Warning: There are spoilers ahead for “The Walking Dead” season seven.
The INSIDER Summary:
• In a departure from the comics, “The Walking Dead” killed off not one, but two fan favourites in an iconic scene from the series.
• Episode director Greg Nicotero explains the decision behind the two deaths.
• The deaths were about breaking Rick’s character emotionally.
“The Walking Dead” returned Sunday night with a big season seven premiere killing off not one big character, but two fan favourites. Just when fans thought a majority of the characters were safe after Abraham’s death, Negan went and took the bat subsequently to Glenn.
Why did the show kill off two characters instead of one?
Was it just to change things up from the comics and to deliver something new for fans of the series who may be expecting Glenn’s death? That was part of it, but episode director and executive director Greg Nicotero said there was more to it than that.
“Part of the whole show is we really needed to drive Rick and Negan’s story throughout the season and we felt that one death would do the trick, but the second death — Glenn’s death — really, really propelled us into a very different direction,” Nicotero said Monday during a conference call for the show. “It’s really about Negan laying down the law and saying, ‘Listen guys, the bottom line is, if you listen to me, you’ll be fine. But if you step out of line, that’s not gonna fly.'”
While Abraham’s death in itself was difficult and will have repercussions throughout the season, Glenn’s added death will really push forward some other character storylines we’ll see play out.
“Glenn’s death has a lot to do with Rick’s future story, Maggie’s future story, and certainly Daryl’s future story because Daryl is the one who launched himself at Negan,” said Nicotero. “It just made for a more rich, overall story arc for a lot of these other characters.”
For those who may have been upset that we had to wait until about 20 minutes into the episode to find out who was taken to bat, Nicotero explained why it wasn’t at the start of the episode, taking into consideration that some may have felt it was dragged out.
“It certainly wasn’t intended that way,” said Nicotero. “If you really step back and look at the episode, what you realise is, the majority of this [is] from Rick’s point of view. So, picking up from moments after the death and then going into the beginning’s of Negan trying to break Rick.”
One of the big points of the episode was to really show and convince audiences that Rick — someone who has been leading a group for six seasons and has promised to protect his people — could be emotionally broken by someone.
“He [Rick] basically says, ‘I’m going to kill you,'” said Nicotero. “‘Not today, not tomorrow, but I’m going to kill you.’ Negan realises that what he has just done did not do the trick. So, the episode is really about Negan’s efforts — he sees that tremendous value in Rick and his people — so he’s going to go to the extra effort.”
“It takes us about 10 or 12 minutes into the episode to get to the point where Rick is feeling lost and he’s starting to feel defeated and he’s on top of the RV and everything starts flashing back to him,” he continued.
We see Rick start having flashbacks and memories of what had just happened. We also see him imagining what could happen to the remaining survivors — his son included — if he takes a wrong step in this moment during his RV journey with Negan.
“The episode is 100% designed for you to go on this journey with Rick and start thinking, as he did, about what happened and when he starts reliving it, it’s the beginning of him being broken,” said Nicotero. “By the end of the episode, that’s where he ends up.”
“When Rick starts imagining everybody else — he sees Rosita, and he sees Carl, and he sees Daryl, and he sees everybody else — that’s his traumatized way of balancing what to do next,” Nicotero added. “Everything that he does is based on the fact that someone else could die and that he can’t let that happen.”
The decision to kill off Glenn and Abraham wasn’t one that was made over night either.
On Sunday’s aftershow “The Talking Dead” both creator Robert Kirkman and showrunner Scott Gimple explained that they have been working out this episode and who Negan would kill for about the past two years. On a separate conference call Monday afternoon with actor Michael Cudlitz, who plays Abraham, the actor told us he knew his character’s fate for well over a year.
Whether or not you were a bit upset with how the season seven premiere unfolded, this is something that has been in the works for a long time.
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