The Walking Dead season 7 episode 1 Review: Stoic, bold and bleak as hell

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“Welcome to a brand new beginning, you sorry shits” – the words of Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s baseball bat-swinging villain, Negan, and not producers of AMC series The Walking Dead – although they may as well be.

After an agonising cliffhanger teased a brutal death at the hands of Dean Morgan’s new addition followed by an endless seven-month wait, The Walking Dead‘s season 7 premiere episode has lived up to the frenzied expectation by doing what this well-crafted series does best; showcasing a barrage of trauma.

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The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 1 Review: Blood, Regret and Tears

‘The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be’ arrives on a tidal wave of anticipation with fans anxious to find out which character has been bludgeoned to death. The fervent discussion has not been dissimilar to the desperation shown by Game of Thrones fans over the fate of Jon Snow. Only, that question’s answer was obvious – this one wasn’t; and the unexpected twist here? Showrunner Scott M. Gimple has subverted expectation by dispatching of, not one, but two main characters.

Don’t miss – The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 1 Live Stream

The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 1 Review

Executive producer and director Greg Nicotero promised fans we’d discover the victim’s identity early into the episode, and after a short encounter between Negan and Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), we see the moment played out in sickening splashes through the tear-drenched recollections of our shell-shocked protagonist. With so much hype clouding this cataclysmic event, producers clearly didn’t want to hear complaints that they’d shied away; such claims would be unjust. So when Negan rains Lucille down upon poor Abraham’s skull, we see it. “Suck my nuts,” the mustachioed soldier, played by Michael Cudlitz, manages before his head is no more.  Click below to Watch Episode 1

The episode’s biggest assault on your nerves arrives in an extended sequence which sees the leather jacket-clad antagonist give Rick three seconds to amputate his son’s arm. It’s a moment where Andrew Lincoln excels, his character coming full circle: between his snot-nosed splutters of mercy and Carl’s resigned plea (“Dad, just do it), this scene – when bookended with the first time we see Rick, unaware of the tribulations this ‘new world order’ will bring – causes your bones to cool several degrees.

If viewers knew this was Rick’s destination, would they have watched the show? It would have saved them a bucketload of upset, that’s for sure. But The Walking Dead has returned as one of the most assured shows on television. While it may be difficult to muster excitement for something this sobering, Gimple has guaranteed that – after six seasons and a boldly stoic opener to season 7 -placing your trust in his hands is one easy task. As the credits roll, your prevalent sense may be of despair, but it most certainly won’t be of The Walking Dead‘s quality.

The Walking Dead airs in the UK on FOX at 9pm

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