The countdown is on, The Walking Dead fans.
In just a few short days, we'll finally learn who was on the receiving end of Negan's devastating death blow from his trusty Lucille (aka, a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire) when the highly anticipated seventh season of the AMC hit premieres. To say that the reveal is highly anticipated (and just as equally dreaded) would be putting it mildly. While we continue to debate which beloved character—or characters—won't make it out alive, showrunner Scott M. Gimple wants it known that the show's never seen a death like this before.
"Yeah, well, this isn't somebody being attacked by a Walker, it isn't random, it's purposeful," Gimple told EW. "It's extremely purposeful. Negan said in the finale that this is him showing them what the consequences are if they won't do what he says."
As he explained, Rick Grimes and his crew are losing more than just one life thanks to Negan. "Not only do they have this terrible loss, but they lose their autonomy," Gimple continued. "They're under someone's thumb now, in every way. And the consequences of that, of trying to defy him, are laid out in front of them in just the most horrible way.
"They're powerless, they lose all of their power. At every opportunity up to this point, they've been parlaying that power. And their power was fighting together," he added. "But they're moving into a whole new reality. And it's not the reality they want to live in but they have to."
That loss and powerlessness will fracture the group, right at the exact time when they truly need each other most. "And it breaks them apart, in a lot of ways, emotionally and even circumstantially," Gimple teased. "You know, to put it in a tiny, tiny bite, how do they go on?"
And if you think the Alexandria gang might be able to turn to Gregory and the people of the Hilltop in their time of devastation for support, that might not be so easy. "Gregory is a very slippery character. And who knows what he'll do? He's about preserving himself and the Hilltop," Gimple said, adding, "So, there's a bit of a panic, and it definitely makes the relationship between the two communities suddenly very different."
The Walking Dead returns Sunday, Oct. 23 at 9 p.m. on AMC.