. Losing Abraham and Glenn were the saddest deaths the show has ever delivered, as well as one the most gory.
Meeting Negan and seeing what he can do is another reason to love this episode. It showed viewers that this villain was one who’s a lot more of a threat than that of Gareth or The Governor. Jeffery Dean Morgan does an amazing job acting in this episode, giving Negan a personality that will go down in The Walking Dead history as iconic and influential.
The one flaw that the episode suffers from is an issue that almost every episode has, and that being that walkers are seemingly thrown into every episode for no real reason. In this episode in particular, Negan takes Rick into an RV and they drive along into a mini-horde of walkers. Negan takes an axe, and throws it outside into the walker filled pit, ordering Rick to “go get my axe”. He later says he did it to prove that Rick would work for him, but then why have that be his test? Why wouldn’t he just do what he does later and have Rick almost cut Carl’s arm off? Later in the episode, after the corpses of Abraham and Glenn are picked up, there’s a walker that just comes out of nowhere and starts eating whatever guts he can grab. Did that seem pointless to anyone else? Maybe since the group left instead of killing the walker, it’s supposed to represent that they don’t care about their own survival as much as they do about mourning the deaths that occurred, but other then that, I don’t see any meaning to it.
Overall, this was an amazing episode that was filled with just the right amount of everything it needed to be great. I would place it as the fourth best episode in The Walking Dead, and it’s definitely the best episode of the seventh season thus far.
7 02: The Well
In this episode, we find out what happened to Carol and Morgan. It turns out that they were brought to a large community known as The Kingdom, led by King Ezekiel. We also meet what is by far the most important character, Shiva the tiger, and it’s clear that this tiger is something to fear. We also learn about some of the townspeople, how it runs, and how The Saviors effect them. It’s an interesting episode for world-building and character development, as introducing The Kingdom into the show was one of the many long-awaited stories for fans of the comics and the television show.
Once again, the acting is pretty great here, especially from the main trio of characters we see, them being Morgan, Carol, and Ezekiel. Lennie James humanizes Morgan, playing a character who attempts to balance his peaceful nature with what is required to survive in the real world, and it’s great to watch. Melissa McBride steps up her acting game here as well, as Carol’s story is given an edge that makes it more understandable as it was last season. Carol leaving Alexandria at the end of season 6 seemed like a rushed decision that was only done to increase tension, but here it’s starting to make more sense. That is, until the end.
The end of this episode is a mystery to me. Carol wants to help The Kingdom because he believes they’re good people, but she also wants to leave because she doesn’t want to have to kill anyone. After discussing this with Ezekiel, they go to find a house and Carol cleans it up so she can live there, and I don’t understand it. I understand that she doesn’t want to kill, but neither did Morgan and he did it to save Carol. Don’t forget, by the way, that last season, they had completely different views on murder. Morgan wanted to keep the member of the Wolves he had captive alive because he thought he could change him to be a better man, but Carol wanted kill the Wolf because he can’t change and he’ll likely just kill again.
Either way, this is another great episode. The characters are compelling and interesting, the effects are great, the story is holding strong, and other then Carol’s story-line, nothing really harms the episode.
7 03: The Cell
We finally find out what happened to Daryl in this episode and it is harsh. This is season 7’s obligatory Daryl-filled episode, and while this isn’t as stellar as the previous two episodes were, this isn’t bad. This episode is pretty good, just not great. The first positive thing I have to say is that learning about The Saviors and their lifestyle was cool to see. I like seeing how content life is from an outside perspective, followed by seeing the corrupt side of things, where people are running away from the community only to be tracked down and killed.
Let’s talk about the major characters of the episode. First off, Dwight. Seeing his development, as well as his relationship with Daryl, is stellar, and gives context to a character who otherwise would be thrown in the background. His perspective on things is pivotal here, and his loyalty to The Saviors, even after everything that we learn about him and his wife and Negan, is some pretty good drama. Norman Reedus once again gives his all as Daryl, putting his heart and soul into every scene, and it’s clear that he is fully into his role. Speaking of Daryl, he proves to be a great character once again. His guilt over essentially causing Glenn’s death is so compelling that the anger fans might’ve felt when watching the iconic scene from the premiere into sympathy. You feel the character’s struggles and the weight of what he’s going through in every scene he’s in.
However, there is one major character here who really started to change for the worse in this episode, and that character is Negan. Unfortunately, he’s starting to become a bit annoying and the point of the character is starting to be lost. The reason I loved Negan in the season finale ‘Last Day On Earth’ and ‘The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be’ was because I loved the moxie he brought to the screen, his tone, his versatility, and the presence he brought. Which makes it a shame that a lot of it is replaced something that’s less of a villain and more of a bully. They even try to rehash the same iconic scene from the premiere, whistles and all, when Daryl tries to escape, and it just doesn’t work as well. It’s not that Jeffrey Dean Morgan is a bad actor, far from it, he’s great, but the material he’s given to work with is difficult to nail. He’s almost comical at this point.
Still, this is a good episode. In my mind, as long as Negan isn’t spending most of the next episode being more of a bully than a villain, it should be fine. I’ll stand by that this episode was good, mainly because Daryl and Dwight are compelling characters, but this big bad villain is starting to look a lot less big and bad.
7 04: Service
‘Service’ proves something about The Walking Dead that I never really noticed before. It’s such a glaring issue that I never noticed before. People have told me that this is a problem in the past, but I had taken it as a necessary evil at it’s worst and important for the story at best. However, this made it very clear to me that this is a problem. This problem is that there are so many filler episodes in this show. Past seasons have had this before and while it might be annoying at times, it wasn’t the most noticeable thing in my mind. This also wouldn’t be so bad in this episode in particular if it wasn’t for it being this season’s extended episode, which is about an hour and a half long.
Another huge flaw with the episode is Negan. For a fleeting moment, we believed that Negan would be the perfect villain. He was menacing, pure evil, yet so lovable at the same time. In ‘The Cell’, Negan started to drain my love for him, as he acted more like a schoolyard bully than the villain he loved him for being. Now, he’s really starting to annoy me. This is so much of a problem, and I think the way it needs to be solved is by not showing much of him for a while. I know it can’t be fixed now, but I hope this is how the rest of the half season plays out.
On the positive side, there are intriguing parts to it, such as the connection between Carl and Negan slowly appear, or Michonne’s want to leave and her story in regards to that. These things are interesting, and seeing more of them would be great. I love how the group fakes Maggie’s death, and theories popping up about Rick and Daryl sending morse code to each other have a lot to offer.
Overall, this episode wasn’t the worst episode of the series, but saying it was anywhere near the best would be a lie. There’s a lot of interesting developments between our main characters, and that’s great as always, but Negan takes a complete 180 in terms of likability, and it’s sad. This villain that was supposed to blow everyone way turns out to be more of a light breeze at the most. There needs to be some huge improvements with this character before he gets too annoying, or otherwise, the only dead thing in The Walking Dead might be its viewer-base.
Season 7 So Far
So far, I don’t think that The Walking Dead is losing steam like some critics say, far from it. I think that the zombie apocalypse is trying to find it’s place now that the tone of the show is trying to shift. It’s hard to deny that the last two seasons have had some of the shows highest highs to date, likely because the “survival horror” aspect of the show had finally shined through. Now, the show is trying to evolve, as it transitions from a show about surviving in a zombie-filled world to a new show entirely. What is this show? Is it good? We can’t answer these questions just yet, but give it a chance before you switch back to CW for their superhero shows or HBO for Game of Thrones. You might be surprised at what you find.