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[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the season six finale of AMC’s The Walking Dead, “Last Day on Earth,” and the comic book series that the show is based on.]
Who did Negan kill?
That’s the biggest question heading into the previously announced seventh season of AMC’s The Walking Dead. But what do we know about it?
Following the backlash to the season six cliffhanger, producers have been relatively tight-lipped about what they have planned for the zombie drama’s October return, offering only bits and pieces of their broader plan. After the finale, producers stressed that season six was the end of one story, with whomever Negan kills marking the start of a new one.
Here, THR takes a look at what we know (so far) about season seven.
It will pick up with Negan’s deadly swing.
New star Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Negan) told reporters that “season seven picks up right where we left off and you’ll see who was at the end of that bat and what happened from there.” That means that one of the Kneeling 11 — Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Michonne (Danai Gurira), Glenn (Steven Yeun), Daryl (Norman Reedus), Rosita (Christian Serratos), Carl (Chandler Riggs), Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Aaron (Ross Marquand), Eugene (Josh McDermitt), Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) — will meet their maker in episode 701.
But who is it?
Executive producer Robert Kirkman, who created the comic book series that the AMC drama is based on, said on the Talking Dead finale that whoever is at the other end of Negan’s barbed-wire-covered bat Lucille is “beloved to everyone.” Our odds are on Steven Yeun’s Glenn, the character who meets the same fate in the landmark 100th issue of the comics. (THR readers thus far seem to agree, with Glenn collecting nearly 50 percent of the votes in our Walking Dead death poll.) Meanwhile, showrunner Scott M. Gimple told reporters that whoever gets whacked will “change everything with the story,” which would seem to indicate that it is a major character. Our money is still on Glenn — and here’s why we think it should be Glenn.
The death scene hasn’t actually been filmed yet.
“We have not filmed it yet and I don’t know if the person knows yet or not,” executive producer Greg Nicotero — who directed the season six finale and will helm the upcoming premiere — told THR. Even Chandler Riggs, whose Carl is one of the Kneeling 11, said he was in the dark, too. Lincoln said the entire cast made a pact to not share their theories or discuss it as nobody outside of the show’s inner circle knows who it is. Gimple — who takes a “remix” approach to adapting the source material — has known who dies for a long while and, ahead of the finale, told THR that he felt a certain responsibility to make good on the shocking comics moment.
There will be blood.
When asked how the series will approach such a graphic scene from the comics, Gimple said he was “certain that [the series] will be pushing some boundaries with it.”
What’s the theme?
Season six explored two central subjects: the responsibility of survival (from the first half) and what to do with that power (the last eight episodes). Season seven will focus on “How do you begin again?” Gimple told reporters. That will mean the Surviving 10 will head back to Alexandria not only in shock but with Rick “completely broken.” “For some, it isn’t going to be wholly negative, but it will challenge them with how they choose to move forward and who they want to be,” Gimple said, noting stories would be both dark and light.
About Rick …
Lincoln told THR that Rick will blame himself for allowing his ego, hubris and pride to get in the way of seeing Negan and the Saviors for the threat that they wound up becoming. Guilt and the responsibility for whoever dies will obviously weigh heavily on him. “At the moment he’s on his knees, he knows the game is up. I think it’s going to irrevocably change who that guy is and how he feels as a leader when the scene eventually plays out,” Lincoln said.
Heading for the Kingdom
After adding the Hilltop community as well as Negan and his Saviors and their compound in season six, The Walking Dead laid the groundwork to introduce the Kingdom in season seven. In the finale, two men in armor come to help Morgan and Carol. One of them is the same guy whom Morgan and Rick saw in the penultimate episode. The Kingdom, like the Hilltop and Alexandria, is another community of survivors — and they detest Negan and the Saviors. The Kingdom is overseen by a George Clinton-like leader named Ezekiel, a former zookeeper who watches over the community with Shiva, his pet tiger. The residents of the Kingdom dress in protective armor — and serve as knights to the so-called “King Ezekiel” at a transformed high school. “If we do see the Kingdom, it’ll be a big reveal and it will be another new world to inhabit and explore,” said Gimple, who would neither confirm nor deny the story point. Clues that the series would introduce the Kingdom were first offered in the penultimate episode.
Will there be an actual tiger on the show?
On the question of whether the series would feature a tiger, the outlook seems to be good. “Can we have a real tiger? We can have a lot of things and people will have to wait and see,” Gimple said. “But if I were just watching the show, I’d want to see that tiger.” Added Nicotero: “We’ve started those conversations and I’m very confident in the path that we’ve chosen in terms of how we’re going to execute that, but I don’t want to get into it too much.”
Approaching All Out War
Members of the Kingdom, like those of the Hilltop and Alexandria, do not wish to be a part of Negan’s reign of terror as the F-bomb-dropping baddie uses fear, intimidation and violence to take half of the neighboring communities’ food, supplies and weapons in exchange for safety (from the Saviors). Lincoln told THR that he’s excited about the larger world the show has set up. That includes the likely “All Out War” storyline from the comics in which residents from Alexandria, the Hilltop and the Kingdom unite to create an army to bring Negan down.
Will Rick keep killing?
Lincoln said it’s yet to be decided if the murder committed by Negan will change Rick’s policy about killing humans. Consider this: Rick led Glenn and company into the Saviors’ compound and killed multiple members of that community. Daryl and Eugene did the same during other confrontations. Would Negan kill a member of Rick’s group had they not killed so many of his people?
Carol and … Morgan?
Fan favorite Melissa McBride’s Carol will continue to do what she has to do in order to avoid taking other lives. Gimple said both Carol and Morgan — who now appear headed directly for the Kingdom — will explore how they move on from the exchange that saw Morgan break his no-kill policy in order to save Carol. We’re also going to bet that Carol and Morgan may become a romantic pairing in what would be a big remix from the comics, where Michonne and Morgan hook up.
New locations, tone and characters
Gimple said the first half of season seven is going to open up even more beyond Alexandria, the Saviors and the Hilltop. “We’ll have a wide variety of locales and tone and of character,” he told THR. “There’s going to be … probably the biggest variety of stories we’ve had yet. Without spoiling anything, things are going to start off very, very dark because everybody knows where we’re starting. But that won’t be the whole season. It’s not going to be darkness upon darkness upon darkness.”
Can Maggie and her unborn baby survive?
Of Maggie, who was last seen kneeling before Negan and on the verge of a miscarriage, Gimple stressed that her diagnosis will be shared one way or the other. Asked specifically if there could be more than one death in the season premiere, EP Nicotero stressed that “nobody looked really good in those last few moments” of the season finale. That includes Daryl, who is already nursing a gunshot wound to the shoulder.
Carl and Negan will have their moment.
In the comics, Negan takes a liking to Rick’s son Carl, who sneaks off to kill Negan and winds up making it out of his compound shockingly alive after killing multiple Saviors. Gimple said that relationship would be featured in season seven but, as he tends to do with the source material, may be remixed a bit. “It may be very brief, but we will absolutely see them have a pretty intense moment,” he said. “There’s going to be a bit of remixing and there may be another character involved who takes some of it. Whether it’s with Carl or not, I cannot say. But I absolutely want to explore Negan having that kind of respect for someone, which is the hallmark of that relationship.”
Season seven of The Walking Dead premieres in October. For more Walking Dead coverage, go to THR.com/WalkingDead.
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