We’ve had months to wait and speculate. We’ve spent hours commiserating with other fans about how the last few moments of Season 6 played out. Now it’s finally time for The Walking Dead to return for its seventh season on AMC.
Despite all the frustration over cliffhangers and fear about who will end up dying this season, many fans are still at least a little bit excited for the premiere. That’s because we’ve been kept in the dark about many of the newest season’s big plot points. AMC has teased us with clips of Negan, as well as other potential new allies and foes for Rick and his friends. But they haven’t given very much away as of yet — especially when it comes to the first episode. Here’s everything we know so far about the seventh season premiere of The Walking Dead.
[Update, 10/24/16: Read about everything we learned from the season 7 premiere of ‘The Walking Dead’ here!]
1. We’ll finally learn who Negan killed
Last April, when the credits rolled on Season 6 and we all sat in stunned horror — and annoyance — it seemed like we’d never find out who was at the other end of Negan’s barbed wire baseball bat. But now, the time has finally come to learn, once and for all, who was taking it like a champ despite his or her impending death.
The Walking Dead‘s creator Robert Kirkman, executive producer Scott Gimple, and pretty much every cast member have all promised that we’ll learn who Negan killed in the season premiere. And we won’t have to wait long to find out either — because the season premiere starts right where the sixth season left off.
2. It’s going to be brutal
If the blood trickling down the camera lens and the muffled, horrified screams of witnesses didn’t clue you in, being bludgeoned by a barbed wire baseball bat is definitely a terrible way to go out. The closing moments of The Walking Dead‘s sixth season let us see Negan’s brutality from the perspective of his victim. The Season 7 premiere will give us, the fans, a chance to witness it from an outsider’s perspective — and see how truly awful it is.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who plays the bat-wielding villain, hasn’t minced words about how violent the death scene is — he’s called it “gut-wrenching” and says it will be “a lot more than people are expecting.” Given how exceedingly gruesome many past The Walking Dead sequences have been, it’s safe to say that if we’re being warned this openly about the premiere, we should probably prepare ourselves for the worst.
3. Rick and Negan get to know each other
Because there’s such a cone of silence around the big premiere reveal, we’ve seen little promotional footage from the actual episode so far. However, AMC did release an exclusive clip when The Walking Dead cast attended New York Comic Con. It features a shell-shocked Rick — clearly in the immediate aftermath of watching his friend die — and an exceedingly cocky Negan. Rick is defiant, and tells Negan that he’s already planning to kill him someday. Negan is likewise unwilling to yield, and — weapon in hand — drags Rick into his trailer for a one-on-one chat about his new world order. This is likely the first of many confrontations between the two; it also hints that Rick himself may face Negan’s wrath directly before the premiere is over.
4. The title is a total throwback
The Walking Dead‘s creators love to give episodes names that will resonate with fans. Titles like “Too Far Gone” and “JSS” make episodes instantly recognizable because they not only describe the whole story, but they symbolize a significant moment within it. The Season 7 premiere title goes one step further, referring back to a moment early in the series. It’s called “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be,” and that’s likely a reference to a conversation Rick had way back in Season 1. Right before leaving the Center for Disease Control, Rick expressed his gratitude to Jenner for saving his and his friends’ lives — and Jenner responded with those exact words. It’s safe to say that the “day” in question is the one in which Rick watches one of his friends die by Negan’s hand.
5. The premiere will change the course of The Walking Dead forever
There have been a few moments that really defined The Walking Dead as a series: from the opening scene, where Rick shot an adorable child zombie in bunny slippers, to Carol’s Rambo-style takedown of Terminus in Season 5. Many of The Walking Dead‘s cast and crew are promising that the Season 7 premiere will be just as important and unforgettable.
According to Norman Reedus, the first episode initiates a huge change in the series’ direction. During a visit to The Tonight Show, he told Jimmy Fallon that the premiere signals “a whole new beginning” and that everything will feel different. He also hinted that many of the characters we’ve grown to love — Daryl included, we can only assume — will begin the season “vulnerable and victimized.” In other words, the suffering is just getting started.
The Walking Dead‘s seventh season premieres October 23 at 9 p.m. on AMC.
Follow Katherine Webb on Twitter @prufrox