Season 7 of The Walking Dead has arguably been the most divisive of the entire series to date. Its brutal beginning saw the savage slayings of fan favourites Glenn and Abraham. Fans waited an age to see the outcome of the nail-biting cliffhanger from the Season 6 finale — and were hit with a double whammy of deaths; losses from which many of us never recovered. Glenn was the show’s heart, after all — and pivotal in shaping the family Rick, Maggie, Carol, etc have become, as Maggie explained in her rousing speech during the finale’s closing moments.
Some found the Lucille scenes gratuitous and too graphic. Others felt they were necessary in order to visually – and viscerally – represent the low point to which Rick and his group had to sink in order to give the show a new lease of life. Things had certainly become a little too comfortable for our grizzly hero and his entourage. The rest of the season dealt with the aftershock, until it all culminated in a climactic face-off during the show’s finale.
So where have things left off? Let’s take a look at the season’s major players and where they are in the run-up to Season 8.
The show’s co-executive producer Denise Huth said, “What happened to Glenn and Abraham has changed them irrevocably.” It’s safe to say this is more true of Rick than anybody else. Season 7 saw Rick plunge to his lowest moments, as he was forced to watch helplessly as Negan bludgeoned Glenn and Abraham to death with his barbed-wire wrapped baseball bat, Lucille. Negan taunted and tortured Rick, attempting to force him to hack off his own son’s arm with an axe, until he was truly broken.
And while for much of the season we saw Rick dancing to Negan’s cruel tune, in the second half of the season we saw him pick himself up. Drawing strength from those around him — his “family” – he found the wherewithal to unite the disparate groups of the Hilltop, Alexandria, and the Kingdom. They banded together and brought the fight to the Saviors, only to find they were double-crossed by Jadis and the Scavengers.
The finale closed with Negan and Jadis hastily retreating. While the war is most definitely on, Rick ended the season in a far healthier position than when Season 7 began. We last saw him standing side by side with Maggie and Ezekiel on a podium addressing the members of their respective communities, readying them for the coming war.
Daryl is another character, like Rick, who has been through a hellish time of it in Season 7. Taken and imprisoned by Negan, he was well and truly worked over, both physically and mentally. But his resolve never broke. He bided his time and with a little help from Sherry, grabbed his moment to escape.
We learned that Daryl’s softer side is still intact after tearful reunions with both Carol and Rick. However, he’s not necessarily merciful, as he vowed to kill Dwight after they were seemingly double-crossed by him.
The Season 7 finale dumped a big question mark over this, however, after Daryl found one of Dwight’s hand carvings with the words “Didn’t Know” scrawled on the back. He was last seen in Alexandria while Rick, Maggie and Ezekiel made their address.
Maggie left off with a moving speech about family at the end of Season 7. After having hidden out at the Hilltop for most of the season as she recovered from her ill health, she emerged to join the fight in time for the finale.
She focused her words on family, suggesting that they’d formed from the moment Glenn risked his life for Rick in Atlanta. “That started it all. From Atlanta, to my daddy’s farm, to the prison, to here,” she recounted. “To this moment now. Not as strangers, as family.”
Next season should therefore set about avenging Glenn’s death. And as an audience still reeling from his loss, we definitely want to see retribution. Plus, Maggie is still pregnant with his baby, so there’s still family worth fighting for.
Dwight did some growing in Season 7, and after alienating audiences with his loyalty to Negan and his sickening treatment of Daryl, he’s won fans over. In an episode dedicated to fleshing out his relationship with Sherry, we began to better understand Dwight’s plight.
It’s also given us reason to believe him when he says he’s on Rick’s side. After Sherry went on the lam, Dwight no longer had to do Negan’s bidding as he no longer had to protect her. Having also apparently planted a wooden soldier found by Daryl with the words “Didn’t Know” written on it, will he prove integral in whatever plans Rick may hatch as their man on the inside? He was last seen standing with Simon and Eugene at the Sanctuary as Negan prepared the Saviors for war.
Season 7 has led us to speculate about Eugene’s true loyalties. He seems to be in bed with Negan right now – having ingratiated himself with the Sanctuary’s overlord due to his bullet-making abilities and chemistry know-how.
But there’s got to be more to this. He’s adaptable, and he’s a survivor. We know he can spin a good yarn and make it believable to save his skin. And he did risk his hide first to make a suicide pill meant for Negan, and then to smuggle it in to Sasha.
He’s currently at the Sanctuary, last seen alongside Dwight and Simon during Negan’s address.
After the battle at Alexandria, Negan retreated back to the Sanctuary to rally his troops for war. But he won’t underestimate Rick this time.
He’s showing signs of distrust in Eugene following Sasha’s demise. He asked Eugene how she died, but Eugene’s mind is as quick as his mouth, and he plays the innocent and speculates that she ran out of air. “Maybe,” Negan replied.
He could yet fall victim to Eugene’s smart mind. That, or Shiva the tiger. Or Rick, who promised Negan that he’s going to kill him.
We last saw Cyndie thanking Tara for what their group was doing — fighting the Saviors. Chief Oceansider Natania refused to fight alongside Rick and co. and forbade the rest of her Oceanside community from doing so. Rick then took their weapons instead to make sure they were well tooled up for what was to come.
But will we see Cyndie persuade Natania to come around to her way of thinking next season? That can’t be the last we’ve seen of Cyndie and the Oceansiders.
Last seen apparently having fled a bunch of sand walkers, leaving Tara to whatever fate awaited her. Is Heath going to make a crucial comeback in Season 8?
The Walking Dead Season 8 premieres on October 22, 2017 in the U.S. and a day later in the U.K.