I recently read that one of the executive producers for The Walking Dead can see the show running for about 25-30 more years. Let’s let that sink in for a minute. A television series about a post apocalyptic world where zombies have taken over, could potentially reach a season 30. Now, as much as I am fan of this series (it still ranks as my alltime number one show), even I have trouble believing a statement like that. There are only so many places you can go to with a concept like this and keep it interesting. It’s still a great watch, but from an objective point of view I have to admit it just isn’t as strong as it used to be anymore. Season 7 is a great example of this as the series is now definitely beginning to show a few cracks in it’s otherwise shining armour. But before I’m already going to head into full review mode, let’s just see what the storyline for this season is all about.
This season starts where season 6 ended, right in the middle of a pretty big mess. The new bad guy, Negan, looms thriumphantly over our heroes with his pet bat Lucille promising to bash someone’s brains in. Yes you heard that right, this guy actually gave his bat that has been wrapped in barbed wire a name. And more horrifyingly he really keeps his promise as two people of the main cast don’t survive the encounter. It is the first time we see a truly broken Rick, that comes to the conclusion that he isn’t in charge anymore: Negan is. It is a truly depressing fact, and one that carries over for most of the rest of the season. And Negan really puts the screws on everyone, as he gives orders to find as much supplies as they can for him, or else suffer the consequences. It seems that this time there really is no way out for our heroes as Negan and his army are all but invincible. But there is always hope. Slowly new alliances are formed and plans are being made to take the fight to Negan. But in this world no one can be fully trusted, and Negan’s spies are everywhere. The rebellion against him might just be over, before it even has a chance to start…..
The first episode of this season has got to be the most heartpounding, stomache churning and quite frankly most horrible 45 minutes of television that I have ever seen. I went into that episode with a heart rate that must have raised quite a number of alarmbells if it would have been monitored at the time, and left it as a broken man. It was truly and utterly devestating, and that’s what the creators of course went for. One has to wonder though if things did not go too far, as the level of brutality in that episode really was completely off the charts. Whatever your thoughts are on that episode, one can’t deny the fact that it contained a few incredibly tense and nailbiting scenes, that really managed to create a level of fear that all bets are now truly off. The rest of the season however, never even once came close to that level of fear again. It was almost as if the writers did not know how to proceed forward from this point on.
Most of the cast is seperated from each other throughout this season, and we get episodes that at times focus on a single character, or small groups of them. While this is not a bad thing in itself, the execution for it leaves much to be desired. Some of the episodes in this season are just plain dull, with not much of anything really happening. We get introduced to a couple of new characters, of which the most noteworthy of these is King Ezekiel. Played by the relatively unknown actor Khary Payton, Ezekiel seems to have walked straight out of the Middle Ages into the modern world. And even better he has a tiger that accompanies him. It makes for a great character that unfortunately was a bit underused in my opinion. But that’s pretty much the problem with this entire season: it really serves as a build up to something big and as such really takes things slow, and at times a bit too slow.
But not everything in this season is bad though. The real saving grace is the character of Negan played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Wow, will you grow to hate this man with a vengeance, but at the same time laugh at him as well. Because really, Negan is funny. He is deliciously evil, and some of his (bad) jokes are just seriously funny. You don’t want to laugh at them, but you just can’t help yourself in doing so. Negan really is a terrific villain and the absolute highlight of this season. Most, if not all of the scenes he appears in are a delight to watch. And then there is Rick. Andrew Lincoln has always been a very impressive actor, but this season he plays Rick to the fullest, and some of his scenes will leave you with goosebumps on your arms. He really still is the driving force of this show, and if he were ever to leave the Walking Dead, I would say it’s time to pull the plug.
This season leaves me with a lot of conflicting emotions. It starts off with a bang, but then seems to fizzle and never can quite rediscover it’s momentum. While there is still enough for me to enjoy being an enormous fan of the series, more casual viewers will probably find the pacing too slow in order for them to really have fun with it. The season’s finale also wasn’t as big as in previous seasons. So one has to wonder what this means for the future of the show. Season 8 has just reached it’s midseason episode (and I have heard it rumored that it again contained quite a shock), and also promises to really start the war between Rick and Negan in earnest. But what then? Where can the show go after that war concludes? As much as I love this series, it is a concept that I think can’t be taken much further than it already has. It was the same problem that 24 eventually faced: the show just became a rehash of things that we had already seen in previous seasons. Still, I will never stop watching it, right up until the end. I just love it too much for that. The score below for this season represents watching it as a fan. If you are a more casual viewer you might want to deduct one or even two points from it.
I give The Walking Dead season 7 a 8 out of 10 score.