It’s fair to say that The Walking Dead has always perhaps been a polarizing show, while there is no denying the overwhelming popularity of AMC’s zombie horror, the show has fallen on some tough times with the faltering reception from audiences throughout the first half of its seventh season. There are a number of reasons that could theoretically be attributed to the consistent decline in ratings, such as the bold decision to brutally murder fan favourites Abraham and Glenn, (Especially Glenn, a member of the group since the very first episodes of Season 1) as well as the admittedly frustrating episode structure, focusing solely on a handful of members from one particular group, or focusing on characters we’ve hardly spent any time with, and have little emotional investment in.
The most recognised reason that crops up though is the pacing. Since Negan’s explosive introduction and the unrelenting intensity of the season premiere, the show has inevitably taken the slow route as we have established new communities, characters and endured the unfamiliar situation of Rick and the group being completely thrown out of power by Negan and his Saviours. The audience perception has definitely changed as we have witnessed Rick Grimes and Co being bullied, tormented and tortured for a solid 8 episodes, having to settle on seeing fan favourites more sporadically, and in a position of constant weakness.
Things certainly looked more promising towards the back-end of the Mid Season Finale with Rick finally being spurred into action after Negan had killed two more of his own and threatened his community with more of the same. The reunion with Daryl and his signature revolver was the icing on the cake and the final moments of the episode saw the group in high spirits as they made their way forward. Andrew Lincoln has since added fuel to the flames in his most recent interview.
Speaking with EW, Lincoln spoke about how the back eight of Season 7 was shaping up to be a far cry from what we had seen in the first half on the season. He was full of optimism and reassurance as he commented:
“It’s probably the opposite of what you just witnessed. Certainly from Rick’s point of view. You see a man in action again with some of the members of his closest family. There’s a lot more levity, if you can believe that, than you’ve ever seen before in Mr. Grimes. There’s sort of a freedom in him, a feeling that comes from losing everything, and also the thrill of the fight. It’s the thrill of the fight again. He’s back in. All I’m saying is that the band is back together.
There are several episodes that I loved being involved in and it certainly feels very much more like a show that I knew and recognised in the back eight. I loved the episodes that I was in. It’s the Magnificent Seven in the back half. Rather, the magnificent eight episodes. Wait till [episode] 16. I promise you, there is one beat in 16, I dropped my script and started punching the air and did a little jig.”
Now it’s worth mentioning that cast members have exaggerated before when commenting on the show and what’s to come, but Lincoln has always been one of the more straight up examples when talking about developments in the Walking Dead. It wouldn’t be a wise move to give fans this life line only to disappoint them in the long run and so these comments should be a reassurance to most who had given up the show after the first half of the season.
The Walking Dead returns February 12th on AMC and Fox.
Image credit: AMC