After much hype leading up to tonight's mid-season finale of The Walking Dead, I must admit I thought there would be more chaos. Maybe even more casualties? But considering the after-show sneak peek revolved around Negan, AMC may just be saving all the gore for next year.
First things first, spoiler alert! If you have not watched the mid-season finale and/or are not a fan of theories, predictions and such, make like Sam and find a small room to rock back and forth in whilst listening to the same record on repeat.
Now, let's spend a moment in silence to honor Deanna — this week's goner. She sacrificed herself to help Rick, and then she went down with a hell of a fight. You done good, Deanna.
As for the rest of the goings-on, they can essentially be summed up as so: Glenn and Enid are still outside the gates, Maggie is trapped above swarming walkers, Carol and Morgan faced off over Morgan's captive member of the Wolves, Morgan's captive member of the Wolves went rogue and made Denise his hostage, and Rick and the rest of the crew made meat curtains from zombie guts to act as walker camouflage.
Whew! That was a mouthful (ha ha, zombie humor). Oh, and this was essentially Sam:
So while the episode obviously had some memorable moments, the real excitement came in the sneak peek after the credits rolled.
We see Daryl, Sasha and Abraham come across a group of creepers on bikes blocking the road. The leader tells them to get out of the van and explains he wants everything they have — that "everything now belongs to Negan."
There it is, my friends. We already knew Negan would pop up sooner or later, and that moment has officially arrived. What does that mean for our heroes though? Well, let's explore what we know so far about the nefarious villain, Negan.
I, for one, could not have been more excited about the news that Morgan was cast to play Negan. Not that I wanted the Good Wife actor to be a bad guy, but because I've been a big fan of his for many, many years. I think he'll slay (sorry, couldn't resist) in the role. According to TV Line, Morgan will appear toward the end of Season 6 and will return in Season 7 — quite possibly as a series regular.
When The Walking Dead issued the casting call for Negan (which they did under the guise of a character named "Orin"), they described him as an "imposing, charismatic, brutal, frightening, ferocious and hilarious sociopath in his 30s to mid-40s that is both a leader and killer of men." Like many of the most vile people in history, part of what makes Negan so dangerous is his ability to charm and appeal to so many people, despite being so evil.
In Robert Kirkman's comic series on which the show is based, Negan leads a group of 50 or so survivors in Washington, DC, dubbed the "Saviors" or "Negan's Saviors." They essentially steal from other survivors and act as dictators in exchange for supposed protection from the walkers. So, yeah, the name's ironic, given the Saviors' tendency to beat and kill people.
Can we just go ahead and hope this is one of those times the show strays from the storyline in the comic series? Please? We already almost lost Glenn this season, and you saw how unwilling I was to accept Glenn's death. So I certainly don't want to think about the fact that the comic series very graphically includes Negan murdering Glenn with a barbwire-wrapped baseball bat. Seriously, you guys, the show can't do everything in the comics verbatim, right? I'm choosing to fully believe Glenn will be an exception.
In other things that would really suck if they transpired, there's a rumor going around that the show — perhaps in a bid to keep comic fans on their toes — actually has Negan kill off Daryl instead of Glenn. This all started with a leaked video that appeared to show Negan swinging Lucille (his barbwire-wrapped bat) at someone kneeling next to Glenn. Fans speculate the person looks too much like Daryl not to be Daryl.
Supposedly, Kirkman conceptualized the character Negan to avoid a situation where Rick would have to kill Glenn in order to protect his son, Carl. Apparently, Carl is very central to this part of the survivors' story. With Negan in the picture, Kirkman simply rerouted the direction a bit. According to the comics, Negan grows fond of Carl — which means this kid might actually be getting some meatier material in the next season or so.
Negan and his Saviors live in an abandoned factory called "Sanctuary," where most of the women (even the ones married or otherwise with other men in the community) amount to a virtual harem for Negan. What will this mean for Alexandria's survivors such as Michonne, Rosita, Maggie and Jessie?
Ultimately, Negan's arrival heralds a bigger threat to our heroes than they've ever faced — bigger than the Governor, bigger than even the walkers themselves. In the comics, Negan wages a war against Rick and the company that could very well lead to the fall of whatever ideals of Alexandria are left. In the process, we will meet lots o' new characters... both friends and foes. Don't just take my word for it, though. In a recent interview this month with EW, Kirkman teased the rivalry to end all rivalries.
"When it comes to the Saviors, and Negan in particular, the way I've always thought about this in the comics is this is a group that's led by a guy who's had his morality dial a few clicks away from Rick toward the darker aspects of his personality, but is still an intellectual and capable leader who's kept his group alive against all odds just as long as Rick has. It's really the best encountering the best. When these two forces come head-to-head, things are gonna get interesting. This is a much different group than they've ever encountered. The Saviors are a group they're not really prepared for," says Kirkman.
Here's the unfortunate truth: The Walking Dead has to come to an end at some point. And I'm not even saying that is in the near future, but it is inevitably in the future. Thus far, we've been on the upward swing of getting to know these characters and this world, but Negan could signal the start of our survivors' undoing. Explains Kirkman, "As far as shake-ups go, we have lots of shake-ups from season to season. It keeps things interesting — keeps the blood pumping, I like to say — but Negan is kind of an atomic bomb that's going to be dropped on the show, and the show will probably never be the same after that. So buckle up, I guess?"
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