Nora Dominick ’17/ Emertainment Monthly Executive Stage Editor
On Saturday, The Walking Dead producers and stars descended on Madison Square Garden to chat all things season seven at New York Comic Con. Moderated by Talking Dead host Chris Hardwick, The Walking Dead crew dished on filming this horrific season and what’s ahead.
Last season, The Walking Dead ended on a brutal, emotional cliffhanger. The episode found Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and the gang on their knees at the mercy of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). For those fans wondering if the show will pull another fast one and not reveal the victim, executive producer Scott M. Gimple assures fans “You will indeed find out in the season seven premiere.” He tells fans there won’t be another fake out like the end of season six.
Although fans were less than pleased about the epic cliffhanger, The Walking Dead crew says the season premiere brings some amazing performances. Gimple says, “The performances this year are astounding. The actors are the stars this year.” Executive producer and director for the season opener, Greg Nicotero also spoke to the incredible performances this season saying, “Some of the most amazing moments were found not where you’re going to expect them.”
Speaking to the season seven premiere, everyone unanimously seems to agree it was a grueling episode to film. Norman Reedus says he felt utterly powerless while shooting the season six finale and season seven premiere. He says, “I hated doing all that. It was miserable. It sucked, it really did.”
Of course Negan was the main topic at this years NYCC panel. Jeffrey Dean Morgan joined the panel for the first time this year and was enjoying every bit of it. Morgan describes Negan’s level of justice as “Barnum and Bailey.” He continues saying, “This world is his stage and he owns it.”
Fans caught a glimpse of his special brand of justice at the end of season six, but it’s only going to get worse. This is already evident in a new The Walking Dead sneak peak released shortly after their NYCC panel. So, if Negan is that brutal, why does he have so many followers? Morgan answers this saying, “A lot of people follow him out of fear of getting an iron to the face or worse. But he’s also kept a lot of people alive for a long time.”
For fans that thought The Governor (David Morrissey) was bad, Negan redefines the word “villain” for The Walking Dead universe. Danai Gurira jokes, “The Governor was small potatoes compared to Negan.”
Although The Walking Dead panel was dominated by the Negan discussion, the stars did have a chance to discuss their characters. One of the few characters not in Negan’s lineup is Tara (Alanna Masterson). When fans last saw Tara, she went out on a supply run. This season, Tara will be back in the action and fans couldn’t be more thrilled. Masterson is excited to see where Tara goes this season. The one major component of Tara’s storyline will be eventually finding out about Denise (Merritt Weaver). Last season, Denise was shot through the eye with an arrow when out with Daryl and Rosita. Masterson looks ahead saying, “For Tara, I think it’s going to be a really really hard thing to hear about Denise.”
Melissa McBride’s Carol is also far away from the Negan lineup action. When fans last saw her, she was dealing with the death toll that she’s responsible for. Carol and Morgan (Lennie James) will be encountering The Kingdom. McBride speaks to Carol’s internal struggle saying, “We’re becoming the monsters we’re trying to protect ourselves from.” Last season, fans finally saw The Walking Dead life take its toll on Carol and that won’t stop going into season seven. McBride says, “Every step she’s taken up to this moment has just devastated her. She just needs to get her head together.” She adds that Carol needs to ask herself, “What about this world makes us want to survive so much?”
Michael Cudlitz was super excited to discuss Abraham and Sasha’s (Sonequa Martin-Green) relationship at NYCC 2016. He jokes saying, “Look at this woman: strong, confident and beautiful. And look at me.” Meanwhile, Martin-Green says that Abraham is Sasha’s “LAD,” meaning “life after death.” Unlike Abraham’s relationship with Rosita (Christian Serratos), Cudlitz says Abraham’s relationship with Sasha is “not about the rest of the night, it’s about the rest of his life.”
Steven Yeun and Lauren Cohan also spoke about Glenn and Maggie’s relationship on The Walking Dead. Often one of the brighter spots in the show, Glenn and Maggie have not had an easy run of it. Last season alone, Glenn was presumed dead after a heard of walkers attacks meanwhile Maggie is dealing with complications involving her pregnancy. Yeun simply puts it, “Glenn and Maggie are classic.” He continues saying they duo are “badass together.”
Out of all the emotions on The Walking Dead, Cohan seems to be taking the Negan lineup the hardest. Whether this points to who dies, we’ll let you be the judge of that. Cohan speaks to the Negan lineup storyline saying, “The story that comes from this year is insane. We were literally knocked off our feet. To the ground.”
During the NYCC panel, Cohan became so overcome with emotions that she had trouble answering one of Hardwick’s questions. She reflects on all the fan love saying, “This is so much bigger than us.” She continues saying, “You guys [fans] have been on such a huge journey with us.” The Walking Dead has grown past anyones wildest imaginations and Cohan is feeling the love.
Looking even past season seven of The Walking Dead, season eight will begin with episode 100! A major milestone for the comic book show. Over the past six seasons, we’ve lost fan favorite characters and witnessed these characters grow exponentially. Nicotero speaks to the 100th episode approaching saying, “By the end of this season, we will have shot 99 episodes. That’s 99 hours of these people’s lives.” No matter how many walkers we come across, at the end of the day The Walking Dead is about characters and the journey’s they go on.