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Walking Dead actor says show’s brutality will make sense at the end of this season

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It’s violent for a reason

AMC’s The Walking Dead - Rick Grimes AMC

The first half of The Walking Dead’s seventh season hasn’t been as well received by fans as the cast would have liked, but star Andrew Lincoln says it’ll all make sense by the finale.

[Warning: There are some spoilers regarding casting news.]

Lincoln, who plays Rick Grimes, told Entertainment Weekly that at times, this current season was painful for him to film. After talking to showrunner Scott M. Gimple, however, and filming the final episode, the actor feels more comfortable with the direction they took the show in.

“Rather than just have a very cool exciting buildup to war between between Negan and Rick, he wanted people to want more than that — to really feel that they wanted justice, and then to also acknowledge the cost of what had happened and why they were willing to risk it all again while realizing that they were putting many, many, many lives back in the firing line,” Lincoln said.

The actor added that he now understands why the season had to be so “painful.” According to Lincoln, in order for the final moments of the season to make sense, they had to be as brutal with Negan’s introduction as they could. Following the season premiere, many Walking Dead fans said it had become too mindlessly violent and weren’t interested in returning. Lincoln said fans had to empathize with Grimes and his crew, fighting for their justice alongside the characters.

The second half of the season will focus on Rick, his group and adjacent teams’ war with Negan. Although it’s unclear how the season will end, Jeffrey Dean Morgan confirmed he will be returning for a second season, so don’t expect Negan to go anywhere anytime soon.

The Walking Dead returns for the second half of its seventh season on Sunday, Feb. 12 at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.