SPOILERS follow for anyone who hasn’t caught up with the Season 7 premiere of AMC’s The Walking Dead.
If you’re among the many who caught the Season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead last night, you almost certainly have a few feelings today. (How are you holding up?) If you watched the episode but haven’t read Evan Valentine‘s recap, you can do that right here. It’ll bring you up to speed and remind you of the awful events that transpired during the premiere.
After The Walking Dead, AMC’s conversational companion series Talking Dead–hosted by a rain-soaked Chris Hardwick in the midst of a rare Los Angeles thunderstorm–featured a number of cast and crew members who responded to the premiere in front of a massive live audience. Appearing on stage were comic book writer Robert Kirkman and showrunner Scott M. Gimple, alongside cast members Lauren Cohan, Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Steven Yeun, Michael Cudlitz, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and more. We’ve gathered their quotes below to help you come to terms with all the violence and death.
First up, via EW, Kirkman and Gimple revealed that they’d come up with the traumatic events of the premiere about two years ago:
“I think the hardest thing about it was thinking while starting the script, ‘Well, what would break Rick?’” said Gimple. “It was all in the book, in issue 100. But looking for a way to break the audience too. Not in a way that is in any way to hurt them, but for them to believe that Rick Grimes would be under the thumb of Negan. That he would go through an experience that would do that to him. That the audience would go through the experience too, so that they would believe that Rick could do what this guy says.”
One of the things Negan ordered Rick to do was cut off his own son’s hand, which mercifully he did not. Kirkman, however, teased that some version of that might still come to pass:
“There were a lot of variations of that that were discussed, and, you know, we’re not ruling it out for the future.”
Kirkman continued by addressing the heart-breaking double murder perpetrated by Negan during the premiere:
“I think more than anything, the introduction of Negan, as heartbreaking as it is and as gut-wrenching as it is, was really to just set the stage in a way of saying, you know, this show, this story isn’t going anywhere,” said Kirkman. “We still have a lot more to do. We’re setting the stage for a lot more to come. There is so much that comes out of this scene that has to be resolved. We felt like, as many years as we’ve been doing this, we wanted to send a clear message that we are just getting started and there is a lot that is going to be coming from this.”
The cast got a chance to respond to the deaths as well. THR had Cohan’s response to the tragic death of both Glenn and Abraham:
“It’s changed the dynamic for us on the show and what will come this season. The gravity of losing these two has galvanized us and has had such a crazy effect on all of us. I think we can all say after shooting that episode that it was a whole new frontier for us. Michael and Steven both being such pillars in the show … [and] the responsibility left for everyone else is to uphold the lessons learned from [Negan] and the love, strength and structure they created.”
And as for Glenn’s final words to Maggie:
“Time and place doesn’t erase that. [It means] I’ll find you; I’ll be with you; I’ll watch over you and the baby; I’ll be there.”
Yeun himself got to weigh in on his character and the manner in which he exited the show:
“Glenn died in a very Glenn way … still not thinking about himself. It’s appropriate that he ends there and also appropriate that he puts those last words out as a final look out for each other.”
EW had more from Yeun’s appearance on Talking Dead. Here’s how he broke down the decision to follow in the comic book’s footsteps:
“Personally for me, I think the death in the comic, Robert wrote such a messed up but at the same time incredible way to take something away — to make a story as impactful as it is. You read that comic, you kind of don’t want that to go to anyone else. It’s such an iconic moment and I think I even said, ‘Don’t give that to anybody else.’ It’s such a gnarly thing to say but sincerely, living that out was very wild but at the same time, that moment happening and being realized on television in a different medium and to do it in the way that we did it I think is brave and at the same time super affecting. And for me, that was the motivation to be like, ‘Yeah, that sounds great.’”
Yeun also had a chance to reflect back on his time spent on the ground-breaking show:
“I’ve had so many wonderful experiences with everybody,” he said. “I think what’s cool is that I didn’t watch this episode until about a week before. And going in, you’re like ‘Yeah, I know what happens. I’ve seen it. I lived it. I did. It’s going to do what it’s going to do.’ But watching it you realize the way [Scott M. Gimple] constructed this episode, the way [Greg Nicotero] directed this episode, the way that every single person crushed it. Every single person crushed it. You look at the whole of that and you realize all of those memories just imbue every look part of that episode. You get that whole full rush of like seven seasons of watching this show and it was really gnarly to see that. And so for me, the lasting memory is that, this whole experience.”