Everyone’s Calling Out ‘The Walking Dead’ After One Of The Most Brutal Deaths In TV History

Is this the one that will finally get people to quit?

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Spoilers for the season seven premiere of The Walking Dead!

The headlines this morning are grim.

The Walking Dead‘s season premiere wasn’t worth it,” writes i09. “The Walking Dead‘s brutal violence finally went too far,” declares Slate. In a great essay for Vulture, critic Matt Zoller Seitz denounces “the empty violence of The Walking Dead“. “If nothing else,” he says, “the seventh season premiere of The Walking Dead gave audiences a metaphor for the show’s methods: a bat to the head.”

If you missed it — or more likely, tuned out of the show about three seasons ago — that bat (also covered in barbed wire) was delivered to the heads of both Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and Glenn (Steven Yuen). After leaving the last season on a cliffhanger, allowing for six months of speculation about which major character would be killed, The Walking Dead returned with a double-header. The show’s new (and much-hyped) villain Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) struck both men until they were dead in front of their screaming loved ones.

Glenn, who is a fan favourite and has been a major character on the show since its premiere in 2010, was given a slower death. After the first hit, which caused his left eye to pop out of his skull, Negan prolonged his suffering. Glenn then turned to Maggie, his pregnant wife, and stuttered “I’ll find you” before his head was pulverised with great relish.

Fans are in line with the critics on this one. It was a lot.

To be fair, this isn’t new ground for The Walking Dead. Only three of the original characters are still breathing and the show has taken great pleasure in sending each of the others off with exceptional gore and/or heartbreak. We’ve seen a kid stab his zombie mum in the skull after she died during childbirth. We watched an elderly man get beheaded, execution-style in front of his screaming adult daughters. In one the show’s most complex and challenging moments, a young girl was purposefully shot in the back of the head by someone close to her.

Earlier this year, the shock and pain felt with these kind of deaths inspired a weekly ‘The Walking Dead Quitters Club’ column on The Verge — a tongue in cheek series that poked fun at the “cynical” ways the showrunners toy with their audience’s threshold for grief and torture. Today they’ve resurrected the series under the headline “goodbye for real”.

“This wasn’t quality television, and it wasn’t suspenseful drama,” they write. “It was torture-porn masquerading as storytelling, and AMC should be ashamed for airing it.”

It’s difficult to counter their point on that one. Lori’s death revealed the strength in her character and proved to be a crucial step to adulthood for her son, Karl. Hershel’s beheading steeled his daughters, Maggie and Beth, for life on their own and the fight that was to come against his murderer. Carol’s decision to kill Lizzie consumed her from that point on. It was symbolic of a whole new era of ruthlessness.

What will Glenn’s death — complete with tight shots of his loved ones’ pain, and prolonged sequences of skull bashing — actually serve? Maggie’s had her pain. Rick’s been broken before. Have we just reached a point of rinse and repeat gore?

As the above-mentioned Vulture critic (whose currently getting hounded by TWD diehards on Twitter) attested, violence for the sake of dumb, painful violence deserves to be questioned now more than ever.