The Walking Dead: Imagery from the season 7 premiere

Stephen Vining. The Walking Dead. AMC.
Stephen Vining. The Walking Dead. AMC. /

The season premiere of The Walking Dead was brutal, but it also contained some stunning imagery that adds an even deeper level to the events.

The reason the world is in the situation that it finds itself on The Walking Dead is because of whatever caused humans to turn into walkers when they die or when they are bitten. At first the walkers caused panic and fear. People watched their loved ones be devoured by the monsters that were created by the bites and the fever that took someone else’s loved ones or maybe even their own.

The survivors had quite a bit to process. The loss of their homes, their comforts, the everyday schedules and luxuries. They had to face the permanence of the situation. At some point they had to face that nobody was going to come in and put things back to normal. They would not be returning to their normal life.

These losses are great enough, but they were just the beginning. They would not only lose their homes and their comforts, they would start to lose their families and their safety. They would lose their privacy and their security. They would need to learn new skills. They would start to lose their sense of right and wrong.

Everything they knew about manners and morality and humanity would be turned upside down. They would be drained and exhausted and depleted and be expected to make decisions in this state of exhaustion and grief. Decisions that would have huge consequences.

They would be forced to grieve while moving and fighting and surviving. And not just grieve one loss, but loss after loss after loss.

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The walkers a constant reminder of what they were fighting and what they couldn’t escape and what caused the grief in the first place. What caused the change of behavior in humans that are no longer behaving like humans.

Some of the imagery in the premiere beautifully reminded us that even though Negan took center stage, the walkers are still the reason that Negan has a stage. They were there in the fog-ever present.

These two images are very peaceful images. Both Rick and Sasha are using the walkers to rest. There is no place to rest in the apocalypse. They are forced to rest where and when they can.

Sasha found peace and privacy among the dead walkers when she was grieving and didn’t want to talk to people. Even though there were comfortable homes and designer sofas inside the walls of Alexandria, there were also people. Lots of people. Loud, inquisitive, intrusive people. Busy people who were busy bodies. The walkers were quiet and didn’t want to know how she was doing.

Rick was in the middle of a horrific experience after the brutal beating of 2 of his friends. He knew that the rest of the group was on its knees still. He had some quick decisions to make. He was assessing this Negan character. What was the right play? How could he act submissive? How could he just back down to this man? How did this happen? How did he get his people into this situation?

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He took his brief rest where he could. On the top of the RV. He could breathe for just a split second. He didn’t have to posture. He didn’t have to fight. He could rest. It was quiet. He could try to gain some perspective for a moment before he had to act again.  The walkers were still reaching for him though. Still reminding him that he couldn’t rest for too long.

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The hanging walker was a beautiful image to me. Again the walker fingers wiggling and reaching for Rick. Fingers always reaching like the fingers in the door of the hospital cafeteria back in Atlanta. The walkers always want you to join them in death. Always want you to feed them.

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But the walkers don’t have intention. They aren’t evil. When I saw Rick jump for the walker it was almost like the walkers were on his side. They were less dangerous and less vicious than Negan. Negan came at you with malice in him. The walkers came at you because they were hungry. The walkers are to be pitied. Negan deserves no pity.

We have arrived at a time when the walkers seemed the easier and more manageable threat to Rick than Negan. The walkers had been a threat for a long time now, but they had not broken Rick. They had not tortured him for play. They had not abused him psychologically.

Rick was hanging onto the walker for dear life. Clinging to the walker as the better option. But Negan killed those walkers. Destroyed Rick’s better option. I know he saved Rick from the walkers. But Rick has always been able to save himself from the walkers. The walkers couldn’t save him now.

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Poor walker in the rear view mirror (Stephen Vining) collapsed into his meal reflecting the emotional state of  Rick and the group now lost with little left to sustain them. The survivors just as weak and dejected as the walkers. We are the walking dead even more fitting now.

Next: Highlighting Season 6 Walkers

The walkers always have an important role to play in the show. Negan may have changed things dramatically for our show and our survivors, but he can never change that the world is the way it is because of the walkers.

The Walking Dead may be brutal and dark. But it is still beautiful and haunting and poetic as well.