Gene Page/AMC
Dalton Ross
November 04, 2016 AT 03:14 PM EDT

All along, producers of The Walking Dead said season 7 would not be all about the deaths in the season premiere, but rather what those deaths did to those who remain. Now that process begins, and judging by what comic creator and TV executive producer Robert Kirkman tells us, it could be a very different reaction from the two people most affected by what happened.

Let’s start with Rick. If Negan’s goal was to make Rick completely submissive, what kind of Rick are we going to see going forward when he makes it back to Alexandria? “This is a completely different Rick Grimes,” promises Kirkman. “The show is all about evolution. We’ve seen Rick Grimes grow harder and harder and more resilient and more capable, but this is him torn down to his lowest point and having everything stripped away. If you look at the fear in Andrew Lincoln’s eyes when he realizes he’s going to have to chop off his son’s arm, that’s really the moment where he completely breaks.”

Even with the deaths of Glenn and Abraham, that scene with Carl’s arm may have been the most harrowing. But the question is not just how it affects Rick, but the others around Rick as well. “What we have now is a Rick Grimes that’s completely broken,” says Kirkman. “And we know that Rick is in that mindset based on that first episode, but what’s going to be really interesting throughout the season is how all the other characters around him deal with this. Because you can see from that first episode that Maggie is definitely not expecting Rick to be like that, and you’ll see as we go on that this is a new world for everyone, and a lot of people who have been counting on Rick since the beginning aren’t really going to know how to handle this. So it’s going to be a really interesting place to explore moving forward.”

Maggie may be the most interesting part of the equation. Lauren Cohan told us that what Negan did to her husband and father of her unborn child will “light this crazy fuse” in the character. We’ve seen Maggie emerging as a leader on the show, and that is something that gets ramped up in the comics moving forward. So how will the events that just played out with Negan impact that arc?

“If anything, this accelerates her trajectory,” confirms Kirkman. “I think she’s always been a very strong character and she’s always been someone that’s been very capable, but I don’t think she’s ever been this driven. She’s definitely going to be out for revenge, and she definitely has a big motive here to try and avenge Glenn’s death. That’s going to be a huge source of conflict for her. Whether it derails her off the trajectory of the comic book story or gets her there faster remains to be seen. But there are definitely some interesting things coming up for Maggie.”

For more Walking Dead scoop, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

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