What fans can expect from season 7 of The Walking Dead
With The Walking Dead season 7 premiere airing in less than 3 weeks, viewers are eager to learn the outcome of the shocking cliffhanger from the season 6 finale. Our editorial team previously speculated on who Negan’s victim might be, and here we deliver a rundown of what to expect for the upcoming season and how Negan will impact the story going forward.
The official full season synopsis is as follows: “Up until this point, our characters have lived through conflicts…disease, hunger, scores of the undead, tragedy, betrayal, and unthinkable loss. Through this, they’ve become formidable. Powerful. Unstoppable. To start season 7, that power is taken away. They had found safety and stability. They had created a home. They thought the world was theirs. They thought they knew the world. They were wrong. The first half of season 7 sees our group fractured, broken, bereaved, and picking up the pieces while living under the thumb of oppression. Negan will have successfully brought the survivors under his control, brutally convincing them to live under his rules with a deadly and horrific example of what happens if they don’t. Other characters are unaware of what’s happened, but have become separated from the group either by incident or choice — they will learn that they can’t escape this new turn of their world, either. This half season is about these characters starting over. The overall theme of the season is beginning again. The world isn’t what they thought it was. It’s bigger and it’s even more dangerous.”
In previous seasons, the groups’ encounters with other factions have generally ended in their favor, albeit with great loss and tragedy along the way, and many fans are likely to expect this new threat to be handled in a similar fashion. However that will not be the case, and it can be expected that the fearsome leader Negan and his group The Saviors will be a sinister presence for a long time to come. Furthermore, Rick Grimes and company are about to find themselves in a much larger world, for better or worse, as they encounter other groups and ascertain the new world order, all while learning how to continue amidst tragedy and the greatest of threats.
Below we share some of the official character portraits and bios for season 7, in addition to highlighting what the cast and crew members have disclosed so far.
Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan)
Negan is a charismatic, totalitarian ruler with an iron fist in the form of a baseball bat named Lucille. He knows exactly how to make an introduction, establish his rule, and widen his scope of control and dominance. There are no hidden secrets – you follow his rules, you live; you don’t follow his rules, you die. He is a man of his word.
Actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan had the following to say on what to expect for season 7 “You need to be very careful about what you wish for because you are going to get it and more this year. It’s emotional. It’s hard. It’s hyper-violent. It’s a lot to take. When the audience sees it, they will know exactly what “a lot” means.” He also disclosed what it’s like to play the character and how he was influenced by the comics, saying “The way he moves is very unorthodox. I’ve changed how I walk, how I lean, how I talk. I saw one panel in the graphic novel where Negan is leaning back and laughing. That one panel encapsulated who Negan is for me. I have run with that panel. It’s part of his brutality.”
RICK (Andrew Lincoln)
Rick, for the first time in his pre-and post-apocalyptic life, is powerless. He is reevaluating everything he thought to be true in this world. He is terrified for his life, and the lives of his children, and the group. He now knows he is outnumbered and he has lost, regardless. The world is a much bigger, scarier place than he ever imagined.
Andrew Lincoln revealed how Negan impacts the story and what Rick’s group is up against, stating “We are seven years in and we are only unleashing now probably the greatest villain of the series. It’s a very thrilling and exciting time. It does feel like we are smashing everything and starting over. The Governor was much more about secrets. You didn’t know what the Governor was doing. Negan is very clear. He is very open with the people he meets. There is a charm, but there is a terrifying logic as well.” And on whether his character has met his match, he added “Without a doubt he has, absolutely. Everything is changed. The playing field has irrevocably changed.”
Carl (Chandler Riggs)
Last season, the progress Carl made towards innocence and optimism began to erode – the mercy and patience he gave Ron nearly resulted in his own death, and forever scarred and changed him. Was Carl ahead of the others in finding out the brutality of this world cannot be escaped?
Chandler Riggs had this to say about what the future looks like for the group “It looks very grim and very dark. The group has been put into a very submissive position by Negan. He is ruthless and he does not care. If someone steps out of line, he just kills them. That makes him a very dangerous character. There is not a lot of hope for the group.”
Michonne (Danai Gurira)
Michonne, having found purpose, growth, healing, and love, was on a trajectory for some kind of happiness. She had finally left behind the identity of the solitary swordsperson, walking the forest with walker pets. And yet, for as far as she’s come, she’s now forced to sit as Negan decides her and the group’s fate, forever altering life as they thought they knew it.
Danai revealed what makes Negan so dangerous and how he changes the landscape of The Walking Dead, saying “It’s a plausible circumstance that someone could do exactly what that man is doing. We are not in a position at that moment to make it any different from what it is. It’s the juxtaposition of Eeny Meeny Miny Moe with I am about to kill one of you – it’s horrific. They have never seen this type of force in this world yet. The game has changed. We hope we can still play it.”
Daryl (Norman Reedus)
Daryl finally made Alexandria his home, and the Alexandrians his extended family. Finding forgiveness, he saved Dwight, who in turn took his crossbow and used it to kill Denise – a defining moment for Daryl – and Daryl feels extreme guilt and anger. Now, he faces Dwight, Negan and the Saviors with no hope for the mercy he extended to “D” in the burnt out forest.
Actor Norman Reedus shared the following on what the group’s future looks like, “It looks really bad. It looks like they are about to have a complete change of lifestyle. We know Negan has people, but we don’t know the expanse of his tyranny.” And on how Negan is able to stop the group in their tracks where others have failed he said “Fear. Fear is a bigger motivator than love or revenge or anything else. He is putting fear in people and that does wonders. It is particularly cruel because he uses a nursery rhyme. He’s not remorseful and it’s not personal. It’s just going to happen… just to keep the order.”
Glenn (Steven Yeun)
Glenn has fully “grown up” – he’s been through trauma after trauma, and he’s come away stronger for it, picking up lessons from the people he’s lost along the way. Firmly cemented in his humanism, he’s wary of this new, brutal world and his place within it – especially with a child on the way.
Yeun speculates on how the group underestimated Negan, stating “There is a cockiness to the group, not arrogance. We think we can overcome all odds. Last season, Glenn says we were wrong about the world, it is much much bigger. And now we have to figure it out all over again. The threats that we have experienced are not even close to the threats that are really truly out there. It is definitely a humbling moment, but I still wouldn’t count out our cockiness.”
Maggie (Lauren Cohan)
Maggie, having found leadership and responsibility in Alexandria, now finds herself in a medical crisis, and in the lineup of potential victims. Everything that had led her to this moment was about finding strength in the face of loss. Now, she faces yet another loss – even potentially her own life.
Actress Lauren Cohan discussed what she hopes fans will feel watching this season “I hope that people feel the certainty and bravery of putting other people first. As difficult as the struggle has been for our group, the thing that they do right is think of each other and think of others. Part of the appeal for working on this show and being a fan of this show is the tribe. Being a part of something, knowing who you are, what your part is in it, the impact you make on other people’s lives, how you better a situation by giving of yourself, and you have a place in this family. That is what I have learned, and I hope that can be passed on. “
Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green)
Sasha struggled with her past traumas, flirting with self-destruction and came out the other side alive. She discovered a kindred spirit in Abraham and both of them found peace as they found each other. They have embraced the idea of living a full life together, beyond surviving. And yet, they sit in a lineup that guarantees that the world isn’t done with delivering them pain and loss.
Sonequa Martin-Green considered whether or not the group has a future, “To have your life in someone else’s hands, who will do whatever they want with it, it is a very chilling thing. Without hope, why live? That will be the hardest thing about the future because they are in a seemingly hopeless situation.”
Abraham (Michael Cudlitz)
Abraham is genuinely self-aware and living the post-apocalyptic life he wants, doing what he has to do in order to create that life for himself – even if meant hurting Rosita. Having come through that, having truly found what he wants, he now faces a life ahead full of conflict and compromise – if he even gets to lead it.
Cudlitz declares where the group goes from here, stating “It’s The Walking Dead, we lose people. I’m eager to see how the loss changes the group. And there are other groups we still haven’t met yet.”
Rosita (Christian Serratos)
Rosita’s world upended in the back half of last season – she lost a relationship that was a cornerstone for her life. And yet, she discovered there was a life beyond that…just as the Saviors came and killed Denise. Consumed with anger, she went after the Saviors – only to discover how powerless her group was against them. Now, sitting in the lineup, she is facing either more loss or her own death.
Christian Serratos explains what viewers can expect to learn about the group in the premiere “All our characters are very tough, very human, very capable, and very strong. At times, they may seem invincible. They are not. That is a very powerful message. These people can hurt, can bleed, and can feel fear. They do not have control.”
Eugene (Josh McDermitt)
Eugene found his place within the group. He stepped out of his comfort zone and learned he is not just an intellectual, but also a survivor. He proved he can protect himself, and more importantly, he can protect others. But his newly gained confidence is short-lived once they encounter the Saviors. Eugene suspects he and the group are going to lose this battle, and that he could possibly lose his life.
Josh explains how Negan has changed the landscape for the group “We thought we were in this nice little community where our biggest worry was we don’t have enough food. Negan came in and made this world much larger than we thought it was, while making our world a lot smaller.”
Aaron (Ross Marquand)
Aaron cares about the people of Alexandria – to keep that place going, he has put himself in danger time and time again, all towards working and fighting for a better tomorrow. That tomorrow has come, and it is darker than anything he could ever imagine. He sits in the lineup with people that have quickly become family to him, crushed and terrified in the knowledge that even if he survives, someone else will not
Actor Ross Marquand speculates on how Negan impacts the story “Negan has been a pervasive threat for most of last season. Even before he was revealed, there is this notion that he is everywhere. He is this ubiquitous force of negativity and darkness that is very terrifying. Just when they think they have the upper hand, they realize that they have only touched the tip of the iceberg. There is so much beneath what they think they know.”
Carol (Melissa McBride)
The events of Carol’s past are catching up to her soul – her abusive relationship, losing her daughter, burning lives at the prison, killing Lizzie, fighting off the Wolves and Saviors. She cannot keep on her current path of destruction for community survival. She is not suicidal – she instinctively knows when you love someone you must kill for them. If the choice is to kill to be with the group – or not kill and be alone, and if being alone means you die – in her words to Morgan, “please let me go.”
McBride indicated how fans should prepare for the premiere, stating “It’s going to be rough. There is no way to prepare for what is going to come. You think you know what is going to happen and the way it’s going to happen. You are not prepared for what is coming.” She also revealed what King Ezekiel and his group The Saviors add to the story “What this character has in the Kingdom is something very different from Terminus and from Woodbury, and something that Alexandria maybe could become. This colorful leader, from the goodness in his heart, genuinely wants a better world for the people in the Kingdom. What motivates him, how he follows through, how he takes care of the people – I don’t think the fans will be disappointed in Ezekiel or his sidekick.”
Morgan (Lennie James)
Morgan is questioning his philosophy. He was unable to kill his wife when he had to, which lead Morgan to kill – to “clear” – everything and everyone. All life became precious again when he met Eastman. Then he had to kill a Savior to save Carol. He is coming to terms that he cannot live in absolutes. Will this lead him to abandon his philosophy?
Lennie James offered what his character feels about the new group The Kingdom “It is all about survival. We can’t decide how other people make it through. And certainly Morgan can’t decide how other people make it through because his path has not always been a fairy tale. A large part of it has been a nightmare. Morgan is not going to be judgmental.”
Tara (Alanna Masterson)
Tara has had bad luck with the deaths she has experienced in the apocalypse. Now she is out on a run with Heath, unaware her girlfriend has been killed and the dire circumstance facing her friends.
Alanna deliberates on what the future looks like for the group “It’s pretty uncertain. You think if Rick is leading them, everything is going to be okay and everyone is going to do what they can to keep the group together. This is the first time you are unsure and you don’t know if anyone is okay.”
Showrunner Scott M. Gimple considers what the world looks like outside of Alexandria and what fans should expect for the group going forward, “Last season, the characters were starting to get a feel that this was a larger world. This was much more than they have seen, and they have seen a lot. By opening that door, and stepping in, they are seeing so many things that they didn’t imagine – positive and negative. They are going to see a much larger world than even they found at Hilltop. That was just the start. Human beings, however isolated we are from one another throughout the world, and we are getting less and less isolated, are connected one way or another. By meeting one person, you are meeting a ton of people. You are finding a lot of solutions and you are finding a lot of problems.”
Additionally, executive producer Gale Anne Hurd added the following about the group’s’ trajectory, “The show is about survival. The very ethos of this show is that even in the darkest hour there is going to be the dawn. You learn from your mistakes and you find a way to make it through until tomorrow. Once the sun comes up, you make it through until the next day. There is never going to be a point where over all as a group – maybe individuals might give up – but as a group, they live for each other, they support each other, and that group gives each one of them a reason to live.”
Ultimately, viewers of The Walking Dead should prepare for an emotional roller-coaster. The season premiere will pick up right where last season left off, guaranteeing the brutal loss of at least one beloved character. What follows is likely to play out over several seasons as the survivors learn how to pick up the pieces and carry on in new and unexpected ways.
Image credits: AMC, FOX