The Walking Dead’s seventh season premiered last Sunday and fans were left pretty shocked by a surprising death. While some fans have called it the greatest episode in the series’ history so far, others in the community are calling out the show for taking the violence it’s known for one step too far.
Warning: The following contains spoilers for the season seven premiere of The Walking Dead.
Many fans on different forums and social media commented that although they were used to seeing violence on the show, the scene depicting the gory and sadistic death of Glenn (Steven Yeun) was too much.
“TV violence never gets to me,” one fan commented on Reddit. “I understand it's a TV show and it's all fake, but last Sunday it got to me.”
Another Redditor echoed those thoughts, adding that while gore and violence usually doesn’t get to them after being exposed to so much of it, the scene in question pushed the limits. They wrote that they felt “seriously sick” watching it and nearly had a panic attack watching Glenn’s death.
“I consider myself well versed when it comes to horror and violent movies and shows in general but this was just something else,” they wrote. “I found this episode a too disturbing even for TWD standards.”
It’s not just fans of the series that were calling it out for its grotesque portrait of murder, either. Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who plays Negan on the show, told USA Today that he didn’t think they needed to include closeups of the gore, adding that it was “a lot of violence.”
“I think the shots that were really creepy were where you couldn’t exactly see what was going on except for the silhouette of Negan with the bat coming down, with the blood flying,” Morgan said. “I don’t know if you need to see the closeup gore of it all. It’s a lot.
In an essay for Vulture, television critic Matt Zoller Seitz criticized the show for relying on an empty use of over-the-top violence in order to shock fans. Seitz wrote that The Walking Dead had begun to sacrifice story for shocking gore, calling it a “fourth-rate zombie movie stretched out over 83 hours.”
“The brutality was nearly eroticized, with loving inserts of the villain’s bloody weapon, lingering images of hostages’ tearful, terrified faces and low-angled shots that made Negan loom like a conquering badass hero,” Seitz said.
Longtime fans on Twitter also complained about the episode, saying that it was too gratuitous with its take on Glenn’s death. Some fans said that after seven seasons, they were ready to walk away from the show because of the premiere.
I've been a fan of @WalkingDead_AMC since the beginning but tonight's episode was TOO violent, TOO gratuitous, TOO punishing. I'm out.— Brad Alexander (@bradlib) October 24, 2016
Way too violent. You know ppl will die, but way too much for me. @WalkingDead_AMC— Laura Currie Ryder (@CurrieRyder) October 24, 2016
Not all fans feel this way, however, with some responding that the show has always been violent. One fan on Reddit said that they were amazed people were still getting upset about the episode when the show’s premise has been rooted in violence since it first premiered in 2010.
“The scene was brutal but it amazes me how many people have become crazy about it even after we have seen literally dozens of zombies getting their skulls smashed in over the course of 6 seasons,” they wrote.
It’s not a conversation that’s gone unnoticed by The Walking Dead team, either. Director Greg Nicotero told The Hollywood Reporter that they knew it was going to be extremely violent, but that’s what they were going for. Negan, he argued, is one of the most despicable and vile villains that the group of survivors have come across and it was important to the team to depict him as such.
“I remember sitting next to Steven when I read the 100th issue and talking with him and Robert about it and to me what struck me was that it was horrifically graphic, senseless and brutal,” Nicotero said. “I wanted to try and capture those moments.
“We felt it was important to launch us into the season to show what Negan is capable of doing. That drives so much of where the series is going from here on in. … Yeah, it's graphic and horrible.”
This season will focus primarily on Negan and his relationship with Rick and his family of survivors, so don’t expect it to become any less gruesome anytime soon. The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.