It’s been a rough ride so far for Rick Grimes on season 7 of The Walking Dead. He had to sit back and watch his fellow Alexandrians be bludgeoned, gutted, shot, tortured, and beat up as Negan and the Saviors took control. Suffice it to say there was not a lot of time for chuckles or guffaws. But are things now starting to turn around?
Rick was finally ready to fight back by the end of the midseason finale, and his bro-down throwdown of a reunion hug with Daryl offered the promise of hope for our less-than-merry band of survivors. Showrunner Scott M. Gimple confirms that TWD’s second half of the season (which kicks off Feb. 12) will indeed feel very different from the episodes that preceded it, and that includes what may be the biggest Walking Dead twist of all. “It propels us into a very different half season from the one before it,” says Gimple of the midseason premiere, while adding the following promise: “Before the end of that very first episode back, you will see Rick Grimes smile.”
Smile?! Like, are we talking about an almost indecipherable smirk or a big toothy grin? Either way… WE’LL TAKE IT! Exec producer Greg Nicotero already explained to EW how they “had to burn the place down” before having the group rise up to fight the menace that is Negan, and Gimple is now echoing Andrew Lincoln’s comments to EW that “the thrill of the fight is back.”
With Rick, Daryl, Maggie, and others all now reunited at the Hilltop, the rest of season will likely be a walk-up to the “All Out War” arc from the comic on which the show is based. It means the days of silent subjugation are over, and that march towards war begins with a Feb. 12 episode that team TWD is excited to unleash. “The midseason premiere is a movie unto itself,” says Gimple. “Angela Kang wrote it, Greg Nicotero directed it, the cast knocked it out of the park — pretty much literally, you’ll see — and the crew pulled it all together, and it was a hell of a lot to pull together.”
Any guesses as to what Gimple’s “knocked it out of the park” hint means, or what causes that shocking Rick Grimes grin? Feel free to post your theories below, and for more Walking Dead intel, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.