The ends did not justify the means.
Well, The Walking Dead is back and so are all of my feelings of annoyance and anger with everything that culminated in the season six finale last April. As someone who has followed the comics for quite some time, Negan’s introduction to the series is one of the single most important events, as well as my favorite scene, in the entire series and I can’t get over the fact that it was eviscerated.
This all goes back to the Glenn dumpster fiasco in the beginning of season six. Staging a cheap trick with a major character to try and whore out the audience for some views was as infuriating as it was stupid. If you’re going to do something ridiculous like that, why would you ever do it with a character that you were actually going to kill (presumably) at the end of the season?
Then we get to the Dwight debacle. By introducing Dwight before a time skip in the first half of season six, it makes his appearance in the second half of season six jarring. Somehow, this guy who was petrified of the Saviors and trying to escape them was now one of Negan’s right hand men and killing in cold blood after a couple months. Then for some reason, they removed all of the importance of his surprise killing of Abraham by replacing him with Denise, making the whole exchange useless. Instead of killing an established character, they took a cop out and killed a relatively meaningless side character. Again, if you were planning on killing Abraham anyway then why not just stick with his comic death and recreate the feeling that nobody is safe?
All of this mess built up to a quick Daryl fake out in the penultimate episode of season six and one of the worst cliffhangers in the history of television in the finale. I still cannot fathom that the decision to roll with that cliffhanger was not only made in the first place but overly defended by production over the last six months. People (myself included) have bitched about it for months so I’m not going to continue to beat that dead horse but it brings me to my point: the journey ruined the season seven premiere for me.
By the time the season seven premiere rolled around last night, I was so aggravated with the cliffhanger that I legitimately wasn’t even looking forward to watching the episode (which was decent, by itself). Then we had to stall 20 minutes to get to the point, we got a bunch of forced in flashbacks in an effort to recreate the tension and then after the deaths happened, it was watered down by showing it happen to all the other characters. Not to mention the weird future-dream sequence at the end of the episode that was way out of place. The cliffhanger just made it so damn hard for me to go into this episode with any level of objectivity, I was going to hate it no matter what.
The kills themselves? Everything I wanted. Glenn’s death was panel for panel from the comics, up to and including his eye popping out of his skull. Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Negan is not going to be comic Negan but he’s going to be just fine in the role and he’s going to be a carrying force for the show going forward. For people who haven’t read the comics, they’ll hate Negan just as much as those of us who read the comics did and by the end of it, we’ll all love Negan the same.
I just wish we could have got to the point in a better way.