Synopsis of 7×01: After a six month wait, audiences finally learn the outcome of the worst game of eeny meeny miney moe ever. Remember, all your property now belongs to Negan…
After waiting six months, the wait is finally over! Sort of. The episode opens with the NYCC sneak peek and not in the moment of brain-bashing, instead focusing on the aftermath and drawing it out for twenty minutes before we learn of Negan’s victim. Welcome to The Walking Dead season 7 filler!
Rick is dragged into the RV with Negan, who drives the axe into the table and attempts to drive them to a more secluded location, though the RV won’t start. Cowering in the corner, Negan taunts Rick as he’s sitting in the driver’s seat with his back turned to pick up the axe and give his group a fighting chance. When he finally does, Negan rounds on him with a gun and smacks him down again.
The threat of “think about what happened and what can still happen” looms between them as Negan finally starts the RV and gets it moving. Rick’s having flashbacks to the people in the group he left behind as Negan makes jokes about driving through walkers and if that reminds Rick of anyone. They end up at the burning barricade from the season six finale, where Rick’s group witnessed the man hung over the bridge.
In the foggy dawn light, Negan casually tosses the axe onto the roof of the RV and forces Rick to go retrieve it in a show of power, even as walkers close in around them. Disoriented and still in shock, Rick fumbles around in the haze while continuing to have flashbacks about his friends. He eventually climbs to the top of the RV to lay down.
Twenty minutes into the episode, audiences finally return to the eeny meeny miny moe scene and again watch Negan make his rounds. This time, he stops in front of Big Red himself and hits Abraham square in the head. With his final words, “Suck my nuts,” he’s bludgeoned to death in front of the rest of the group. It’s Abraham!
And then in the middle of another Negan monologue, Daryl gets feisty and lands a punch before being subdued again. That’s a no no in Negan’s book, even though he stops Dwight from putting an arrow through Daryl’s skull. Instead, he re-iterates that he’s a man of his word and first impressions are important. He wants them to know exactly who he is.
So he also introduces Glenn to Lucille! Unlike Abraham, who went brutally but quickly, Glenn’s only hit once and has time to tell Maggie that he’ll find her, gruesome with his eye popping out and all. We thought we’d get away without the iconic comics moment, but it found us and was very true to source (as sad as that makes everyone).
Back on the roof of the RV, Negan is talking to Rick and telling him again to bring the axe back. Shooting through the roof, Rick is forced to jump onto the hanging walker to save himself. Just as the body is disconnecting from the head, and Rick’s boots are being tugged on by the walkers below, Negan opens an RV window and mows them down. The clock is ticking and Rick goes scrambling after the axe once more.
Interspersed with this is the imagery of everyone else getting hit with the bat, as Rick imagines it. And yet, he does get the axe back to Negan, receiving an atta boy for his troubles. Negan drives them back to where the rest of the group is still on their knees, sympathizing with Rick that it must be hard for him to be knocked down like this. Offering Rick his axe back, he tells him that he’s going to need it and that he can still life a nice productive life for him.
Dragged back out of the RV, Negan asks Rick if he’s learned his lesson before determining that he hasn’t. He didn’t like the way Rick was looking at him, and continued to look at him, and asked if he should give Rick another chance to try again. Rick manages to say yes and Negan orders everyone to have guns leveled at the back of their heads and beckons Carl over.
Taking off his belt, he puts a tourniquet onto Carl’s arm and draws a line on his forearm. Then, he tells Rick to cut off Carl’s hand “like a salami slice” or everyone else dies. Rick offers himself up instead and Negan unsympathetically begins counting down. Frantic, upset, and screaming, Carl tells his father just to do it.
But before he can, Negan stops him to remind him that, “You answer to me, you provide for me, you belong to me, right?” With nothing left, Rick agrees and Negan finally gets the look he wants from Rick. He announces that today was a productive damn day and has Daryl loaded up into a car to take with him, threatening Rick that he’ll make him chop pieces off Daryl himself if he disobeys again.
“Welcome to a brand new beginning,” He promises, leaving them a truck and giving them a week deadline to gather an offering before saying goodbye and dispersing with his whole group.
Rick’s group… sits there, stunned. Maggie is the first one to get off of her knees and stumble towards Glenn. Rick tries to go to her, but she tells him she wants him to fight. He demures because they’ve got Daryl and an army, thinking that they’ll all die. Maggie tells him to go home then, take everyone with him, and she’ll go on to the Hilltop alone.
Sasha gets up and says she’s going to make sure Maggie gets to the Hilltop safely and she’s not giving her a choice about it. They’ve both just lost the men in their lives, as well as Rosita and Sasha, who share a moment. Maggie has to do this and Rick begs to help her, saying that Glenn’s their family too. Everyone bands together to take Glenn and Abraham’s bodies with them in the RV and they drive away.
There’s a Sunday dinner scene, which Negan had been telling Rick all episode would never be possible now, that’s on par with the LOST church scenes. Everyone’s together – even the people not at Negan’s showcase like Enid, Morgan, and Tara – Glenn has a child with him, Sasha is sitting next to Abraham, everyone is happy.
And that’s all. Was it worth the wait, folks? Based solely on the acting of Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Andrew Lincoln, I’m pretty damn excited for the season of Negan.