21 Oct Negan’s Three True Outcomes
Let’s be honest. We were all up in arms when The Walking Dead decided to end its sixth season with arguably one of the biggest cliffhangers in television history. It was sort of a dick-move on their part to announce the casting of Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan in the middle of season 5, tease his appearance every step of the way through season 6, and then not pay it off until the premiere of season 7. You see, Negan is The Walking Dead’s most savage villain to date in the comics, and fans who have stuck with the TV show through its more stagnant periods — like group’s wasted days on Hershel‘s farm or the fragmented lost season leading up to Terminis — have been feverishly waiting for Jeffrey Dean Morgan to rejuvenate the series by giving Rick and the gang their biggest Bad to deal with since the Governor.
When the credits rolled on the season six finale without seeing how Negan’s nightmare of a plate-appearance shaked out, The Walking Dead’s fanbase collectively lost their shit; creating petitions for AMC to reveal Negan’s victim to going as far as to quit watching the show altogether.
Overbearing sense of entitlement aside, fans had a right to be upset initially. I know I was, but I also realize that the season 6 cliffhanger was a necessary move for the show’s future. Although The Walking Dead ended last season as the biggest show on television with roughly 18.4 million viewers tuned in for its finale, the show’s viewership had started to slip in season 6 and the showrunning team saw fit to correct that trend before it became an issue.
With so much of our continued commitment to this show about the zombie apocalypse (that’s now over seven years and 83 episodes into its run) hindered on the survival of our favorite characters, what better way to generate anticipation for the season 7 premiere than to give your audience six months to agonize over who isn’t making it out of that first episode alive? After all, we saw how Game Of Thrones dominated TV conversation in their offseason between killing and resurrecting Jon Snow. The Walking Dead’s big reveal will turn their season 7 premiere into a must-watch event. Not to mention, isn’t finding out who Negan actually killed more important for the plot of season 7 than it would have been for season 6?
Anyway, to make another baseball analogy, Negan’s deadly AB can really only result in one of three possible True Outcomes. In other words, whatever Negan does has got to be huge for him to truly shake up the series, on his own, with just one swing of the bat (sorry, I did it again); and, after a grueling six months of speculation, the only way The Walking Dead can pay off this cliffhanger properly would be to eliminate a fan-favorite.
Vulture provided a list of speculative odds for who bites it in the season 7 premiere, and I believe we can narrow down that list a bit more. AMC’s sneak peek last week showed Rick with blood on the right side of his face in the wake of Negan’s barbaric beating, which means we can rule out Sasha, Aaron, Carl and Eugene who are positioned to his left. Killing Glenn the same way in the show as they did in the comics feels too easy considering how many times he’s Houdini-ed his way out of death (being tied to a chair and locked in a room with a walker, deathly ill in the prison, and the infamous dumpster bait-and-switch just to name a few off the top of my head), and killing a pregnant Maggie would be far too ruthless for even this show despite the fact that Lauren Cohan seems like she has the most viable post-Walking Dead career and would have no problems finding work after she leaves the show.
That leaves us with the trio of Abraham, Michonne, and Daryl. The TV version doesn’t like to squander big comic book moments, which leads me to believe that Abraham is most likely to go if they are keeping Glenn around since his comic book death was given to Denise; however, Michonne and Daryl would definitely make more of an emotional impact on the fanbase. Daryl doesn’t exist in the comics so he is the show’s most versatile character, and I feel like we are just starting to scratch the surface in terms of Michonne’s character depth so I’m having a really hard time trying to guess between these remaining three.
Based on the aforementioned Vulture odds, Michonne is probably the smartest bet to make at 7 to 1 (you know, if you happen to be in some sort of twisted, Walking Dead death pool). The way The Walking Dead blends it’s comic book and television arcs makes the two mediums feel as though they are alternate universes and timelines from each other. This could work against Michonne. For example, Sophia’s death in the show hardens her mother, Carol, and is the primary reason she’s been able to stick around long after her character is killed off in the comics. Andrea’s death in Woodbury leaves the door open for a Michonne/Rick union, which rounds out a strong character arc for Michonne in the show and makes her a prime candidate for a meaningful exit; but of course, that’s just a stab in the dark. The Walking Dead has gone to great lengths to keep their mystery from being solved, so your guess is as good as mine. Looks like we’ll just have to wait until Sunday to find out.