The Walking Dead: Was season seven premiere too violent?
Opening episode of hit AMC zombie show prompts complaints with gruesome killing
This article contains spoilers for season seven episode one
The Walking Dead season seven premiere aired last night – and was, by all accounts, one of the most explicitly violent episodes of the AMC zombie show, even prompting complaints from a US parents' organisation.
This episode "hands-down, was the most gruesome of them all – no questions asked", says ComicBook.com, asking: "Did the show take it too far?"
The big surprise of the episode was that two major characters – Sgt Abraham Ford and Glenn Rhee – were killed by the villainous Negan.
Using his famous barbed club, nicknamed Lucille, the gang leader bludgeoned Abraham, whose last words were the characteristically flippant: "Suck my nuts."
Daryl Dixon then annoyed Negan to the point where he "decided to hit a couple home runs over Glenn's head", says ComicBook.com, one of them causing his eye to bulge out.
The episode also featured a number of "swings, brains and (almost) family amputations", "brutal violence" that "represented a new era of The Waking Dead", adds the site.
Tim Winter, of the Parents' Television Council, described it as "one of the most graphically violent shows we've ever seen on television".
He added: "It's not enough to change the channel, as some people like to advocate, because cable subscribers – regardless of whether they want AMC or watch its programming – are still forced to subsidise violent content.
"This brutally explicit show is a powerful demonstration of why families should have greater control over the TV networks they purchase from their cable and satellite providers."
So what do the fans – already used to a high level of cartoonish violence – think of this latest escalation? "Was the show really too violent?" ComicBook.com asks. "Yes, it was. But it was needed."
Writing for the Daily Beast, Melissa Leon compares the show to "torture porn" and says its "hour of pure, relentless misery" was a "chore", not entertainment. The Walking Dead "just isn't fun anymore", she concludes.
This wasn't The Walking Dead's "bloodiest or goriest episode yet, not by far", she says, writing: "What feels new is the level of transparency with which the show now asks us to be entertained by pure, concentrated human pain and misery."
The Walking Dead: Who will die when season seven airs?
A tantalising new trailer for season seven of hit zombie horror series The Walking Dead, set to return to Fox UK later this month, hints at which character may have been killed off, as well as more disturbing developments to come.
The Walking Dead television series, based on the comic books of Robert Kirkman, tells the story of deputy sheriff Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln from Teachers) who wakes from a coma to find a world in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, and attempts to lead a group of survivors to safety.
The new three-minute clip for the upcoming season was screened during a panel at the New York Comic Con, a pop culture event this weekend. It begins moments after the cliffhanger ending for season six, in which the villainous Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) brutally attacked, and presumably killed, one of the members of Grimes's band of survivors.
The crowd at Comic Con erupted in shrieks as the clip came to a close, reports CNN, sparking further speculation about who Negan killed.
Some fans believe Rick might be about to lose his hand, something that happens in the comics. He appears to have both hands in the trailer, but Negan hints that this could change, telling Rick that Simon is his "right hand man" and asking: "Do you have one? Or did I...?"
Others thought it could be referring to a man on Rick's right, as there was blood on the right-hand side of his face. Some singled out Sgt Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz) as the possible victim.
Fans also spotted a blanket on the ground in the clip, similar to the blanket that Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) was wrapped in, so Daryl is another obvious candidate, says Entertainment Online.
The website suggests the clue is just as likely to be a red herring. But it also notes that if the series creators wanted "to seriously emotionally compromise" fans, "killing Daryl is a good way to do that".
Yet another theory, suggested by one keen-eyed tweeter suggests that Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan) may be the victim, after they spotting a ring, similar to the engagement ring Maggie was wearing, on the ground.
The clip ends with Negan dragging Rick off to his trailer for some evil purpose, as the camera pans to the bloody remains of Rick's friend in the foreground.
To discover the victim's true identity, and what will happen to Rick, fans will have to wait until The Walking Dead season seven premiere airs on Fox UK on Monday 24 October at 9pm.