It's not fun to go from badass to sorry ass, and "The Walking Dead" star Andrew Lincoln didn't like seeing the weak side of Rick Grimes any more than fans did.

Rick had been down before, but he had never been so helpless and borderline pathetic as in the first eight episodes of Season 7. He just stood and watched as Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) killed his friends, kidnapped his friends, and beat up his friends. He missed Negan holding and kissing Judith, but it would've just been par for the course. Rick was emasculated, and Andy Lincoln was happier than anyone to see Rick get his manhood back in the Season 7 midseason finale.

Lincoln talked to Entertainment Weekly about Rick's journey leading up to, during, and after this first half of the season:

"It sucks for that first half of the season to be a guy that led this group for so long — and they've been not without their trials and tribulations but there's always been some semblance of hope in Rick — and to have that beaten out of him is heartbreaking, at least it was for me. I did not enjoy filming on set. I was not a happy camper. To have unity, just the beginnings of the flame being ignited again, was enough to get me excited for the back eight."

Lincoln told AMC it has been "uncomfortable" playing Rick in Season 7 so far:

"...I think we see a man who has not given up, but who has certainly realized that there's a new formidable man with an incredibly powerful army, so his only answer is to acquiescence. I absolutely wish that weren't the case, and it's been incredibly uncomfortable playing him for the first seven episodes, but fortunately we're at a huge turning point in Episode 8. It was such a relief! [Laughs]... Those have been the challenges as an actor – trying to convey as much as you can in very few lines. It's been a very strange half season for me, but in terms of story, it's vital for the show."

Lincoln told EW that, to him, Rick swallowed his pride for too long in the first half ("come on, kick some ass!") but it showed an amazing turnaround from the cocksure, close-minded guy he was last season:

"I think that he's learned countless lessons about bad decision-making, about listening to others, about compassion, about foresight, all of these qualities that I think pride may have got the better of him and blinded him to. What happened actually is very exciting and you can't get more dangerous than somebody who's lost everything and has nothing left to lose. In spite of him not having a thing but a loaded gun, they still are quite a formidable outfit. I think that that was what I wanted from that final scene. They're almost like individual chambers with a loaded gun — they're strong in unity. It's the beginning of the insurgence, but there's still a way to come."

"The beginning of the insurgence" is what we wanted to hear -- and why we loved seeing AMC's new "Rise Up" poster, with Rick back in focus as the leader. We missed him actually leading the group instead of being so passive. Let's do this!

"The Walking Dead" returns February 12, 2017 on AMC.

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