7:59pm PT by Josh Wigler
'Walking Dead': A Tribute to Negan's First Victim
[Warning: This story contains spoilers through the Walking Dead season seven premiere.]
As a wise man once said: "Son of a d—k!"
Sadly, that wise man no longer has a head with which to spout out such colorful pearls of wisdom. In its first episode of its seventh season, AMC's The Walking Dead made the tragic decision to throw the Bisquick out with the pancakes: Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz), the hardened warrior who became a staple on the show since debuting midway into season four, is no more, his brains smashed in by a maniac with a baseball bat named Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).
Abraham was one of the odds-on favorites to lose his life at Negan's hands, second in our estimation only to Glenn — and, well, we know how that one worked out, too. But in the spirit of giving the two losses their respective room to breathe, let's focus for now on Abraham, giving at least "two short and curlies" about a man who squeezed a lot of juice out of his two and a half seasons on AMC's The Walking Dead.
Here's a walk down memory lane, remembering Abraham's best moments on the show. (Click here to see how Abe died in the comics.)
The Splashy Entrance
There have been a lot of moments on the Walking Dead show that perfectly captured the essence of the comic book source material, but few things rival Abraham's introduction. From the bright orange handlebar mustache to his pitch-perfect partners Eugene (Josh McDermitt) and Rosita (Christian Serratos) stepping up beside him, Abraham's first appearance on The Walking Dead was like a Charlie Adlard splash page springing to life.
Man at Work
The Rick Grimes Gang can more than hold its own in most walker situations, but no one handled zombies with quite as much relish as Abraham. The man seemed genuinely at home whenever he got his hands on the undead — just another day at the office for a guy who loved his job. Something about that enthusiasm, disturbing as it is on so many levels, shined light through some otherwise bleak material.
Once Upon a Time
Before he became the most eager zombie killer on the planet, Abraham was at the end of his rope. During season five's "Self Help," we learn that his violent survival instincts drove his family away, and straight into the mouths of hungry zombies. He almost ended it there, if not for the arrival of a certain man with a plan to end the apocalypse once and for all.
Punch Eu in the Genes
Naturally, when Eugene reveals the truth about his "plan" — namely, that he doesn't really have one — Abraham responds by punching his mullet-wearing companion squarely in the face, knocking him out in a single punch. Here's that very moment, on a loop for a solid minute:
It's not just one of the show's best sight gags, nor is it well-earned due to Eugene's craven lie. It's also a testament to Abraham's brute strength and the power of his uncaged rage, irrepressible by almost any measure … except for a barbed-wire baseball bat, apparently. Sad trombone.
How Abraham Got His Groove Back
Eugene's mission was a lie, nearly sending Abe into a pit of despair forever. But his energy was restored over the course of meeting Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), the group's sharp-shooting loner. Abraham spent some of season five and much of season six cementing a romance with Sasha, making his feelings known in a tender moment that was somewhat tempered by Abraham wearing a ridiculous-looking admiral's uniform. Don't ask why — we still don't know.
Rumble in the Hilltop
Remember, no one likes a fight more than Abraham. And he got exactly that when Rick's group visited the Hilltop community for the first time, and got into a very violent altercation with some of the residents. Some were aghast. Others, like Rick, were cold. Then there was Abraham, laughing big, fully alive for the first time in a little while. Learning about Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Maggie's (Lauren Cohan) pregnancy certainly helped brighten his outlook on life, too.
Welcome to Stage Two
After more than a season on the outs with each other, Abraham and Eugene fully reconciled during a road trip to a bullet factory, ending in a fatal hostage situation against some Saviors. Eugene's ingenious decision to take a bite out of Dwight (Austin Amelio) not only helped our heroes live to see another day, but also earned Abraham's full respect. With Abraham's blessing, Eugene was officially from that day forward a "stage two badass," one of the mustached hero's final great acts.
It's not a moment owned by Abraham, at least not on the show. In the same episode where Eugene and Abraham battled Dwight and the Saviors, Dr. Denise (Merritt Wever) died, shot through the eye with an arrow. Although Abraham died not long after that moment, he should have died in Denise's stead, if the show was closely mirroring the comics. Here's a page from The Walking Dead #98, just to show you exactly how Abraham went out in the source material:
Pretty nasty, right? But a whole lot cleaner than having your brains bashed in by Lucille, at least.
Goodbye to Eu
During the off-season, several fans speculated that Abraham or Eugene would be on the receiving end of Negan's wrath. That's because the two old friends turned foes turned friends again were allowed a moment to say goodbye to each other in the season six finale, a moving scene featuring music from series composer Bear McCreary doing his best Michael Giacchino impersonation. As it turns out, it really was a final goodbye for these characters … and in many ways, it was our final goodbye to Abraham as well.
So goodbye, Abe. Whether you were punching out walkers or Eugene, talking about assorted forms of "nuts" and looking absolutely absurd in an admiral uniform, you always knew how to brighten the apocalypse with a well-placed one-liner. (It's a good thing Negan knows his way around a meaty monologue or two.) Bon voyage, as you take your place in Walking Dead history, your status cemented as one of the show's most brutal and disgusting kills yet.
Bookmark THR.com/WalkingDead for news, interviews and theories stemming from the Walking Dead season seven premiere.