Let’s be honest: even the most diehard of Walking Dead fans would admit to tough going through the first half of Season 7, between all its brutality, and unease with seeing Rick so utterly broken. We’ve heard Andrew Lincoln promising a brighter future ahead, though the actor now acknowledges some fan frustration, promising “this season made a lot more sense once we got the last roll of film in the can.”

Ever one to tow the company line, Andrew Lincoln made his case to Entertainment Weekly for the “challenging” nature of The Walking Dead Season 7's first half, claiming that the “immersive and painful” experience helps both actors and fans realize the characters need to want “justice” moreso than outright revenge. Still, to those put off by the eight-episode Odyssey of Rick’s desire to fight, Lincoln understands your pain:

Obviously, you don’t want [reactions] to be negative, but if you’re endeavoring to make something different and unique and challenging — and hopefully dangerous and new — sometimes it might provoke different reactions from people. And I stand by everybody telling this story, particularly the writers and everybody directing it. I think it’s a very brave, bold, and also challenging story that we’re attempting.

Lincoln also spoke to the week-long wait between episodes affording fans the opportunity to ruminate and shift their views, promising that Season 7 will seem much clearer once the finale credits have rolled: “I would say that this season made a lot more sense once we got the last roll of film in the can for episode 716.”

The Walking Dead will return on February 12, but will the back half of Season 7 live up to Lincoln’s optimism? Stay tuned for the latest.

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