SPOILER ALERT: The following article discusses the events of ‘The Walking Dead’ midseason 7 finale. If you are behind, you may want to skip this until you catch up.
The events of most season and midseason finales on ‘The Walking Dead’ vary, but there’s almost always one constant: Someone dies. Often more than one someone. And that held true with Season Seven. But unlike the season opener which saw the deaths of two beloved regulars, Glenn and Abraham, the deaths in the midseason finale were, in one case, startling but not necessarily gut-wrenching, while the other was almost worthy of cheers.
First Negan gutted sneaky Spencer after the latter attempted to butter him up to kill Rick and allow Spencer to run Alexandria. When Rosita botched her attempt to assassinate Negan, he ordered one of his lackeys to kill a random bystander and that ended up being Olivia. But since she wasn’t that major a character, it was was more of a shrug than a sob.
Executive producer Gale Anne Hurd addressed the two deaths and how they impact Rick and the rest of Season Seven:
The thing is, since we’re not on the air until February, it’s important to setup the stakes for the second half of the season. The only way that you can deepen the stakes and wake Rick up from his stupor was through loss. It really is more about setting up the back half of the season rather than what’s the death count going to be. The whole point is about the overall storytelling and not doing something just for the shock value. It’s a complex show.
It really is more about how it affects the remaining group. With Spencer that’s a horrific death but everyone knew that he was pretty untrustworthy. That he was plotting against Rick. He was vocal in that with Father Gabriel. So he’s not someone that was probably going to motivate anyone to do anything because his death seemed almost deserved, whereas Olivia was completely blameless, completely innocent. In Negan’s world he just says kill somebody and you never know whose number is going to come up. That’s not a world that the rest of our Survivors are going to want to continue to live in.
As readers of the comics know, often the show deviates to keep things fresh. (For example, having Denise die on the show, the way that Abraham did in the comics.) But in the case of Spencer, the show’s creators stuck with the source material.
We always consider [changing deaths] but this is one that everyone agreed upon. I was there actually when we shot the sequences. It was tough because between that and killing Olivia everyone was pretty down. Obviously, as an audience member you kind of cheer when Spencer meets his doom because if he didn’t he was bound to get someone else killed.
He’s very good at criticizing everyone else but cannot see his own flaws. That’s kind of catnip to Negan. Negan is someone who does not abide people like that because he knows that Spencer will go whichever direction the wind’s blowing. I mean to have a spineless coward is really dangerous so he takes real pleasure in killing that kind of individual.
While Olivia wasn’t a major character, as Hurd said, she was an innocent one. The fact that Negan and his wildcard followers are free to simply waltz into their settlement and take whatever they want, beat whomever they want (as they did to Aaron right in front of Rick’s eyes) and ultimately kill whomever they want, appears to the be the catalyst to light a fire under Rick, who has been shown to be obedient and docile ever since Negan killed Glenn and Abraham
As Hurd said:
There’s no question. I think with Michonne’s pep talk and with Daryl back, Rick is finding his mojo again. I don’t think they’re going to be willing servants of Negan’s anymore.
‘The Walking Dead’ returns on February 12, 2017.