P.M.-Dawn: 'Walking Dead' event at Level One Bar + Arcade

Erica Thompson

***Spoiler Alert! (Plot points for "The Walking Dead" season 7 premiere are discussed in this article.)

It was a good thing I was in a bar while watching the season 7 premiere of "The Walking Dead" on a recent Sunday. Given that it was one of the most brutal hours of television I've seen, alcohol definitely helped.

The North Side's Level One Bar + Arcade organized an entire event around the show, which was great because I don't have cable. Thanks to social media, I'm certain the episode would have been spoiled before I had the chance to watch it on iTunes Monday evening.

When I arrived at 8 p.m. the bar was empty, but I didn't care; I wanted first dibs on "The Walking Dead" pinball machine - which was free that night - and the promised swag. However, neither was available, so I ordered the "Michonne," an OYO Stone Fruit vodka drink named for one of the show's best characters. Thankfully, it was tasty and not too sweet; I try to stay away from fruity vodka drinks whenever possible, but this was a special occasion.

People began to trickle in and I started to inquire whom they thought the show's new villain, Negan, killed at the end of the previous season's cliffhanger finale. One gentleman believed it was Glenn and his pregnant wife, Maggie. Another guy, Greg, believed it was Abraham. Greg and I later struck up a conversation about chili from my hometown, Cincinnati (enough with the jokes about how it doesn't stick to the spoon, OK?). I was hoping he was a Browns fan so I could get him back by rubbing in the recent Bengals' victory. Unfortunately, he said he is from Texas, and showed off a mean pair of cowboy boots.

An older man told me the build-up to the premiere was reminiscent of the mystery behind "who shot J.R.," a reference I'm ashamed to admit I didn't get until he informed me he was talking about "Dallas," which I remembered starred the dad from "Step by Step," thank you very much.

Soon all questions were answered as we watched Negan use his bat, Lucille, to fatally pummel two characters. The second death elicited gasps and a loud expletive from the crowd. On some occasions I had to look away.

Luckily, I had moments of respite during commercial breaks when the bar hosted rounds of "Walking Dead" trivia. Amazingly, the first question was about the show's special effects crew, which I'd just written about in an article from last week's issue! I won a Funko vinyl figurine of Rick, the main protagonist and my favorite character.

I loved being in an environment where I felt free to expose my "Walking Dead" fanaticism. I definitely have to come back. After all, they still owe me a free turn on that pinball machine.