It’s been a long time coming but the barbed wire swinging baddy has finally made his appearance during the season 6 finale of the Walking Dead.
Negan has arrived.
Not since the days of the Governor has the series seen a character as gruesome and polarizing. Just wait. The Governor took detestable to a whole new level. Now Negan will raise that level tenfold. And it’s going to be glorious.
Hotly debated among the Walking Dead faithful, Jeffery Dean Morgan has earned the role of Negan. There’s no doubt his acting skills are there but he’s much more well known as a big picture guy. His longevity on the show is a debated topic. Will he have the same commitment as those that have been with the show since season 1? Or is there an innate fear he could walk sooner than the character deserves? Fans can only hope for the former of the two.
For those whom follow the show but may not read the pages of the comic, it’s important to know who this character is and how critical he becomes to the larger Walking Dead narrative. Negan makes his first appearance in grand fashion during issue 100 of the comic. And much like his appearance in those pages, his grand arrival is a big one. Like the show teased, it’s gruesome, it’s brutal, and it’s down right heartbreaking.
The Walking Dead is a show that walks on water. It’s Teflon coated and never seems to fall short of greatness – both among fans and critics alike. Throw all that out the window though, as there has never been such a hotly debated episode of the Walking Dead than the season 6 finale. For once, the show runners may have bit off a little more than they can chew with the walker faithful. By not showing Negan’s kill, it does keep fans talking until it’s return this Fall.
But was it the right move? As momentous as Negan’s introduction was in the comic book, it’s debatable that it falls flat on screen. Jeffery Dean Morgan does the best he can with his introduction but the episode as a whole was building up to his appearance to ultimately go over soft. Was it ever possible to live up to the hype and expectations of those who knew he was coming? Again, debatable and after the finale, it’s possibly a heartfelt no. But – Negan will become an integral part to the story moving forward; as integral as Rick has been up to this point.
Is Jeffery Dean Morgan the perfect casting choice for Negan? Maybe yes. But also possibly no. Fans have only seen a small sample of the actor playing the role up to this point. His monologue was nearly recreated panel-for-panel from the pages of the comic and it comes across very different.
For the Walking Dead to evolve to the next level, Negan has to be done right. He’s the flip side of Rick; a yin to his yang. The two have to develop a hatred for one another that can span an entire season and beyond. It’s going to be difficult to not make this feud look like a Governor/Rick 2.0 sort of conflict. It’s possible Negan’s kill fuels that fire.
Many fans feel from the little bit that’s been show of Negan, Jeffery Dean Morgan will do the job right. He’s an actor with incredible ability. His take as the Comedian in 2009s Watchmen is often sited as the go-to material when comparing the two characters. And it’s quite possible the role that got him the gig. If long term commitment is there and the writing is sound, the onscreen iteration of Negan will be just as good as the one from the pages of the comic.
What do you think? Was Jeffery Dean Morgan the right choice to play the Lucille swinging villain Negan?
The Walking Dead season 7 will premiere in the October 2016 on AMC.