After several months waiting for the Season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead, we finally know the identity of Negan’s (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) victim, revealed after a long, painful buildup.
The Season 6 finale, which aired in April, left us with the mother of all cliffhangers: As punishment for killing members of the Saviors, Negan brutally murders one of the show’s main characters with his barbed-wire bat, Lucille. The victim was left a mystery. Since then, the internet’s been breaking down the episode’s final scene like the Zapruder film, looking for clues. Now we know.
Many, many spoilers below. You’ve been warned.
It wasn’t one victim, it was two: Rest in peace, Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and Glenn (Steven Yeun).
With the rest of group watching and crying in horror, Negan beat Abraham over the head with Lucille, giving Abraham time for one last insult before he was left a bloody pulp. Afterward, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) promises to kill Negan, and when Daryl (Norman Reedus) takes a swing at him, Negan turns his attention to Glenn, dooming him to the same fate. Glenn’s last words: “Maggie, I’ll find you.”
It was brutal. And horrifying. It might be the grossest thing I’ve ever seen on television.
It also took forever to get there; the reveal didn’t happen until roughly 20 minutes through the episode, after AMC had managed to slip a couple ad breaks in first. On Twitter, viewers joked about how long the show could stretch things out.
Of course, it didn’t end there. After Glenn and Abraham are killed, the show teases another one of the comic’s more notorious story lines: Rick losing his hand. In the comics, it’s The Governor who takes it, so we’re long overdue. However, it’s Carl (Chandler Riggs) who briefly looks like he will suffer that fate when Negan puts a tourniquet on Carl’s arm, draws a line, and demands Rick cut it off. Rick pleads with Negan, offering to take the punishment himself, and Carl, ever the soldier, tells his dad to do it. But Negan, satisfied with having broken Rick, spares the hands of both Grimes boys and finally leaves with the rest of the Saviors — and Daryl, whom he throws into the back of the van and threatens to send back to Rick in pieces. Basically, this is now Negan's show.
Fans have anticipated Negan’s arrival (and the inevitable violence that came with him) since the first appearance of the Saviors in 2015, and the show has teased the big moment for years. And the cast did everything in its power, via making the press rounds, to get fans prepared before the premiere. Reedus told the New York Daily News, “Bring a blankie, hold the hand of someone you care about. It’s a heavy episode.” Executive producer Greg Nicotero told Indiewire, “Grab a box of Kleenex when you watch it and understand that everything happens for a reason.”
Based on the tributes to Glenn and Abraham online (and on a 90-minute Talking Dead), it’s safe to say Walking Dead fans are sad. But viewers have yet to see the reason for it all.