Regardless of introducing its most malevolent bat-wielding meanie, Season 7 of The Walking Dead has seen a drop in excitement (and ratings) since its shocking premiere.
But after two more characters died at the hands of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) in Sunday's midseason finale, it looks like the survivors are finally about to take back control the only way they know how: war!!
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The biggest hint of an impending uprising in "Hearts Still Beating" was Daryl's (Norman Reedus) long overdue escape from the Saviors.
After being passed a note and motorcycle key at Negan's compound, Daryl flees his cell and immediately upgrades his wardrobe — and eats an entire jar of peanut butter — while he waits for the coast to clear.
During his escape, Daryl runs into one of Negan's more passive saviors, who offers the survivor a way out and insists he was just trying to get by. Having just been tortured for the past half a season, Daryl kills the minion anyway — beating him to death before heading back to the Hilltop with Jesus (Tom Payne).
Back in Alexandria, Spencer (Austin Nichols) tries to charm his way into the Saviors' good graces with a bottle of booze — which, of course, backfires. Over a game of pool, Spencer attempts to suck up to Negan by telling him that Rick (Andrew Lincoln) doesn't play well with others.
Negan catches on to Spencer's weaselly behavior, and tells the schemer he has no guts. Then to show his disdain for gutless slimeballs, Negan literally disembowels Spencer in what has to be one of the most poetic kills in the entire series.
Not taking kindly to her booty call getting eviscerated in front of everyone, Rosita (Christian Serratos) takes the bullet Eugene (Josh McDermitt) made and tries to shoot Negan, but instead hits his bat Lucille. (REALLY, Rosita!?!)
After Rosita refuses to reveal where the homemade bullet came from, Negan's right hand woman retaliates by shooting a random townsperson — RIP, Olivia (Ann Mahoney). Not wanting to see more deaths that day, Eugene confesses to making the bullet and gets himself taken hostage.
Meanwhile at the Kingdom, Carol (Melissa McBride) and Morgan (Lennie James) get a visit from one of Ezekiel's men who isn't feeling the arrangement with the saviors, and asks the two for help convincing Ezekiel (Khary Payton) and his pet tiger to carry out an attack.
However, the former Alexandrians are uninterested in leaving their peaceful homes and going into battle, and Carol says she just wants to be left alone. Okay, then!
After failing to storm the Sanctuary solo, Michonne (Danai Guria) returns to Alexandria and finds Rick in the jail cell under Morgan's old house.
Making a passionate plea for Rick to band with her and battle the Saviors, Michonne finally knocks some sense into the emasculated prisoner and lights a fire back in his spirit (and pants, probably).
The two head off to the Hilltop, where Rick and Michonne find Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Daryl waiting and already plotting against how to take down Negan. The gang is back together, y'all — and ready to kick some Savior ass!!
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BUT WAIT!!! In the post credits scene, we learn that Negan isn't the only problem the survivors have to worry about. At night, we see someone lurking outside Alexandria's walls with a pair of binoculars — wearing the same boots we saw near the houseboat Rick and Aaron were scavenging earlier in the episode.
We can't imagine this boot-wearing mystery person will pose more of a threat than Negan — but this is The Walking Dead, so you just never know!
Either way, we'll find out what happens when the AMC hit returns in February 2017.
[Image via AMC.]
Tags: amc, andrew lincoln, austin nichols, danai guria, jeffrey dean morgan, melissa mcbride, norman reedus, the walking dead, tv news