Why, after introducing the most anticipated character from Robert Kirkman’s comic universe, are you going to let his most impactful deed rot over time? When reading the comic, Negan’s first appearance is rendered 10x more intimidating because we meet him, hear his egotistical musings, and then watch a VERY main character get brutally slaughtered (Glenn) within a matter of pages.
Negan knocks politely, kicks the door down, then blows the entire proverbial house sky-high, all while grinning and probably eating an apple – some sick, twisted shit that IMMEDIATELY dives into the vastly anarchistic core of Negan’s God-like psyche.
Instead, television viewers were dragged through an hour-and-a-half, drawn-out game of misdirection, followed by five solid minutes of prime Negan, and the biggest middle finger that Gimple’s team could stretch. We’d waited entire episodes to see Negan wield Lucille, while enduring a whiny Carol and other less-crucial subplots, only to have The Walking Dead divert back to its abusive ways, like a drunk spouse who’d somehow gotten us to tear up the divorce papers for a third damn time.
Not only was Negan’s introduction weakened because we don’t actually see his ferocity in action just yet, but now you’ve wasted the tremendous emotional choke-hold that silenced entire households of fans already anticipating the worst. You’re wedging six months between a 30-second establishing shot and its subsequent payoff? Forget blue balls – you’ve lost the anticipation that Season 6’s final minutes were able to draw out, and for that, the impending Season 7 death will be met with frustration, not war-torn angst.
Plus, you know the first episode of Season 7 is going to bullshit us with some cheeky storytelling method where the dead cast member won’t be revealed right away. It’ll be some cut-to-Negan ploy where we’re taken to the Savior’s camp, and it won’t be until the very end that he reveals a standing pike with whoever’s head on it. Or a Kingdom-focused introductory episode (the people who rescue Carol) where we learn about yet another community (THAT BETTER HAVE A F#CKING TIGER). Gimple and company had audiences in their hands, malleable like putty, but they let us slip through.
Why? Simple – because they know we’ll be back.