This article contains MAJOR SPOILERS for The Walking Dead TV series and comics.
The Walking Dead season 6 finale is here, which means that we'll finally get our first look at a brand new villain as well as a bloody confrontation between the Alexandrians and the Saviors. If you're wondering how Negan's arrival on the show might play out, what you should expect, when to cover your eyes in fear, we're taking a look back at the source material for some hints!
Scott Gimple has been pretty faithful to the Robert Kirkman comics since taking over as showrunner, and I don't see any sign of that stopping, especially with the latest casting news. So I've written up a roadmap for what's to come in the bottom half of season 6 based on the comics.
First off, for those looking to catch up on the comic books before diving in - or maybe if you want to read along with the show - these are the comic book arcs and issues that will most likely be adapted in the last eight episodes: "No Way Out" (#79-84), "We Find Ourselves" (#85-90), "A Larger World" (#91-96), and "Something to Fear" (#97-102). Yes, the casting of Paul "Jesus" Monroe, Gregory, and Negan is a pretty good indicator that there will be a lot of road covered (or at least alluded to) in the next few weeks, especially when we know for a fact that all three characters will appear this season.
Second, I have to warn you again that the rest of this article contains MAJOR SPOILERS for both The Walking Dead TV show and the comic books. So, after this picture of our spoiler walker, you're on your own:
Based on what we've seen in the trailers for the midseason premiere - 6x09 "No Way Out" - the episode will pick up right where we left off: Rick, Jessie, Sam, Ron, Carl, and Michonne are trying to sneak out of Alexandria in their zombie guts costumes. We can hear Sam calling his mom at the end of the midseason finale, which leads me to believe that Jessie and her kids will pretty much suffer the same fate as in the comics. Basically, the Anderson family becomes a walker buffet:
If Greg Nicotero and Seth Hoffman, who are directing and writing "No Way Out" respectively, are feeling extra brutal, they'll even reproduce the moment where Rick is forced to chop Jessie's hand off with an ax in order to free Carl, who's been holding her hand the entire time. The chances of this particular scene happening are pretty good, too, especially since this teaser image for the midseason premiere was released a few weeks back:
You can probably argue that's Morgan's hand on the right, and you'd probably be correct, but I think this is just more attempts at AMC to mislead the viewers. After all, remember when the season 6 trailer teased a confrontation between Morgan and Rick last summer? Not buying it. Speaking of which, Morgan dies in issue #83 after being bit during the walker attack in Alexandria. No reason he couldn't suffer the same fate on the show...except that Gimple went to a lot of trouble (and teasing) to put him back on the show in the first place. The midseason premiere would probably be too soon to kill off the character.
Anyway, with Rick, Carl, and Michonne freed of the dead weight (haha), there's still one thing that's a little fuzzy: what's going to happen to Carl in this episode?! I talked a little bit about this in my last spoiler-filled preview, specifically whether Carl would lose an eye or not by the midseason finale. I predicted that, yes, we'd see one-eyed Carl make his debut in that episode, and that Deanna (Douglas in the comics) would be the one to accidentally shoot him while she was being mauled by walkers. This did not happen. Deanna got a different, more merciful kind of death...which is fine. But that still leaves the question of whether we'll see this at all:
This would certainly spice up Carl's storyline a bit. He doesn't ever really get much to do on the show, so blowing his right eye off and giving him an eye patch might be just the ticket. But who's going to shoot the dude? With Deanna gone, Gimple has to get a bit creative with this, doesn't he? My guess is that Ron will get another shot at Carl, especially after he tried the same thing in the midseason finale...God, I just want that miserable kid to get eaten already.
So, I don't blame you for wanting to know more about Daryl, Abraham, and Sasha's confrontation with the Saviors. We'll certainly see that play out in the same episode as the above, but I can't quite confidently tell you how it's gonna go based on the comics. Gimple is taking a bit of a shortcut here, introducing the Saviors a bit earlier than they appear in Kirkman's stuff. And I kind of like that since the material between "No Way Out" and "A Larger World" is kind of boring. (Not to mention that the main portion of "We Find Ourselves" played out with the Carter storyline in the season 6 premiere last October.)
What we'll most likely see between Daryl, Abraham, Sasha, and the Saviors is a similar scene out of issue #97, the first part of "Something to Fear." In that issue, Rick, Michonne, Andrea (still alive), Glenn, and Carl are stopped by the Saviors on the road back to the Alexandria Safe-Zone from the Hilltop Colony (we'll get to this in a minute).
In this scene, the Saviors tell Rick and friends that they have to give up their stuff as a tribute to Negan, their leader. When Rick refuses...things get ugly. Basically, our heroes murder the shit out of these bikers, leaving one guy alive to run back to Negan and deliver a message: Leave us alone. Rick hopes that this will convince the villain (who no one has met yet) to leave Alexandra and Hilltop Colony alone. He is SO wrong.
Expect Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham to pull the upset, even if they are grossly outnumbered. Besides, AMC will never kill off the man with the golden crossbow.
I left Carl in the lurch, didn't I? Some brief notes about Alexandria before we move on to Hilltop Colony and Paul "Jesus" Monroe:
Carl survives his latest shitty situation - this kid only seems to be around to get shot - thanks to Denise, who's been taken captive on the show by Wolfie (the Wolves Leader). She isn't kidnapped in the comics, and I don't expect her to really be escorted off to Wolf Land, either. If Carl does get shot, she's the one who saves him, especially since she's the only doctor left on the show. I don't think AMC is ready to kill off Carl yet.
Rick's son spends some time in a coma, which allows our protagonist to reflect on his decisions thus far. He realizes that Alexandria can have a future, especially after all of the people left in the Safe-Zone band together to slaughter the walker horde. (For real, the Alexandrians show what they're made of at the end of "No Way Out.") This allows Rick to have hope in the future, that he can truly help build the new world in Alexandria. Basically, Rick decides to finally be a leader.
Like I said, "We Find Ourselves" slows things down a bit, focusing on character development we've seen on the show already. One thing we'll probably see in the episodes following the midseason premiere is Rick's plan to rebuild the Safe-Zone, making the walls stronger and increasing security. The Alexandrians will also warm to Rick's leadership. Carter's too dead to spark a coup at this point. (It was Nicholas in the comics, who is also quite dead.)
Time to move on to "A Larger World," which I suspect will get the most play in the bottom half of the season. As the title suggests, the Alexandrians discover they're not the only survivor settlement in the Washington area. A big part of that discovery is due to Paul "Jesus" Monroe's first appearance in the comics - that's issue #91, by the way. Paul will be played by Tom Payne (Luck) on the show.
Nicknamed "Jesus" due to his long hair and beard, Paul is a recruiter for the Hilltop Colony, which is about twenty miles away from Alexandria. The character is first introduced to readers as a mysterious dude watching the Safe-Zone from afar with binoculars. It's a pretty creepy intro, and things only get more uncomfortable after he reveals himself to Michonne and Abraham, who he is forced to subdue (quite easily, in fact) when they don't take too kindly to him. Paul takes Abraham hostage and tells Michonne to set up a meeting with Rick.
A lot of this plays out like Aaron's introduction in season 5. Rick doesn't trust this new stranger, knocks him out, and ties him up. Paul is held captive in Alexandria for a while, but manages to convince Rick that he is just there to negotiate trading between the two settlements. I wonder if Gimple will want to go down this familiar path again, especially since we just saw a similar situation play out last year. My guess is that he probably will, since this will keep tensions high for an episode or two while the show tells more character-focused stories.
I think that by the final couple of episodes of the season, the group will be split up again, too. In the comics, Rick, Michonne, Glenn, Andrea, and Carl (he sneakily tags along for the ride) decide to take Paul back to the Hilltop and scout the place out for possible enemies. Rick fears that this could just be another Woodbury/Terminus situation in the making. Of course, sending these guys off to Hilltop allows for Alexandria to be attacked again...Gimple's introduction of the Saviors so early on will probably pay off around this point.
Rick and the group arrive at the Hilltop in issue #94, and it's a seemingly peaceful place. There aren't even any weapons. Which is why Negan and the Saviors are able to harass them whenever they want. I'd say we won't see the Hilltop until a couple episodes into the second half of the season (much like Alexandria's introduction last year).
So let's look at how this might all pan out...
We will likely be introduced to Gregory, the leader of the Hilltop Colony, but probably won't learn too much about him beyond the fact that he's played by Xander Berkeley (24). So we won't get into him too heavily here. He'll be a regular next season, plenty of time to spill the beans on Gregory then. It's worth noting that Gregory's introduction in issue #95 (this is still technically "A Larger World") is a bit hectic, since Negan tries to have him assassinated by another member of the Hilltop Colony. For better or worse, (it gets a lot worse) Gregory survives, though.
The stuff at the Hilltop will probably run parallel to Negan's debut on the show. Which means we have to jump ahead here a bit in terms of "Something to Fear," since the group's first confrontation with the Saviors on the show happens in the midseason premiere. We're looking specifically at issues #98-100.
We know Negan, played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchmen), will appear in the tail end of the season, and a leaked video from The Walking Dead set late last year reveals that his iconic moment from issue #100 has already been filmed. This confirms we'll get at least ONE big death by the end of the season.
There are two major deaths in "Something to Fear." The first is Abraham, who is out beyond the walls of the Safe-Zone with Eugene when he is suddenly shot through the head with an arrow by the Saviors:
Abraham isn't killed by Negan, but by another Savior named Dwight, who has grisly scars due to the fact that Negan once ironed his face...Anyway, we'll probably learn more about Dwight in season 7, too.
Our last moments with season 6 will probably be spent meeting Negan's best friend Lucille, a baseball bat covered in barbed wire, which he used in issue #100 to randomly kill...Glenn...in one of the most gruesome scenes ever portrayed in the comics:
THE DUDE'S EYEBALL POPS OUT OF ITS SOCKET IN A LATER PANEL. Oh, and by the way, this is Negan's introduction in the comics. Negan and the Saviors ambush Rick, Carl, Glenn, Maggie, Sophia (still alive), Michonne, and Heath on a second trip to the Hilltop. The psychotic leader demands retribution for the Saviors Rick (or in the show's case, Daryl) killed on the road. Glenn pays the ultimate price.
The way I see it, the show will condense this stuff a bit. For one thing, we'll probably only see one trip to the Hilltop. And then Rick and friends will probably be ambushed on their way back from the Hilltop, while Alexandria is also being attacked by another group of Negan's men. The question is whether Gimple will effectively kill off two main characters in the season finale. (Abraham's death could ideally happen in the penultimate episode - right at the end - but he's probably too big of a character to kill off in anything other than the finale...) I'd be overjoyed if we got two "holy shit" moments, especially after the stunt the show pulled with Glenn in the first half of the season. That actually brings me to another point:
These guys can't POSSIBLY kill off Glenn this season. Because that would be too much bullshit to handle from one character arc. So I'd say Gimple will cut some corners here, keeping things to one death on the show, and sacrificing Abraham in Glenn's stead. Skip the arrow to the head and go straight for the bat. That said, someone else could take Glenn's place in the finale...
Fan theories include Morgan (I could totally see that, since he's supposed to be dead by this point, anyway) and Daryl, who is constantly on the chopping block in your darkest nightmares. But you know better than that.
Either way, we'll get one big death by season's end if Gimple sticks to the comics. And he totally will.
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