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The Walking Dead has finally returned from its winter hiatus, and the second half of Season 7 got off to an action-packed (and surprisingly funny) start. Rick and Co. are getting ready to take a stand against Negan, and so the episode was filled with less oppressive doom and gloom than the whole first half of the season. Executive producer Greg Nicotero directed the midseason premiere, and he had this to say about why it was so much fun to shoot:
This cast, the show, it hits all cylinders when you have the ensemble together... a lot of these guys hadn't worked together in a long time, so it was great. The funniest thing is, I walked down the street and people were like, 'When you gonna kill Negan?' Andy Lincoln all season was, 'When are we just gonna kill this guy?' So, the first day of the shoot, he was so excited. He's back, finally now Rick is not under Negan's thumb anymore. I think it's safe to say that now the guys are back together, he's pretty much decided that he's not going to take it anymore.
Greg Nicotero's reveal on Talking Dead about why the midseason premiere was such a refreshing change goes a long way to explain why the characters seemed to much more animated throughout the episode. Rick and the other good guys are finally able to be proactive in their dynamic with Negan now that they're mostly all together and reasonably safe again. I do feel a little bit bad for Eugene, whose fate with the Saviors seems to bother Rick a lot less than Daryl's when he was captured, but it was great to see the majority of the team back together again to rebel against Negan.
The separation of many of the main characters was hard on the actors as well as behind-the-scenes folks like Greg Nicotero. Both Norman Reedus and Lennie James have spoken out about how much they did not enjoy being apart from their pals in the cast through most of the first half of Season 7. Unfortunately for Reedus, Daryl was just left behind at The Sanctuary to hide from the vengeful Saviors, but at least he has Morgan, Ezekiel, and hopefully soon Carol to keep him company. It certainly sounds like more fun than his time eating dog food at The Sanctuary.
Andrew Lincoln's excitement about Rick getting to form a resistance against Negan should be fun to watch... for however long the resistance lasts, anyway. Negan still has his bargaining chip in the form of Eugene, and Eugene's knowledge of weaponry could be used to challenge Rick and Co. if Negan manages to break him. We can only hope that the Alexandrians' alliance with Hilltop will give them the strength they need to last at least until Ezekiel comes around to joining their war. Of course, Rick ran into a brand new batch of potential bad guys at the end of the midseason premiere, so there's a chance that Negan won't be the top bad guy in the coming weeks.
We'll have to wait and see. Tune in to AMC on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET to see what's next for Rick and the rest on The Walking Dead, and check out our midseason TV premiere schedule for a look at what else to watch on the small screen.