The great defining moment from the final episode of season 6 was Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) standing in pouring rain in the middle of the night readying his barbed-wire baseball Lucille to rain down bloody death on one of Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln) crew. We didn’t see who died but the threat of imminent death was real and apocalyptically present.
It didn’t go down well with a lot of fans – a furore that left many others nonplussed since it was, after all, simply a good old-fashioned cliffhanger – but it was impossible to walk away from that episode with any other impression than everything was about to change bigtime for the Alexandria crew.
No longer the main game in town – to be fair that was only in their hubris-addled minds and reflected only their big vengeful fish in a small pond of survivors status – they are at the mercy of Negan and his army of loyal subjects.
But an even bigger development than Negan’s bloodthirsty bruatality is that it reveals a post-civilisation world bigger than anyone could have imagined. Given the scattered nature of most settlements, it had become all too easy for Rick and the gang to assume that this was the full extent of life now, that humanity had lost its ability to draw together in big cohesive city states and build something real and lasting.
That’s not the case at all as Morgan (Lennie James) and Carol (Melissa McBride) discovered when they were rescued by the members of The Kingdom, a group that opposes Negan bloody dictatorship and is ruled over with benign but firm idiosyncrasy by King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) who sits astride a throne with a toger, yes a tiger by his side. But he’s one of the good guys so let him have a whole menagerie if it makes him happy right? Throw in Hilltop, which the Alexandrians have already visited – it was the arrogant decision by Rick to help them face off against Negan that got everybody into their current mess – and who knows who else out there and you have the makings of a tribal sprawl of powerful city states that could see humanity rebuild its civilisation, at least in part.
It’s all encouraging on one level but wholly terrifying on another since it means that the small world that has become so familiar and knowable by the Alexandrians and in which Rick and the group has forged a very accomplished niche thank you very much, has been blown wide open and nothing will ever be the same again.
All of which augurs for a seventh season in which nothing will ever be the same again and as the featurette intimates, will change The Walking Dead for good.
Swing that bat Negan and let’s get this bad, brave new world started.
The Walking Dead returns 23 October on AMC in USA and on 24 October on FX in Australia.
Oh and if you don’t think there is humour to be mined from the apocalypse, let comedy great John Cleese persuade you otherwise with his hilarious recap of the first six seasons of The Walking Dead, and a pithy summation of the rules of this bad, brave new world including one we should all heed – “Don’t look at the flowers”. (source: Cinemablend)