‘The Walking Dead’ Is Back Tonight

“The Walking Dead,” which returns from its winter break tonight, began its seventh season with a bludgeoning for the ages, a double murder that turned the stomachs of even longtime fans inured to the show’s splatter factor. It didn’t get any better from there, as Rick and the Gang (along with the rest of us) endured seven more weeks of misery and subjugation by the new baddie Negan and his Saviors, before finally seeming to rebound in the midseason finale.

Are our heroes ready to overthrow their tormentors? Let’s consider this and several additional questions leading into Sunday’s second half premiere.

Who all got killed, again?

Glenn and Abraham were the big ones, of course. We also lost Spencer and Olivia, but they were pretty marginal. Daryl and Eugene were taken by the Saviors, but Daryl escaped.

Glenn and Abraham’s brutal deaths set a gloomy tone for the first half of the season. The first half was primarily about Rick and friends grieving the loss and being victimized by Negan and the Saviors. We also met some new groups, and … well, that was about it. But eventually enough was enough, and the midseason finale ended with the core good guys reuniting, determined to throw off the yoke of Savior oppression.

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Will we meet any more groups in ‘The Walking Dead’?

The Kingdom Walking Dead

Season 7 has kicked off a new phase of “The Walking Dead” marked by colonies that are collaborating and clashing as civilization recreates itself in a postapocalyptic dawn. So far, in addition to the Saviors and Alexandria, we’ve met the weak but industrious Hilltop, led by the sniveling Gregory; the Kingdom, led by the Ren-Faire poser King Ezekiel; and Oceanside, an all-female group, led by the hard-nosed Natania, who hates outsiders but has lots of guns. There are also the Wolves, a murderous gang that was a real problem last season but hasn’t been a factor in Season 7.

So is that it? Or are there more introductions to come? Based on this season’s general world-expanding tendencies, it seems likely.

Will Negan tone it down?

Negan Walking Dead

Jeffrey Dean Morgan is electric in his performance, which is unfortunately also full of affected mannerisms — wild exclamations, an odd backbend-type move — that quickly grew tiresome. A big villain helps to give “The Walking Dead” focus, and Mr. Morgan has shown promise, so hopefully he and the writers will find the actual man behind the tics.

What questions or hopes do you have for the second half of the season? Please share your thoughts in the comments.