Less than two weeks to go until the season 7 premiere, and whoever is in charge of The Walking Dead PR seems to be working overtime, going all out with the publicity to make us forget all about the clusterf*ck that was the controversial (because yes, some people actually liked the cliffhanger) season 6 finale.

As much as I want to hold a grudge, I can’t really hate on TWD for too long. They seem to be going out of their way to convince us that the show reinvents itself every 8 episodes, so I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and hit the reset button, because frankly, I just want to enjoy my favorite zombie show and not constantly remind myself that yeah, that last episode was a cheap cop-out that made me want to hurl stuff at my TV.

Also, it’s hard to stay mad at them when they give us this extended cut of a closeup on Andy Lincoln’s beautiful, scruffy, blood-spattered face.

So what do we think of the latest preview clip?

Everything we know about the show so far suggests that our favorite group of zombie apocalypse survivors are pretty despondent after the devastating head-bashing at the hands of Negan, but will never submit to their tormentor without a few attempts at sounding ominous while delivering death threats. But does the clip offer any new insight on who the unlucky soul at the receiving end of Lucille even was?

Judging from the blood spatter on Andy’s right cheek, it seems fair to assume that whoever got their skull bashed in was kneeling on his right hand side.

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Unless the carefully placed smear was a sticky, blood-red herring, this probably means that the person who met their untimely end by way of barb-wire bat was none other than our friendly ginger soldier, Abraham, because I seriously doubt that even TWD would have the balls to off a pregnant woman.

Although the clip by no means negates the popular theory that Negan killed off two people rather than just one – they’re known for trying to trick us with previews for a while now, including that Dwight-wearing-Daryl’s-angel-wings shot, the group’s kneeling positions plus Negan’s quips about his ‘right hand man’ seem to clearly point towards poor Abe. Comic book readers have already been diligent in reminding us that he escaped his fate when Denise took that arrow to the eye, thus cheating (comic book) death at least once before.

But what about the other character who’s been cheating death for an entire season? If TWD is intent of following the books to a T when it comes to Negan, it seems only fair that Glen would finally meet his gut-wrenching end on the Season 7 premiere.

If everyone on the internet is right, this double whammy would serve the dual purpose of appeasing the book fans while also offering an unexpected (…) twist. Win-win in terms of providing a surprise element – that is, if you’ve been living under a rock for the past six months or so.

The dialogue in the preview seems to confirm this theory, too. Who but Glen and/or Abraham could possibly be considered as Rick’s right hand men? Daryl would be the obvious answer, but Daryl is more like a brother to Rick, thereby elevated to equal (except different) leadership status. But again, they wouldn’t dare kill the fan favorite any more than they’d kill off Maggie, would they?

My takeaway from the preview clip is that Negan is being quite literal. Let me rephrase that: the show is trying to convince us that they’re being quite literal. Rick just lost his number two, but that’s not enough to keep him in line. After all, the first words he utters to Negan once the bloodbath is over are “I’m gonna kill you” (and, although I’m sure the Negan/Rick and Saviors/Alexandrians conflict will be spectacular, I kinda wish they’d fast forward to Rick killing Negan in a spectacular manner). Clearly Rick needs to be kept in line. What better way to keep the group leader in check than to remove not just his right hand man/men, but also his right hand, Jaime Lannister-style, with his own hatchet, no less? It would be a nice homage to the comic books and yet another devastating blow to neutralize our group.

Except the reason they chose to exclude this plot device since season 3 is still valid, isn’t it? I mean these guys spend a good chunk of their budget on post production anyway, and Rick is in pretty much every single scene, so do they really want to contend with digitally erasing his hand all the time? They already have a tiger to keep the CGI department busy this season.

As much as I’d appreciate their cojones if they did chop off Rick’s hand, as well as the right-off-the-bat portrayal of Negan as a vicious, relentless tour de force that can drag Rick off to the RV one-handed, I have a feeling this is yet another red herring, the hatchet looped into Negan’s belt is just symbolic of his triumph over Rick & co, and they’d just end up cutting to a scene where Negan “negotiates” his terms with the Alexandrians’ leader. Besides, if this display of power on behalf of Negan is all about teaching our group a lesson, would he really do it in the confines of the RV instead of making a spectacle out of the whole thing?

Whatever they decide to do, at this point I’m mostly just curious about Negan’s joke referenced in the clip. Sure, making light of a situation where you just bashed in one or more heads with a bat would be in bad taste IRL, but this is TWD. If Negan won’t be dropping f-bombs in every sentence, they might as well give him a few funny lines. Especially if we won’t have Abraham’s one-liners to keep us entertained any more.

Whichever direction TWD chooses to go regarding the imminent death(s) and Rick’s possible mutilation, I guess I’m fine with it. I’ve had a few months to cool off since my – reasonable, I believe – outrage at the Season 6 finale, and I’m ready to wipe the slate clean and get invested in the New World Order that is the saviors’ supremacy in the months to come. Rooting for our group to bounce back is one thing we’ve been well trained to do throughout the long TWD run, so I’ll just stick to what I know and keep counting down the days until the season premiere.

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