After opening Season 7 with shock and awe, AMC’s The Walking Dead has sensibly been trying to ease back into regular old show-sized battles.
No one will complain if the second half of the season, which premieres Sunday at 9 p.m. ET, starts shaping the lines of those battles.
After all, The Saviors, led by the villainous bully Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), seem to be on the brink of controlling all known colonies, including the Alexandria domain where Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln, below, with Morgan) and all our friends live.
If Alexandria meekly submits to this crushing domination, frankly, we don’t have much of a show.
So a vow of resistance feels like not just the obvious way to go, but the only way to go.
Trouble is, the first half of the season – not for the first time in Walking Dead history – did not go exactly where we expected.
In the first episode, Negan at least temporarily obliterated every other possible point of concern in the show by committing a couple of murders straight from the Chicago stockyards.
Several subsequent episodes focused on single characters, which created some moments and was also an acknowledgment that we couldn’t really focus on the larger group again until we’d had some time to start getting over that first episode.
By the end of the first half, our Alexandria friends and most of the other colonies we’ve seen were falling further under the less-than-benevolent stewardship of the Saviors.
So intimidating was Negan’s army that even Rick, Alexandria’s yes-we-can leader, looked at times like he’d had the spirit squeezed out of him.
But by the end, Rick and the others were perking up a bit, buoyed by the escape and return of Daryl (Norman Reedus, left).
Still, resisting the Saviors isn’t quite as easy as sending an undercooked filet back to the kitchen.
The Saviors have a larger army with more weapons and more supplies, which is not the scouting report you want on the other side if you’re going to start a fight.
Because of that, it’s pretty certain some of the allies of the Alexandria colony will be arguing to hold off. Maybe some of the crew inside the colony, too.
But fans will argue against it because fans are ready for action to resume. Since viewership numbers dropped a bit as the first half went on – nothing too alarming, but a drop nonetheless – the creators quite likely would like to give the people at least some of what they want.
The return of Darryl was certainly a step in that direction, and fans will want to keep up with a couple of other key strays as well: Carol (Melissa McBride, right) and Morgan (Lennie James).
Mainly, though, it’s safe to say fans want The Walking Dead to settle back into its traditional narrative style, where we keep following the core group we have come to know and they keep being proactive.
Naturally, we’ll expect some new faces since The Walking Dead has always shuffled characters in and out. We will also expect that while everyone in Alexandria has the same goal, not everyone is up for a group hug. Some of the group remains downright snappish, especially after the Negan thing.
Finally, purists would also like the show to remember the value of a zombie component. While the last few major storylines have increasingly focused on people-to-people interaction, there’s no need to neglect the walkers.
Zombies don’t have much less subtlety than Negan anyhow – and sometimes we just need to be reminded they’re the reason we’re all here in the first place.