Breaking Man and Building Heroes (Walking Dead Spoilers)

We are five episodes into the seventh season of The Walking Dead, and I’ve finally found my thoughts so far. I was counting down the days to the premier, soaking in every promo ad. Each character compilation of their journey from the beginning broke my heart. Hell, the release date was even on my calendar. And, here we are into the season, and I’ve been finding myself quiet. There are a mess of spoilers below, so if you are not totally current on the show stop reading, bookmark it, and come back if you want to.

As many of you are well aware of, I’m huge Walking Dead Fan. Comics. The show. The characters. I’m all in. So much so, I’m incredibly forgiving when it comes to oversights or devastating deaths. Last season left us with hearts in our hands, on the edge of our seats. For those who are also readers of the comic (myself included) had a pretty good idea Glen would face the fate of Lucille, but still, we weren’t sure. The Season 7 premiere “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be” came and left many with a hollow feeling. I felt sick. Abraham’s and Glen’s death was gruesome and heart clenching. Oh man, when Maggie got ready to continue her way to The Hilltop despite the divesting loss of her husband destroyed me. The credits rolled, and I was speechless. I had planned to write something about the first episode, to take my fandom to the next level, and I couldn’t say a thing. Watching Negan break Rick down through the course of an hour closed any glimmer of hope, of a way out for them. The format of this episode added layers of emotion. Seeing their death’s through Rick’s memories, it killed me.

“The Well”  took us to the kingdom with the deliriously unstable Carol. Her quote “I don’t know what the hell is going on in the most wonderful way” will be among the classics for the show. The Kingdom’s involvement with Negan added depth to his reign that added gloom despite the cheery gloss of the episode. Plus, there’s a tiger with an owner filled to the brim with backstory.

Any hope I pulled from The Kingdom was crushed the following week while I watched “The Cell” through my fingers as Negan and Dwight (Dwight may be one my most hated characters) break down Daryl (my favorite) through repetitive and degrading torture. Daryl is an all time self-sacrificer. Despite his gruff exterior and incredible ranger-like abilities, he is all heart and oh so loyal. There is a whisper telling me Daryl will do something amazing. But a small part of me worries about his future. Daryl wasn’t in the comics, so there is nothing to pull from. The show often strays from the exact storyline in the comics, but there are always clues in the panels for an idea of what is to come in the show. I just don’t know what’s going to happen to him and it is making me crazy. I really, really hope he doesn’t go the way Beth did. There has to be good reason to break our hearts.

“Service” crushed me in an entirely different way. An hour and a half of Negan shaking down Alexandria. I felt the character’s feelings about Rick coming up short. As Rick transformed from instruction follower to a darker version of himself, something a littler closer to Negan, it was hard not to share the current disdain for Rick. He is the leader after all (or was) it was his responsibility to take care of everyone. Maggie trusted him…

But, here I am swallowing “Go Getters” and I feel hopeful. Wow, what an amazing episode. Maggie, Sasha, and Enid form a bond and a new alliance in the most heart-enriching way. There were several exchanges between Sasha and Maggie, Enid and Maggie, and all three of them, that left me screaming, “Yes!” The three clearly have a future with Jesus as they gain control over The Hilltop that I am really excited about. The Saviors showed up with a new crew. As the thugs took their share at The Hilltop, I didn’t feel sick the way I did while Negan pillaged Alexandria for their guns, pride, and mattresses because it was evident a new leader is emerging. Maggie, am I right? Wow, when she drove the tractor over the singing car and trespassing zombies. There was so much to take from this episode, that I finally found my voice. Right before the credits rolled Jesus and Carl crossed paths in the back of the truck heading to Negan’s!!!! Wow!

The Walking Dead has plenty of zombies, but it isn’t really about that. They are the setting. Life is the way it because of the zombie apocalypse, but it in earnest it’s about the people surviving, a continued comment on the harshness of humanity. The characters have been through so much, and have changed through it all. At the heart of it, The Walking Dead is relationships, fear, society, and the darkness in all of us. Humans are predators. Any storyline that really digs deep into the part of humanity really appeals to me, as it does with many. Apocalyptic worlds feel familiar. Nightmares are a manifestation of fears, stress, and trauma. The interest in a fallen society is a symptom of our current society (I am not just talking about the election). The time we are in is very intense, and uncertain seeming. There is a comfort I get when I watch or write a story about a broken world. The first time in Season 7, I can see ways our heroes can get out of it. Impossible odds, but they could do it. I believe in Maggie. There was something not right about Rick’s group and their merge with Alexandria. Seeing other factions split off really brings possibilities into play. There is a lot to hope for, as well as against. I’m really interested to see where all this goes on the show.

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