There’s no way around it; the first half of season 7 was tough for any viewer of the show. We got to witness the horrendous conclusion to the cliffhanger from last season, as Negan decided to kill not only Abraham, but Glenn as well. As difficult as the first few scenes of that episode were, the rest of the season was equally uncomfortable as we began to watch all these heroic characters grapple with the reality of answering to a ruthless dictator. While it was definitely not cheery to watch the death, grief, and struggling progress, we did get to see a lot of great material, some great growth and heroics by some of the characters, and a hopeful ending for the first half. It goes without saying that the state of the show has changed drastically, and while the emotional change has been tough to witness, there is some real hope for the Alexandrians that they may overcome The Saviors and reclaim their freedom soon. I’m looking forward to a great payoff in the second half after all of the trials and tribulations Rick and the crew suffered through so far.
Favorite Character: Daryl
- I think the suffering Daryl had to face at the hands of Negan was one of the most harrowing experiences anyone on this show has had to face. The guy was beaten, stripped, tortured, and imprisoned for his actions during the groups’ introduction to Negan. Somehow throughout his whole experience, Daryl managed to stay stubborn, defiant, and proud, and seeing him refuse to give in to Negan was a stark juxtaposition to how Rick caved under the pressure. I loved how Daryl handled himself with Negan, and his daring escape from The Sanctuary was nothing short of amazing! Daryl has easily become my favorite character on this show over the last few seasons, and I think the way he handled the Negan experience so far is proof of why I love the character.
Least Favorite Character: Dwight
- I feel like the show has tried to make us see two sides of Dwight by giving us his back-story about his wife and the difficult choices he’s made to stay safe and powerful in a world that’s out of his control. I’m not onboard with Dwight though, I think the guy has proven to be an ass and a coward, and no humanizing back-story is going to make him an enjoyable character for me. It would be easy to say that Negan is the villain and the most loathsome character, but at least his ruthlessness is enjoyable, and his portrayal has been sensational. Dwight is just a mopey bad guy who I lack sympathy for.
Favorite Storyline: Morgan and Carol visit the Kingdom
- Amidst the doom and gloom of the Negan storyline, there was a really nice silver lining in season 7 where we got to see the place Carol and Morgan ended up in; The Kingdom. The Kingdom was a wonderful, seemingly pleasant community lead by a magnanimous ruler named King Ezekiel. Not only was this my favorite storyline because it was clearly the most joyous of the episodes we saw this season, but also because it was great to see the fascinating connection between Ezekiel and Carol. Their conversation towards the end of the second episode of the season was one of the highlights of the season so far. On top of all of that, The Kingdom offered some other really great moments, like the introduction of a live tiger into their world, as well as one of the funniest minor characters we’ve seen in the entire run of the show, Ezekiel’s henchman Jerry. It’s going to be interesting to watch next season as Alexandria and The Kingdom come together!
Least Favorite Storyline: Tara visits the Oceanside Community
- I hope there’s some payout to this storyline in the second half of the season, because I have no idea what any of this had to do with anything. Sure it was kind of cool to see a group of badass women surviving the apocalypse together, and yes there’s some relevance in that their colony was ravaged by the saviors, but this whole storyline felt out of the blue, isolated from the rest of the story, and just generally irrelevant. I think the thing that made it feel this way was having the story center around Tara, a character who really hasn’t been featured heavily enough n the show for anyone to really get too invested with. Perhaps if Carol had been the one who met this Colony it would’ve been more interesting, but then again it may not have gone as well otherwise. As I said though, there’s hope that this storyline will pay-off when Alexandria needs to build an army against The Saviors.
Favorite New Character: Simon
- It might be strange, but I really like the character of Simon. Negan is entertaining, but his totalitarian leadership and general ruthlessness makes him a bit hard to swallow sometimes, whereas Simon has all of the ruthless grit without any blood on his hand so far. It also might be his portrayer too, because I think Simon Ogg is doing one hell of a job bringing a relatively minor character to the forefront of the episodes he’s in. Just the little things like his reaction when Negan asks him for a pen, or when he took Greg’s liquor have really sold me on the character so far. Sure, he’s a terrible guy, but I’m dying to see more of him interacting with the main characters.
- 1 – Daryl escapes
- This was the feel good moment of the season so far for me, and I imagine I won’t get too much disagreement about that. After all of the torture and the defiance he showed in the face of Negan, having Daryl break free and steal his bike back was the ultimate redemption not only for the character, or the good guys in general, but also for the fans who have endured the tough scenes as well. Daryl escaping was very much needed.
- 2 – Rosita tries to assassinate Negan
- This was probably the single most stunning moment outside of the death scenes in the first episode, and the way the show started it while leading into commercial made the shock value even higher. I loved the gumption Rosita showed in the face of Negan, similar to way Daryl acted, and heavily contrasted with the behavior of Spencer. Rosita has definitely been the breakout character of the season, and I’m very happy about that.
- 3 – Carl and Enid rollerblade through the woods
- This was really such a jovial moment in the midst of such despair, that it stands out as possibly the best feel good moment of the season. To see Carl and Enid just be teenagers and have some fun was a good break from the monotony of everyone else’s pain, and seeing their relationship kind of blossom on top of that is nice. It might be the end times, but dammit, Carl and Enid deserve to just be kids every once in a while!
- Jeffrey Dean Morgan
- This guy has put on an acting clinic as Negan so far. Not only has he played the character as the ruthless, disgusting dictator he is, but he’s also brought a great deal f charisma and humor to the character, enough so that you can’t help but enjoy watching him. It’s strange to feel good about watching such a despicable character terrorize the protagonists of the series, but Morgan has made Negan must-see TV. The guy deserves Emmy consideration, in my opinion.
- Christian Serratos
- As I mentioned above, Rosita was a breakout character this season, and I give her portrayer Serratos a lot of credit for selling us on her newfound aggression. We got to see Rosita really step out as a leader and an aggressor under the Negan rule this season, as she has plotted and intimidated and made sure people were going to fight back against tyranny. Her attempt to assassinate Negan was the most daring moment of the season (with Carl’s truck hiding a close second) and should be a catalyst for more airtime in the second half. I think Rosita is a character that is only now finally being fleshed out, and Christian Serratos seems to be reveling in her newfound lead actress status!
- Christine Evangelista
- I can’t get behind Dwight because of his stubborn, ruthless cowardice, but his ex-wife Sherry has become quite an interesting wild card in the lives of The Saviors. Evangelista has played the character as being both strong and vulnerable, compassionate yet level-headed, and her story seems to be positioning her towards having a big part in taking down Negan from the inside of The Sanctuary. Her conversations with Daryl were some of the highlights of his feature episode, and Evangelista particularly shined in her scenes with Morgan. I’m very excited to see what kind of role Sherry (and even Dwight) plays in Negan’s inevitable fall.
5 Things I Wish to See Happen in the Second Half of the Season:
- 1 – The Kingdom and Alexandria to come together to take down The Saviors
- This has already been teased in the preview for the next episode, but I’m most fascinated to see how Rick and Ezekiel interact with each other. I think Ezekiel will eventually lend an army to fight, but I don’t think he will without some serious convincing. Maybe it will be Carol who finally brokers the deal as she comes out of exile, but who knows?
- 2 – Carol to find her place back in society
- Carol simply cannot stay in exile forever; her friends need her way too much. My hopes are that Morgan can finally get through to her and she can use her sway with Ezekiel to help Alexandria and The Kingdom come together.
- 3 – Maggie to assume leadership of the Hilltop Community
- Gregory needs to go, everyone knows it, and I’m hoping that the people of Hilltop embrace Maggie as their leader. It will be very interesting to see if this actually happens because we’ve never really seen the group split amongst different homes, at least not since Woodbury. It could create room for some crazy sorts of conflict down the line if The Saviors get run out as expected.
- 4 – Heath’s whereabouts to be answered
- This is the one loose thread that’s hanging around from one of the most random storylines from this season. Heath and Tara were separated when on a supply run, and Tara ended up washing out on a beach downstream from where she fell, while Heath apparently just vanished. The end of Tara’s episode gave us reason to believe that Heath survived his encounter, but where the hell did he go then? Was he captured, did he die, we must know sometime soon!
- 5 – Rick to take down Negan
- This is a repeat wish, but I think it’s now very crucial that Rick be the one to end Negan once and for all, given the psychological abuse he was dealt at his hands. Negan emasculated Rick Grimes in a way that was truly unfathomable, in a way that those who love him could hardly believe, and for there to be any real, poetic redemption to this episode of their lives it has to be Rick who ends Negan once and for all. The showdown will be sensational and should make for an amazing season finale, should the show decide to go that route.