Holy shit! The Walking Dead premiere for season seven was a gory nightmare that’s divided opinion – some viewers are condemning it as brutal and violent – but fans have also rated it a 9.3 on IMDB, putting it in the top 10 of the series’ episodes to date. Spoilers below, as we explore its implications…

One aspect of the show fans are focussing on in particular is that it’s now been brought closer to the comics than it has been in a while. Other than a few differences from the comics – in which Rick has lost a hand and Andrea is still alive – the events of season seven’s premiere made it seem like storylines from the comics might be followed more closely than in previous seasons.

Abraham and Glenn are now both out of the picture, as they are by the end of issue 100 – the issue of the comics the S7 premiere is based around – by which time Abraham is already dead and Glenn alone is killed by Negan. The series is further aligning itself with the comics by taking fan favourite Daryl Dixon out of the picture – he doesn’t even exist in the comics – because in the show he gets separated from the group by Negan. Even director Greg Nicotero says it’s getting more similar to the world of the comics: “To me it feels like we may be a little closer in nature to certain beats in the graphic novel than we have in the past,” he’s said. But what does this actually mean for the next few episodes?

Negan will want to be Carl’s friend

A weird one, yeah, but in the comics Negan has a strange admiration for how hardened Carl has become while still just a teen. In the premiere of season seven, Negan tells Rick to cut off Carl’s arm, or everyone else gets killed. Carl urges Rick to do it, and this appears to impress Negan so much that he stops Rick from going through with it. Later on in the comics, Carl is taken hostage and ‘mentored’ by Negan – and it looks likely that we could see this happen in the series too.

 Maggie will become a leader

Maggie’s pregnancy is what brings her to the Hilltop community in the comics, and later on she becomes its leader. Expect her to be full of vengeance for her dead husband Glenn. If the comics are anything to go by, she’ll also bear a grudge against Rick for not preventing his death – but they’ll soon become allies again in the fight against The Saviors.

The Kingdom will join Alexandria and the Hilltop

Carol and Morgan are both dead in the comics, but from what we’ve seen they’re probably heading in the direction of The Kingdom, a place managed by a guy called Ezekiel and his pet tiger, Shiva. The Kingdom plays a big role in the comics, as it joins the fight against Negan’s Saviors alongside Rick in Alexandria and Maggie at the Hilltop. We’ve already had confirmation that Ezekiel and the tiger will both appear in the new season, so in all likelihood we’ll be seeing The Kingdom very soon.