REVIEW: Season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead disgusted me
FOR years I've loved The Walking Dead.
I've enjoyed almost every episode and there have been some hard ones to watch.
But last season I felt the series lost its way a little, culminating in failure to show who had fallen victim to Negan in the season finale.
Please stop reading now if you don't want to read any spoilers.
This past six months I've been fuming over the decision, because it wasn't a surprise by the time I saw the deaths.
It has been known for months that Abraham and Glenn were the ones on the chopping block, so the scenes were devoid of any surprise for me. Which probably left more room for horror and revulsion.
Now that I've seen the big reveal, I can honestly say it left me feeling disgusted, disturbed and demoralised.
I think they were right not to show us at the end of last season and I wish I hadn't seen it now.
Here are the five big moments that left me questioning whether I could ever watch the show again.
1. The failure to reveal who the victims were straight up.
First the makers of the show clearly wanted to build up suspense again before launching into the killing blows.
So we start out on some bizarre goose chase with Rick, who looks dazed, confused, weary and grief-stricken - but none of that has the impact it should because we don't know what has happened.
2. The confusing flashbacks that gratuitously show Negan having a crack at just about everybody's heads. Was this necessary?
Or just another way of torturing and titillating the audience?
I don't know. All I know is it made me angry, not nervous. I knew they were hardly going to kill off the whole cast and I had a fair idea of who was dying, so it seemed utterly pointless.
3. The death of Abraham.
This is someone whose story I'm emotionally invested in.
It's not someone who should be used for gratuitous horror.
Abraham was reduced from a person to a device.
I know there are people at home who have been looking forward to seeing Lucille in action.
Surely even they were a little shocked by the mindless violence of the first death.
4. But if I thought I was sickened and horrified by Abraham's death, that was nothing compared to Glenn.
Glenn with his eye jutting out, telling Maggie he would find her.
If I'm emotionally invested in Abraham's story and horrified by how it turned out, then I don't have the words to describe how I feel about Glenn and the way he died.
Especially since the show had already given Glenn a fake death then miraculously resurrected him not too long ago.
The combination of the fake-out and then the horror of Glenn's actual death - I honestly couldn't feel more disgusted with the show if I tried.
To relentlessly deploy device after the device, to toy with people's emotions - that is not good story-telling.
That is the act of show that doesn't have integrity anymore and any cheap thrill can therefore be used to try to keep an audience.
Part of the reason I loved the first five seasons is that each death, while tragic and horrible, seemed to honour that character.
Lori died sacrificing herself so Judith could be born.
T-Dogg died saving Carol.
Bob was able to tell those he loved how much he cared about them before his death.
None of the deaths of the beloved characters seemed pointless - each was felt by the group, some hurt the group indescribably, but each person killed along the way was honoured.
Even when the death seemed arbitrary - like Beth's - it reminded us how much these characters loved each other, how they mourned for each other.
To kill Abraham is such a gratuitous way - almost for fun, if Negan's manner was anything to go by - was bad enough.
But to do it to Glenn, the little brother of the show, the kid who has dodged death, who loves Maggie, who has so much to live for - I hated it.
To treat Glenn's death like it was just an "iconic moment" or some kind of sideshow carnival act was a betrayal of the show I have known and loved.
It felt like the creators of this show wanted us to enjoy seeing Lucille in action in some cartoonish fashion, perhaps forgetting that its core audience was invested in the survival of Rick's group, not in seeing a Negan killing spree.
That might be the most offensive thing of all - the feeling that they somehow wanted me to like it.
After all, most of us aren't psychopaths who enjoy seeing someone's head be bludgeoned into nothing, especially people we've come to love.
To add to the pain, Maggie's reaction to the horror of her husband's death was focussed upon to the degree where it seems the show has almost become torture porn.
5. The moment Rick is told to cut off his son's arm.
I can't imagine why this was included in a premiere that had already pushed the boundaries of what most consider acceptable.
It's ironic that Negan can't swear because of TV restrictions, but smashing someone's head in or threatening to cut a boy's arm off is fine.
Negan doesn't strike me as the type that would change his mind, but for some reason he does, a decision that felt disingenuous even as I breathed a sigh of relief.
Maybe those who make this show felt they had gone far enough.
But those moments where I thought Rick would have to do it would have been among the most horrific the show has portrayed if the preceding hour had not already prepared me for the worst.
Was this really necessary after two men had their heads bashed in by a barbed wire-covered baseball bat?
You be the judge.
I know I'm not alone in how I feel about this episode.
Hundreds of others have taken to Twitter declaring they will not what the show again after that.
As many know, I am fascinated by the idea of the zombie apocalypse.
People enjoy watching this show for the science fiction, the relationships that have been forged, the struggle to rebuild the world.
We already know that people are often far more dangerous than walkers in The Walking Dead.
But to treat the characters that we love with disdain, to treat them like it's acceptable to kill them off so fanboys can laugh to themselves about Lucille and Negan...well, that doesn't satisfy me. It makes me angry and disappointed.
I want to tune in next week and see the show redeem itself.
But it's a long way back from this.