the walking dead negan

Last night’s The Walking Dead midseason finale was, in typical The Walking Dead fashion, a big ol’ shrug to an otherwise fairly strong batch of episodes. Loyal viewers of the show should be familiar with this by now – no series on television manages to feature so many peaks and valleys in such close proximity.

It’s telling that the most interesting aspect of the episode wasn’t even a proper part of the episode, but rather a “prologue” for the second half of the season, which will air early next year. This brief clip, presumably from an upcoming episode, features the first onscreen mention of the Negan, the villain who will loom over the second half of season 6, make his grand debut in the finale, and then become a regular character in season 7. You can check out the Walking Dead Negan clip for yourself after the jump.

The brief snippet of footage finds Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), Daryl (Norman Reedus), and Sasha (Sonequa Martin) stopped by a roadblock comprised entirely of unsavory types on motorcycles. With no way to escape, they step out of their vehicle and are informed that everything they own, from the weapons in their hands to the napkins in their glove compartment, now belongs to Negan.

Fans of the Walking Dead comic already know who Negan is. Fans of the television adaptation probably know that the wonderful Jeffrey Dean Morgan has been cast in the role. This character is a nasty piece of work (he makes the Governor look gentle) and it’s likely that the rest of the season will treat him as a big mystery before revealing him in the season finale. If you don’t want to know anymore, feel free to stop reading right here – we’ll disclose a few minor details below that shouldn’t hinder your enjoyment of the show, but you know your personal spoiler tolerance better than we do.

Still with us? Okay. Negan is essentially the anti-Rick. As the leader of a band of survivors known as The Saviors, he’s essentially a post-apocalyptic crime lord. He marches in, demands supplies and food as a “protection” fee, and kills anyone who opposes him. He wields a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire (which he has named “Lucille”) and he’s not afraid to use it.

The timing of Negan’s arrival is both the comics and the show is no accident. By this point, our heroes have gotten so good at killing zombies that they’re just another element in the world. The walking dead are no longer the focus of The Walking Dead – they’re just a thing that exists now and everyone has learned to deal with it. From this point on, as civilization begins the process of even thinking about rebuilding itself, the main conflict will be human versus human in a world that just so happens to be filled with flesh-eating corpses.

The back half of The Walking Dead season 6 will begin airing on AMC on February 14, 2016.

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