Warning: spoilers ahead for the Season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead.
The Walking Dead Season 7 kicked off with a devastating premiere that finally revealed just who Negan chose to beat to death to teach Rick and Co. a lesson for their Savior-killing ways. The sneak peeks had made it seem like the show wanted viewers to believe that Daryl could be the one - or one of the ones - to die a horrifying death, but everybody's favorite zombie apocalypse redneck survived the night. Unfortunately, his situation is still pretty grim.
Daryl was already in rough shape during Negan's round-up thanks to the bullet wound he sustained in Season 6, so Negan really might not have had to work up too much of a sweat if he'd wanted to beat the bejesus out of him. Still, Daryl had enough fight left in him to land a punch to Negan as he was gloating about killing Abraham, which naturally prompted Negan to make another show of force. After all, he couldn't let Rick's right hand man get away with assaulting him without punishment. So, Negan beat Glenn to death in a gruesome twist that came as a surprise to any who were only expecting one murder in the premiere. It was an iconic moment ripped straight from the pages of the Walking Dead comics, with the extra twist that Daryl caused the death of his pal with his outburst. This is why you don't have nice things, Daryl.
Negan was apparently impressed by Daryl's nerve to take a swing at him, which actually says a lot about the villain. Daryl's decision to punch the bat-wielding antagonist was both very dumb and very brave. Negan could have gone ahead and decided that a man with Daryl's reckless streak wouldn't be worth keeping around. Instead, he's taking Daryl home to play with, which doesn't bode well for Daryl but could result in some pretty awesome episodes for viewers.
Daryl is going to be without any allies as the hostage of the Saviors for the foreseeable future, and there's no telling where his story might go. His fans can rest easy knowing that he survived the bloodbath of a season premiere, although they probably don't want to celebrate in front of any Glenn fans. It should be interesting to see if Maggie harbors any ill will toward Daryl. as he obviously didn't mean to get anybody else killed, but she won't be forgetting the image of her husband being clubbed to death any time soon.
On the whole, Negan's decision to keep Daryl alive as leverage against Rick in the new regime is a pretty genius move. After Carl and Michonne, Daryl is probably the person closest to Rick in the zombie apocalypse. Negan promised that Rick would receive bits and pieces of his bro Daryl if he and his crew were to stir the pot, which should be effective at ensuring the good behavior of the Alexandrians.
Tune in to AMC on Sunday nights at 9 p.m. ET to see what's next for Daryl with Negan and the Saviors on The Walking Dead. He should be in for a rough time both physically and emotionally, and we should get to see Norman Reedus tackle some meaty (and possibly very bloody) material.