The zombiepocalyptic version of “Who shot J.R.?” is “Who got beaten to death with a barbed-wire-covered baseball bat?”
This is the moment that fans of The Walking Dead knew was coming. As survivors of the zombie hordes have grouped off into well-secured settlements, the pre-apocalyptic thugs have found a new outlet for their thuggery: making other communities the have-nots to supply their own survival. Enter Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), who wields that bat and calls it Lucille, gives a scary monologue after disembarking a Winnebago, demands servitude and scavenging from his captives, and will take revenge for any perceived wrongs to his group dubbed the Saviors.
As we saw in last night’s season finale (SPOILERS), the Saviors can pop out of any brush, build roadblocks with zombies, and set giant flaming roadblocks of Lincoln Logs. Some of our main characters from Alexandria had been captured in the previous episode. In the finale, several more set out to take Maggie (Lauren Cohan) to a neighboring community for medial care when she has problems with her pregnancy.
Escaping the Saviors’ assault were Morgan (Lennie James) and Carol (Melissa McBride). The hard-to-kill Carol was being shot one limb at a time by a Savior hellbent on revenge when Morgan found her and killed him. And that introduced them to a new community, as guys on horses wearing armor and bearing spears offered to treat Carol’s injuries. Actually, their story arc probably served dual duty to introduce a community and hint toward Morgan and Carol eventually hooking up (they’d make a great couple, now unified in their conscientious objector status).
But back at the Saviors’ eerie camp, Negan was playing eeny-meenie-minie-moe to pick a murder victim. The slaying was shot from the point of view from the victim, so many fans’ first guess on who was killed was understandably “the cameraman.” And while many on Twitter cried foul over the cliffhanger — with a show not to return until October — it does make sense in a season finale.
Showrunner Scott Gimple told the AMC after-show that there were clues about which character met his or her end. In another interview, though, Gimple insisted there’s “no way” for fans to figure out with certainty which character met Lucille. “There are a couple of things in there that might help people, possibly limit the amount of people who are vulnerable,” he said. “But I would rather people not go down that route because I truly don’t think there is a way to puzzle it out definitively.”
So let’s narrow this down to the group kneeling before Negan:
Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln): The deputy sheriff turned community leader is most likely alive. Negan was enjoying watching his adversary kneel before him, and was killing a member of the Alexandria clan as a message to Rick to not mess with him (and to not kill any more of his men). By killing another, Negan was torturing Rick.
Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs): Rick’s son is most likely alive because of a comment Negan made before beating the unseen character to death. “Anybody moves, anybody says anything, cut the boy’s other eye out and feed it to his father,” the villain said. Carl had one eye shot out in an earlier episode. Some took this comment, though, to mean that Negan would cut out the eye after killing Carl.
Michonne (Danai Gurira): She fears no Negan, as was evidenced by the stare she gave the villain before he committed his dastardly deed. Seems like this bravery would work into a future episode of Michonne and her katana vs. Negan and his bat. Plus, the show’s writers finally made Rick and Michonne happen, sending Twitter aflutter over the long-awaited romance. Not that Rick has the best luck with his women staying alive.
My aesthetic: Michonne looking Negan dead straight in the face as he walks by pic.twitter.com/SDThqavp0H
— ˗ˏˋria (@ravnboy) April 4, 2016
Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz): The ginger soldier also faced down his potential killer with steely-eyed resolve — though he may have actually been the one targeted. Did the writers give him just enough cuddly moments in the season for fans to feel extra-upset at his loss? Which brings us to…
Sasha Williams (Sonequa Martin-Green): Abraham just recently found romance with the Alexandria community’s sharpshooter. She and Abraham both escaped murder from Saviors henchmen during the mid-season premiere. These types of shows traditionally have a way of telling characters they have nine lives and no more, but The Walking Dead has broken that unwritten rule before.
Rosita Espinosa (Christian Serratos): Abraham broke up with her to pursue Sasha. Would her death be the writers’ overdramatic way of pushing off a character?
Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus): The motorcycle bow-and-arrow pro was sitting next to Gimple during the after-show, leading some to believe that it was his final bow. That, and he’s got his own AMC reality series launching soon. He was shot and wounded right before that showdown with Negan. He’s a big fan favorite, though, so that would be wandering into some Game of Thrones territory of bumping off key characters.
Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt): Could he have met his end? Perhaps. Eugene tried to create a distraction with their RV to allow the rest of the group to walk Maggie to get medical care. He seemed to be saying his goodbyes then, including passing his bullet recipe to Rick. He got acknowledgement from Abraham that he was brave and not a wuss. He was ready to take one for the team.
Aaron (Ross Marquand): It’s hard to remember that this original member of the Alexandria Safe-Zone was kneeling with the rest of the crew last night, so if the writers want a character death with emotional impact it won’t be Aaron. If they want fans to be angry at six months of suspense but get over it quickly, it will be Aaron.
Maggie: She wasn’t looking like she was faring too well from her pregnancy complications, so either Negan picked her as the most vulnerable member of the group and least likely to fight back or bypassed her thinking she wouldn’t last long anyway. But was that her scream we heard as Negan was doing the deed? If so, maybe it was…
Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun): Maggie’s husband had earlier escaped a rather improbable dive into a pit of zombies with the horde inexplicably only chewing the body on top of him, giving him time to scurry under a dumpster unscathed. Fast-forward to the Negan showdown, and Glenn cried out and tried to reach Maggie as soon as he saw her. Negan would have been drawn to killing a character with a deep emotional attachment to the survivors in the group; that sends his macabre message. Plus, someone slowed the audio down and believes that these clues point to Glenn as the victim.