In tonight’s seventh season premiere of The Walking Dead, we finally got the answer to the question we’ve been waiting for over the last 202 days: Who did Negan kill? As it turns out, there were multiple victims, as Jeffrey Dean Morgan warned a few weeks ago.
“Negan’s not just going to kill one person,” he said.
However, when he realized he may have given something away that he shouldn’t have, Morgan “clarified” his remarks the next day, saying that his words were taken out of context. They weren’t. Morgan meant exactly what he originally said.
That, however, is just one of several ways that The Walking Dead has not exactly lied, but misled us over the course of the last 202 days in an effort to hide the identities of the actual victims: Abe and Glenn.
Glenn, of course, was the most expected death, because Glenn is the character who Negan killed in the comics. The first huge hint that it would be Glenn in the series as well was when Steven Yeun left the country to film Bong Joon-ho’s big-budget Netflix movie, Okja. However, there were a few other factors that seemed to rule out Glenn’s death. Last season, for instance, The Walking Dead led us to believe over the course of several episodes that he had died when he was pinned under Nicholas’ body. When Glenn returned, there were a couple more Glenn scares. Surely, after teasing Glenn’s death so many times, they wouldn’t actually follow through and him, would they?
The other lie? That damn Demi Lovato “Happy Birthday” message! Taped on the set of The Walking Dead after the season premiere had been filmed, it featured a quick shot of Steven Yeun, which seemingly ruled out Glenn’s death. How could he be dead if he was still on the set? I mentioned at the time, however, that it was possible that The Walking Dead producers inserted the frame to throw viewers off the scent, and that is apparently exactly what they did.
Meanwhile, Jeffrey Dean Morgan also straight-up lied at San Diego Comic Con when he was asked by Kevin Smith who died in the premiere. “No one sitting here,” Morgan said. Morgan was sitting with the actors who play Rick, Daryl and Glenn.
As for Abe? The show’s efforts to mislead were even more aggressive. For instance, Michael Cudlitz — who plays Abraham — strongly implied that he’d still be on the show after the season premiere. Cudlitz didn’t exactly lie, however. He said, “Now we get to see what a world with Negan and Abraham both in it will be like. That’s something we don’t see in the graphic novels.” That’s technically true. For about 5 minutes, before Negan bashed his head in, we did get to see what the show looked like with both Negan and Abraham.
There was also this shot from the seventh season trailer that looks an awful lot like Abraham:
Either that was another actor who looks a lot like Cudlitz, or that frame was again inserted into the trailer to mislead those of us who watch trailers frame-by-frame into believing that Abraham was safe. Smart.
The producers also seemed to really want us to believe that Daryl would die in the season premiere, showing Dwight riding around on Daryl’s motorcycle and wearing his clothes as well as a clip from the premiere with Daryl’s blanket lying in front of the dead body.
If that wasn’t enough to misled us, this weekend an alternate death was “leaked,” which showed that Maggie met the business end of Negan’s bat.
In the end, however, the two people who died were the characters many fans assumed would die based on Occam’s razor: Glenn and Abraham died in the comics, so it makes the most sense that they would die in the series. In March, after all, we predicted that when Denise took Abraham’s death from the comics, it would spell doom with Abraham when Negan arrived.
Indeed, when premiere director Greg Nicotero speaks, we should probably take him at his word. The premiere, as he promised, was “disturbing,” and — as Nicotero said late last week — this season follows the comics closely.
It sure as hell did, for better or worse.