The first half of Season 7 sees the group fractured, broken, bereaved, and picking up the pieces while living under the thumb of oppression. Negan will have successfully brought the survivors under his will, brutally convincing them to live under his rules with a deadly and horrific example of what happens if they don't.
Heavy breathing and stifled sobs can be heard in the darkness. Rick is still on his knees, at Negan's mercy.
"Why? Was the joke that bad?" Negan asks, taunting Rick.
Rick calmly affirms that he's going to kill Negan, "Not today, not tomorrow. But I'm gonna kill you." Negan takes Rick's axe and drags him to the RV.
Inside the RV, Negan slams the axe into a table and sits in the driver's seat, his back to Rick. He dares Rick to kill him with the axe. Rick grabs it and charges forward, but Negan turns around at the last second, machine gun pointed at Rick, and orders him to drop the axe. He starts the RV.
Negan drives through heavy fog and smoke; right through a herd of walkers, blood and guts splattering the windshield. He asks Rick if that reminds him of anyone.
Rick thinks about Rosita and Glenn.
Negan stops the RV; it's swarmed with walkers. "You are mine. The people back there? They are mine. This? This is mine," he says, pointing to Rick's axe. He throws the ax outside and orders Rick to retrieve it. Rick doesn't move. "Get my axe," Negan commands, pointing Lucille at Rick's face. Rick gets up. Negan pushes him out the door.
As Rick fights the walkers in the dense haze, he thinks about Sasha and Eugene. Aaron and Abraham. Maggie and Daryl. He climbs to the top of the RV and sees they're at the smoldering wall of logs that the Saviors previously used to block their path.
Rick sees a walker hanging by its neck on the overpass -- the captive the Saviors killed while Rick and his group watched.
Rick thinks about Michonne and Carl and breaks down, remembering what happened.
Flash back to the previous night: Rick's group kneels as Negan deliberates over who to kill. "Eeny, meeny, miny, moe," he says as he stops in front of Abraham. Negan brings the bat down on Abraham's head. "Suck my nuts," says Abraham, defiantly.
Everyone in the group cries as Negan beats Abraham's head to a bloody pulp. When he's finally finished, Negan orders Rosita to look at Abraham.
Enraged, Daryl leaps up and attacks Negan, but he's tackled by nearby Saviors.
Dwight arrives with Daryl's crossbow, ready for the kill, but Negan has other plans. "You don't kill that, not until you try a little," says Negan. Dwight drags Daryl away.
As punishment for Daryl's transgression, Negan turns and brings Lucille down on Glenn's head. Glenn, dying, brings his head back up and takes a look at Maggie. He struggles as he utters his last words "Maggie, I'll find you". Maggie looks on in horror as Negan bashes in Glenn's head.
"Lucille is thirsty. She's a vampire bat," Negan quips. He walks over to Rick and wonders, "Was the joke that bad?"
Back in the present: Rick lies on top of the RV, axe next to him, haunted by Glenn and Abraham's deaths. From inside the RV, Negan shoots at Rick through the roof and again orders him to get the axe. Rick picks up the axe and jumps off the roof, grabbing onto the hanging walker, but dropping the axe in the process. Walkers grab at Rick's feet. Negan opens a window and shoots most of the walkers clawing for Rick, but then the hanging walker's body detaches from its head, dropping Rick into the herd. Once again, Negan orders Rick to get the axe.
Rick finds the axe and makes his way back to the RV. "Atta boy," Negan says, then starts the RV.
Negan drives the RV back to the clearing where Rick's group awaits. He cleans the bloody axe with rubbing alcohol and tells Rick that he is no longer in charge. "You can still lead a nice productive life producing for me," he says. He hands Rick the axe, "I think you're gonna need it. I just got a feeling."
Negan pushes Rick out of the RV and drags him back to the rest of his group. He explains to Rick that the purpose of their drive was to change the way Rick sees him. "But you're still looking at me the same damn way," he says. Negan orders his men to put their guns to everyone's heads, and tells Carl to lie on the ground. He draws a line on Carl's arm and presents Rick with an ultimatum: Rick must cut off Carl's arm, or everyone will die, including everyone in Alexandria.
Rick begs Negan to take him instead. Impatient, Negan starts counting down from three.
Two. Rick continues pleading.
One. "Just do it," Carl whispers.
Anguished, Rick brings up the axe, but Negan stops him at the very last second. "You answer to me, you provide for me, you belong to me, right?" he asks. "I provide for you," Rick agrees, with a broken expression. Satisfied, Negan takes back the axe.
Negan tells Dwight to put Daryl in a van. He explains to Rick that if he ever tries anything else, he will force Rick to mutilate Daryl. "Welcome to a brand new beginning," exclaims Negan, as he stands to go. He leaves a truck with Rick's group so they can transport the goods they are to produce for him. He says he will return for their first offering in one week.
Rick's group reels with shock and grief as the Saviors leave. Finally, Maggie struggles to her feet. Rick tells her they need to get her to the doctor, but she insists that Rick head back to Alexandria and prepare to fight the Saviors.
Rick says they will all die if they go after Negan, and insists on bringing her to The Hilltop for medical attention. Sasha volunteers to go with Maggie. "I'm taking him with me," Maggie says in reference to Glenn's body. She crouches next to Glenn, sobbing.
Sasha gently tells Rosita that she's going to take Abraham's body.
The group gathers around Maggie, begging her to let them help her. "He's our family too," Rick says of Glenn. Maggie relents and lets them move the body.
Sasha, Rosita and Eugene pick up Abraham's body while Carl, Rick and Aaron carry Glenn.
Rick envisions an idyllic scene. In it, his group peacefully eats dinner together. Glenn holds his son. Abraham sits next to him.
Back in harsh reality, Rick prepares to head back to Alexandria. He picks up his axe as a walker approaches, but he ignores it and gets in the RV. Rick glances in the side view mirror as he drives away. In it, he sees the walker, kneeling as it eagerly laps up Glenn and Abraham's spilled blood.