Did ‘The Walking Dead’ Season 7 Premiere Cross The Line?

The Walking Dead Season 7 premiere finally aired almost a week ago, and the graphic violence has lots of fans saying they will no longer watch the series. Did the episode cross a line? Yes. Was it justified? Was it gratuitous violence, or did it contribute to the story?

While everyone is heartbroken that The Walking Dead killed off Glenn, it isn’t his death that has people upset — it’s how he died. Yes, we all knew that whoever was killed last Sunday would die from taking a beating by Negan’s bat named Lucille, but what has viewers up in arms is the graphic nature of the scene.

We saw Negan hit Glenn the first time. We saw his bloody face. We saw his eye popped out. We saw and heard him talk to Maggie after he was hit. Then we saw another hit and heard the sound of the bat hitting him over and over. It was gruesome, bloody, and stomach-turning. The shot of the ground in the aftermath was even more so. The Walking Dead has always been violent, and there have been plenty of deaths, but it has never been this graphic and gory.

Leading up to the premiere of Season 7, Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman and the cast warned that it was an episode that was difficult to create and would be equally difficult to watch. They all warned that it was emotionally exhausting. They said that the long wait to see how the Season 6 cliffhanger ended would be worth it, but it would also be upsetting. They said it would be very emotional for viewers, and they were right. But was the only point of graphic nature of the most heartbreaking Walking Dead episode to date to make us cry?

Robert Kirkman said this to Entertainment Weekly about why Glenn had to die.

“It’s just that there’s a lot of material that comes from Glenn’s death in the comics. And while we do try to change things up to keep things interesting for the audience, and for me, this is one that there’s so much that comes from Rick, there’s so much with Negan, because that character is someone that he killed, and definitely Maggie is someone that kind of gets put on the trajectory that affects a great number of stories and a great number of characters moving forward. So it was kind of essential that that part of the scene at least remained intact, unfortunately.”

The Walking Dead creator has also previously described how he wanted this episode to be especially affecting because it’s a turning point for the show. The entry of Negan into the story changes Rick’s world as we’ve known it so far, and it was important for this episode to be more extreme than Walking Dead has previously been in order to act as a sort of marker in the timeline. It serves as a division between the time when Rick and his clan fought and prevailed against a variety of opposition and a world in which Negan owns everyone and everything.

In another interview with Entertainment Weekly, Kirkman described it this way.

“It really changes things. It’s not just a death, it’s a fundamental shift in their outlook on this world that’ll change everything.”

So was it justified? Well, if the intent was to change the Walking Dead world and the context of the story into something we’ve haven’t seen in the last six seasons, I’d say they accomplished that. This episode was like nothing we’ve seen from TWD. Could it have been accomplished without the gore? Possibly. Was it gratuitous? For it to be gratuitous, it would have to have no point and would have to not accomplish anything. It seems it accomplished a great deal. It shook up fans in a way Walking Dead has not done before. And it certainly hit home (no pun intended) exactly what Negan is capable of and the seriousness of the situation in which Rick and his clan have found themselves.

So maybe The Walking Dead could have found another way to show the shift in the world of the zombie apocalypse. The way they chose to do it was gory. It was graphic. But it was also powerful and affecting — an experience no one will forget.

[Featured Image by AMC]