PREVIEW: The Walking Dead Season 7 returns

A scene from The Walking Dead, Season 7.
A scene from The Walking Dead, Season 7.

With The Walking Dead about to return from its mid-season break, the speculation is almost over for fans after a tense wait.

When we last saw our survivors, Negan was reigning over them, causing more misery as two of Rick's group were killed, and another captured.

Rick finally got his act together and is ready to wage war against Negan, ridding the world of the villain once and for all. But how will this affect the second half of the season?

The official synopsis for the second half of the season confirms the group are indeed 'preparing for war and gathering the supplies and numbers to take Negan down once and for all. They'll go about building up their numbers by approaching both the Kingdom and the Hilltop, but we'll also see new survivors in incredible places and treachery from people we trust'.

This raises even more speculation as to what the future holds, and further mysteries, such as how the community Tara found in episode six will play into everything, are yet to be solved.

There also the other mini dilemmas to look forward to, including the fate of Heath, who went missing in episode six, who the mysterious starnger watching the surivors is, and how Negan will react when he realises Daryl has escaped.

Rick looks perplexed.

Rick looks perplexed.

We also have other things to hype up, such as the meeting of Rick and Ezekiel, seen in the trailer for the second half of the season.

Season 7 returns UK screens on Fox on Monday, February 13, at 9pm.

For those who missed the last two episodes before the break, here's a recap.

Hearts Still Beating: For a mid-season finale, it was certainly packed full of various events and happenings.

Rick and Aaron on the zombie-infested lake.

Rick and Aaron on the zombie-infested lake.

Firstly, the smaller parts of the episode. While we haven't seen the King himself for a while, one of Ezekiel's main guard Richard visited Carol just after Morgan did, filling them in on how the deal between Negan and Ezekiel started as well as exposition on Richard himself and his subsequent family involving their deaths.

While it's a nice check in on these characters, particularly Morgan and Carol, this section boiled down to Richard trying to encourage the two of them to stand up to Negan and get Ezekiel involved with the movement. The one major issue I have with checking in with this side of the story line is that nobody has actually been asking where Morgan and Carol are. Rick and the rest of the group are completely unaware of Ezekiel's safe zone the Kingdom, but not one of them have asked w here their friends are, and while they have been caught up in a lot, I do think at least one question would have been asked by now.

Another small segment was a small jump over to the Hilltop to see Maggie presumably awaiting people, or just perhaps looking out for threats. This small clip was purely to show an interaction with Gregory, with him desperately trying to hold on the leadership position while Enid and Sasha stuck with Maggie and admitted she should lead the community.

Another important point of the episode was us seeing the escape of Daryl from Negan's compound the Sanctuary. He escaped the clutches of the evil song (although I quite like it) Easy Street being blasted into his cell and stole some clothes, ate out of a jar and destroyed a chess suit which I believe was his rival Dwight's homemade set. And while on his way out, in his attempt to steal a motorbike he ran into Saviour Far Joey, who didn't exactly have a pleasant interaction with him I shall say. Daryl met up with Jesus and escaped, and we now have him back with our core group again!

One particularly interesting storyline was Rick and Aaron searching for supplies to give to Negan. They have followed warning signs to a boat in the middle of a zombie-filled lake. Something that I always love about The Walking Dead is how they cleverly always make the zombies a threat but spice it up, in this case particularly water-logged ones.

Things were even more tense when Aaron fell in the water (because somebody had to of course) and we guessed at his demise, only to be reassured he was OK.

As a result of this task, Rick and Aaron were rewarded with a stash of guns, true there was no ammo for them but the find was still good. While they explored the boat however, a mysterious stranger was seen to be observing them, although all we could see of this person were their shoes. They also appeared at the end of the episode, watching Alexandria. Perhaps this person could be the girl who helped Tara in episode six, an old face we haven't seen in several seasons or perhaps a completely new character never seen before?

The main focus of the episode however was Negan. Of course, Negan. Waiting on Rick's return to Alexandria, he settled in. Finally shaving and looking even more like the comics show him off to be, Negan cooked for Carl and Olivia, setting himself up to be some sort of head of the family. While he waited, Spencer approached and the two bonded over drinks, all highly amusing scenes. This lead to the playing of pool out on the streets, with a crowded gathered to watch them at the table before Spencer declares to Negan that Rick should not be leader anymore. This leads to not only a moment of the show, but definitely one of the more memorable moments of the comic. We do indeed find out that Spencer has guts….

Afterwards, Rosita takes it upon herself to attempt to shoot Negan at point blank range, missing him and taking a small chunk out of his bat Lucille. While this was an epic moment, missing at such a range is quite surprising and since it is Carl who delivers this blow in the comics (from a greater range too), this happening isn't as impactful here in the show - although nonetheless still amazing

As a result, of course, somebody dies, thankfully just a minor character but it still easily shows off the speed and brutality Negan brings to the show. And while it is true after the first episode of the series it might be a good while before we see any main character deaths, it doesn't seem to have stopped the creators happily killing off lots more secondary people.

Sing Me A Song: This episode primarily focused on where we last saw Carl, and how he interacts with Negan. We also saw some of Rick and Aaron although it seems like Rick is genuinely set on working for Negan and not forming any sort of response to him, but that's the only assumption we can gather from the brief moments we see him.

Coming back to the main point, Negan and Carl at the Sanctuary was hugely interesting. We see Carl really stepping up in an attempt to kill Negan, and see the “respect” Negan commands with a deeper insight on members of the Sanctuary bowing down to him, as well as his many wives and the iron, which he uses to burn half a man's face. As a comic book fan, this whole episode was about 95 per cent straight from page to screen and it was fantastic to watch.

Getting a good insight on Negan in perhaps his most insane mannerisms yet will likely further divide fans who are either loving the show even more or those who now seem to be going off Walking Dead completely. He makes Carl reveal his injury as punishment for his dead men as well as sing him a song while he practices with Lucille. And while I love all Negan scenes, it's the truly unique ones like these I look forward to the most.

And then having Negan discover baby Judith who has been seemingly absent this season was both weird in how he was with her but also terrifying as to what he might do. Rick's reaction when he sees Negan casually sitting with his two children next episode will be priceless.

Sing Me A Song was a brilliant episode and while I could criticise for the show almost directly adapting the comics, however there is still some ingenuity in how everything is brought over and the portrayals of the characters, especially one of my favourites in Negan. This episode leads nicely onto the midseason finale and I'm sure will be a blast.