Soon after learning about Carol’s quiet departure from Alexandria, Daryl goes speeding out of the town on his motorcycle and creates some alarm for the disappearance of some of their best fighters as they prepare for a potential battle with the Saviors. Following suit, Glenn, Michonne, and Rosita take off to track Daryl, while Rick and Morgan go searching for Carol. When Glenn’s group finds Daryl, they reveal his obsession with getting back at Dwight for killing Denise and his role in the brunt forest. For Rick and Morgan, they discover the remains of a battle on the road where it appears Carol fought off a group of men in a pickup truck. They continue their search but neglect to catch that one of the men survived the attack and is trailing them.
Carol’s Last Stand: It has been building for a while. Carol continues down a spiral of despair over the murders she has committed. While one could argue that she should feel justified in her need to kill for survival and to protect the ones she loves, the weight of the death against her rekindling of her religion has made the experience excruciating for her. She clearly still prepares for the potential of a fight, e.g. sewing the gun into her sleeve, but she has also broken down in tears multiple times now as she fights off the Saviors. As the body count keeps going up, her sanity will likely continues to fade.
Not the Time to Split Up: While Rick clearly cares about his people as a family, it seems like the wrong time to go in different directions to track down the rogues. There are clearly some fighters back at home, e.g. Abraham, Sasha, Maggie, and Carl, but they best fighters are chasing down an enraged Daryl and an unpredictable Carol. This is creating a clear opportunity for the Saviors to strike. They appear to already have their intel to know about the community and somewhat about the people, so now they just need to pick off the group one by one. This, of course, led to the capture of Michonne, Glenn, Rosita, and Daryl at the end of the episode and the infamous shooting of Daryl in the shoulder by Dwight. He does not appear to have taken a fatal wound, even though that was a lot of blood that shot at the camera.
Continued Controversy Over Ideals: The pairing of Rick and Morgan going after Carol was an intentional one. Their philosophies over how to survive have taken drastically different paths, much like the disagreements between Morgan and Carol. Rick kills without thinking at times, like when he interrogates, does not get an answer, and then plunges a knife into his captive’s head. At the farm, there was a moment when Rick would have killed the man they discovered looking for his horse, but a combination of Morgan and a cluster of walkers were able to distract him long enough to prevent the death. In that moment after their fought off the walkers, Morgan was able to redeem himself for the more passive way his has dealt with the atrocities around him, explaining that saving the Wolf led to the saving of Denise and then she saved Carl after he was shot. This “circle of life” moment prevented Rick from having to bury his son too early. They went their separate ways, but a clear respect had been rekindled in that moment.
The Moment of Truth: The season has been leading up to the big reveal of Negan. We know the actor and have seen a few images, but the biggest question still remains…who meets their end to Negan’s baseball bat Lucille? Here are my top candidates and theories.
Glenn can’t escape this one. For all the times that Glenn has escaped death, this has been the most foreshadowed moment of his demise. The comics work against him because everyone knows that he meets his end at this point of the story and in front of Maggie. Glenn is the one who sees the pictures in the Savior compound of others who met with Lucille. Glenn also had his first human kill in that attack, meaning that his killing virginity is gone and horror movie standards would dictate that he is now vulnerable to meeting his end. While this is the most likely situation, Steven, the actor, has no significant upcoming projects other than his role on this show.
Daryl dies, everyone riots. The gunshot wound was not fatal. It would be one of the weakest ways to go out and Dwight does not deserve to be the man who takes down Daryl Dixon. Megan could be that person. Daryl has quite the body count of the Saviors. He blew up the group on the road with the rocket launcher. Megan may have actually been in a car in the background at the time, as theory has projected in an analysis of the scene. He kills several of their people in the compound. He fought off some of the Saviors during Dwight’s first attack on the road. He is one of Alexandria’s best fighters, but he also has had a diminished story ever since Beth’s death and Carol’s story focusing more toward her inner conflict. Norman has a lot of outside projects which could challenge his ability to continue on the show, and there was the interview where he said that he “played” Daryl Dixon. That might just be a slip-up, but we will know very soon.
Carol’s heroics get her killed. Several times in the series, Carol has stepped in at the last moment to save the group, with the most significant moment being at Terminus. Her conflict has her at a place where she cannot live with herself and her killing ways, but she also will never truly abandon her family. She has racked up a body count as well with her conflicted but deadly encounters with the Saviors. She is currently off on her own and could be captured or find herself in a failed attempt to save her group. In the comics, Negan does not kill women, but this is not the comics and the producers have said they will take a strong left turn in the telling of this story.
Abraham asks no more questions. Now starts the characters who don’t seem likely to bite the bullet, or meet Lucille up close, but could potentially be in danger. In the comics, he would have switched places with Denise and met his end from Dwight. Instead, he continues to be in the fight. Negan may know that he was present during the encounter with the biker gang, but Abraham’s death to Negan lacks the significance this introduction would indicate. He would be a safer pick to kill though because of the fans’ love of mainstays, including Daryl, Rick, Carol, and Michonne. The story could move on without him, but would fans feel satisfied?
Rick takes one for the team. This is actually my least likely prediction. He is the center of this story and I don’t see this show pulling a Ned Stark circa Game of Thrones. Still, this would be a shocker and one that would be the strong left turn the producers have hinted at. Who steps up to lead? How does the group get revenge?
Maggie falls in front of her love. We know Glenn has been captured and can guess that Maggie is not far behind. She needs to get to the Hilltop for medical help. She collapsed at the end of the last episode. If she finds herself in front of Negan, she would be a shocking loss after surviving the entire rest of her family. In addition, one of the original versions of the comic included a situation where Negan gives Rick a gun and forces him to choose to shoot Glenn or Maggie. He ends up shootings Glenn after hearing his pleas to save his wife. Could they take that concept and merge it into the upcoming scene?
Rosita has little to fight for. Also not big enough to be the impactful death we are waiting for, Rosita is in a lost place at the moment. Single for the first time and distraught after learning that Sasha has stolen her former lover. There is potential for her to be with Eugene (another character who seems to be limited in his story development but who did discover the machinery to produce bullets), but there is no guarantee that they would end up together as she currently has a thing with Spencer. This still goes against Negan’s choice not to kill women, but it could be a secondary death.
Michonne’s death is Rick’s motivation. In a stunning turn, Michonne could meet her end to Negan. Again, this goes against his ideals, but it could serve as motivation for Rick moving forward. We also know that the women in Rick’s life are never really safe. She will not have her sword to protect her. Danai is also very active outside of the show and could be refocusing her attention on new projects.
Any other option does not seem possible at this point. There are no other characters that have been teased to potentially get captured and none of them seem significant enough of a death to match the arrival of Negan. Bringing on such a major character also stretches the size of the cast a bit, as Dwight will also be more significant moving forward as well.
Another Potential Surprise Death: While we are focusing on the arrival of Negan, the episode is a 90-minute one. This provides more time for more challenges for Rick’s group. There will need to be something done to save Maggie from the pregnancy challenges she is experiencing. That means they have to travel between communities and Negan’s group is clearly out there. The assumption is that the only confrontation will be when Rick gets captured and joins the rest of his group for Negan’s reveal. There is also the possibility that Abraham’s comic fate could spring up during their travel or that someone else finds themselves in danger.
The episode fans have been waiting for is only a day away. Theories are about to be answered and someone is meeting their end…but who? Hopefully it does not end in a cliffhanger as it could.
In Memoriam: more of Negan’s crew (by Carol’s and Rick’s hands)
Question of the Week: If Rick were to fall by Negan’s bat, who would take his place as the leader of Alexandria?