Along with seventeen million other people, I watched the premiere on Sunday night. I was shocked that we lost two main characters in the same night, and Glenn's death struck me much harder than Abraham's. The camera stayed on him so long...with that eye just bulging out...and saying, "Maggie, I will find you." As if somehow those two could be happy in an afterlife, because the world of The Walking Dead is so cruel.
Negan as a villain is a game-changer for the series. Nothing will ever be the same. Rick's a broken man, Maggie will be ruminating over the death of Glenn for the rest of her life, and the others will have PTSD at seeing their friends bludgeoned to death in front of them by a maniac with a barbed wire baseball bat.
However, I didn't like the way the showrunners handled the introduction of Negan. I think putting all of this into the last season would have been a much better storytelling play. The premiere just seemed to drag on and on and on. It's like The Walking Dead decided to heavily troll its very loyal (and powerful) audience, which smacks of a television show taking its viewers "for granted."
That being said, there are hundreds of articles already written about the season seven premiere. I want to point out that there's always a disconnect between when critics think a show is no longer conveying a meaningful message and when viewers grow tired of it. I consider myself a viewer and not a critic and yes, the show had me on the edge of my seat, frustrated that it was taking soooo long to figure out who Negan killed, and it will have absolutely no impact on whether or not I continue to watch as that is a given. I have to see the new characters, the leader of the Kingdom, and his tiger companion. That will be just too cool.
I have to believe after watching all of this brutality and seeing characters I get emotionally invested in get destroyed, that there is an endgame plan. I want it to be some kind of conclusion that offers a glimmer of hope, where humanity overcomes an insurmountable apocalyptic situation. I also know though that Kirkman (the creator of the comic book) has said this is a really long story. So whatever ends up happening, we won't know for many years to come. And if the premiere is any kind of foreshadowing, there is much more darkness to come before things start to improve.