With the brutal deaths of Glenn and Abraham behind them, executive producer Gale Anne Hurd reveals how Rick and the group will move on.

There’s no denying that the last two episodes of The Walking Dead have been dark. The Season 6 finale and the Season 7 premiere brought Rick and the group to their lowest point. The big question now is, “What happens next?” Negan is here. Glenn and Abraham are dead. How does the group move on?

Entertainment Tonight talked to executive producer Gale Anne Hurd and got some answers.

Rick is No Longer the Boss

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes on The Walking DeadImage Credit: AMC

“We are no longer in the world of the Ricktatorship,” Hurd said. “We’ve always seen Rick making the choices as to whether he wants to leave or not and what the premiere proved is that it’s Negan’s world that they’re living in now. That was the brutal reckoning that made it very clear to Rick that things had changed completely…. It is very much about Rick and the choices that he has made and has to accept and to realize and where he is in this new world order.”

Daryl Blames Himself

Everyone in the group will be affected by the deaths. Daryl, however, will take Glenn’s death particularly hard. “These characters can’t read the future. They’ve never come across anyone like Negan before,” Hurd said. “They have to learn on their own. They have to learn who Negan is and Negan shows them. The show is all about the choices that we make and the fans either relating to those choices, being horrified by them or understanding them. But we’re all both fans and characters alike, who are traumatized by what we’ve seen happen.”

A Brief Respite

After that brutally dark episode, we’ll at least be getting a break this week. Episode 7×02 ‘The Well’ will take on a much different tone. “I would say that it’s lighter. I mean, we have had some funny episodes,” Hurd said. “The other thing to remember is as dark as our world gets, and as dark as the real world gets that we all live in, it’s the hope in the indomitable human spirit that gets us through. I think this show is a metaphor for that. Rick is not giving up. He’s broken, but he’s not giving up.”

The Kingdom

Morgan and Carol will get to explore The Kingdom in this week’s episode. “Obviously people who read the comics know that [The Kingdom] is a high-functioning community,” Hurd said. “The other great thing about this season is being able to open up and see, not only the danger and brutality of Negan, but the fact that there are other communities that are functioning. That provide some hope in this dark world.”

Thankfully, The Kingdom actually has a competent leader. “Ezekiel is great! We had some many people audition for that role and Khary Payton just did such a great job,” said Hurd. “Mostly we’ve seen pretty brutal groups. From that police group at Grady Memorial Hospital, to the claimers, and the people at The Sanctuary who were cannibals, but now we’re got someone who’s not crazy. And he’s not a coward like Gregory either from Hilltop.”

The eccentric Ezekiel also keeps a pet tiger named Shiva by his side at all times. “What’s even more remarkable is that we’re bringing Shiva to life,” Hurd said. “I don’t think that people thought we would actually have a tiger on the show, but we do. There is an animatronic one and it’s enhanced through the magic of CGI.”

Love Always Prevails

The long road ahead this season will continue to showcase hope and love for the survivors. “The truth is, there’s love during wartime,” Hurd said. “It’s during the darkest moments when you realize how precious loved ones are — whether they’re friends, or family, or the person you love most in the world. It’s really then that you see how precious these relationships are and that really hits home.”

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