The Walking Dead
Season 7, Ep. 1 | Airs Oct. 23
We’ve been on pins and needles since we first heard Negan was going to appear on AMC’s adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s comic book series. The charismatic maniac has been a fan favorite since his first appearance in issue 100. But the delight we’ve found in Negan has not been without controversy. After all, when we first met the leader of the survivor group known as The Saviors, he was using his beloved baseball bat to turn one of our favorite characters’ head inside out.
When we finally did get to see Negan brought to live action, Jeffy Dean Morgan’s portrayal did not disappoint. His costuming: precise. His performance: exacting. The atmosphere of the scene: electrifying. Across the country, Walking Dead fans were on the edge of their seat to see how the introduction of Negan on the television show would compare to his first appearance in the comics.
And then, suddenly, we didn’t know.
As noted earlier, Negan’s first appearance in The Walking Dead #100 came with an iconic, disturbing, and incredibly memorable death. It went without saying that Negan’s first appearance in the show would do the same. And while it did, we were left wondering who exactly had died.
Tonight, after months of waiting, we finally get to find out. But while we would have loved to know who died months ago, we’ve had fun guessing who it might be. So we wanted to celebrate the last few hours of not knowing with our final theories on who Negan may have killed. Plus, we’ve got a bonus theory about tonight’s episode you might not have seen coming.
Abraham has been our leading candidate for who may die in tonight’s episode for a few months now. Last season, Abraham had a number of moments that we might have expected to see in his “bucket episode”. His character arc was definitely one of the most noteworthy of the season. The back half of the season gave him a special focus, showing him living past his comic book death to instead develop a new level to his relationship with many members of the group. Up until the season finale, things were even looking up for Big Red- who had found himself thinking about his future.
None of this has ever been good for a character on The Walking Dead. It has almost become a running gag on the show that as soon as a character finds happiness, death cannot be far behind. Add to that a rumored sighting of Abraham actor Michale Cudlitz in Disney World with black hair while the rest of the cast was filming in Georgia, and it seems relatively safe to say we may have seen the last of Sgt. Abraham Ford.
Sasha is essentially a candidate for all the same reasons as Abraham, but her death seems a little less likely. She was dealing with many of the same problems as Abraham, struggling to find her place in the group. And, just like Abraham, she had resolved those problems to become a more regular presence on the show week after week. She and Abraham even began a romantic relationship with each other. Again, here we’re forced to recognize that happiness in the zombie apocalypse usually means you’re about to die.
But Sasha has one pretty big thing going for her: she is a woman. In the comic books, Negan has very particular rules which accompany his incredible acts of senseless violence. He abhors most violence against women. And from our very brief sighting of Negan last season, the AMC adaptation seems to be keeping their character pretty close to Kirkman’s original version. If that’s true, Sasha may have won herself a little bit of plot armor.
There’s no way Daryl will die tonight. Just no way. AMC doesn’t want to risk losing the millions of possible rioters who tune in every week just to see Norman Reedus’ magnificent hair. Even though his character doesn’t appear in the comics, Reedus’ Daryl has become a mainstay of the series. Many even expected him to have crossed over into the comic book just before the infamous issue #100 that introduced Negan. His appeal is just too broad. They will not kill them.
Wouldn’t it be awesome? The whole idea with Negan and his baseball bat of death is supposed to be that it sets him up as a character you have to hate. He undercuts any sense of hope the reader/audience has for the future. His message is a simple one: no one is safe. And what better way to get that message across than to have him smash in the head of someone who everyone thinks cannot die.
But like we said, he won’t die.
Maggie has found herself on the chopping block more and more recently as eagle eyed viewers try to develop theories about who Negan took out in the season finale. There was one video making the rounds which had isolated different bits of audio that we heard behind Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s monologue . The belief here was that viewers would be able to figure out who might be under attack from hearing other survivors call out to them. And we did hear one very interesting thing. What sounded like Maggie calling out “Glenn!”. And while some thought that meant Glenn was the one being attacked, maybe we were really hearing Maggie’s last words.
The other big clue that has recently made the rounds online is from a film clip released at New York Comic Con. There, Negan is lecturing Rick about the importance of a right hand man. He then drags our hero away into the very same RV we saw him get out of in the finale, and the camera pans down to reveal a mess of blood and human tissue. Some viewers have claimed that in that mess, we see Maggie’s wedding ring. And while we do have to admit that Negan doesn’t usually attack women, and that killing a pregnant woman so dramatically would be shocking, the clues are starting to be too much for us to ignore.
Oh Glenn. Poor, poor Glenn. There was a time when we were sure he was safe. AMC had already given him one possible death scene in the season. Surely that would be enough. What character could possibly deserve two possible deaths in one season? Well, it turns out it was Glenn Rhee – a nice guy just trying to make his way through the zombie apocalypse with his pregnant wife and best buddies.
Of course, most theorists have pointed to Glenn because he dies in this plot in the comics in Issue #100. But recently another theory has begun to take shape online. Maybe, Negan kills two people. And if that is the case, what better way for the show to break our hearts the first week back then by killing Glenn and Maggie? It does seem dramatic, but to kill the original victim from the comics, then have the villain turn around and kill his wife too, while she’s crying over his body? That would make us all the happier when we finally see Rick Grimes bight Negan’s throat out (or… you know… whatever.)
Bonus Theory: Rick’s Hand
As fans of the comic know, Rick loses his hand when he first meets The Governor, and has spent the majority of the comic’s run with only his left hand. This is the biggest difference between the show’s portrayal of Rick Grimes and the version of the character we see in the comics. But with a season premier titled “Right Hand Man”, and a show desperate for us to loathe the new villain in town, will AMC finally come around on the idea of a one-handed-protagonist?
Or is this just a tease to comics fans who think they know what’s coming? Kirkman has said in the past that he likes to change things up to keep fans of the comic and show purists alike on the edge of their seat. Judging by the previous six seasons, we only know a few things for sure: no one is safe, and anything is possible.
The Walking Dead airs on AMC, Sundays at 9:00 PM.