The Walking Dead Season 6 finale has prompted all sorts of spoilers and alleged spoilers, particularly as to the much-anticipated TV arrival of comic book villain Negan and his barbed-wire-covered baseball bat that he lovingly calls Lucille, an event that the entire run of episodes in 2015-2016 has been building toward.
Based on what happened in the TWD comic book which inspired the TV series, and in leaked audio/video of the finale, Negan will “lucille” one of the fan-favorite heroes that he’s captured.
But which one will die?
And will we actually know the identity of Negan’s victim by the time the 90-minute season-ender comes to a close Sunday night or will the Team Rick fatality be left as a cliffhanger for Season 7?
In the graphic novel, as virtually everyone knows by now, Glenn gets his skull crushed by Negan, but since he’s already been “killed” once this season, this probably seems to be a non-starter.
Negan (portrayed by Jeffrey Dean Morgan in what is perhaps now the best gig in America) is the leader of the extortion-and-murder-cult known as the Saviors who have opportunistically seized on the zombie apocalypse to create their own criminal enterprise.
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Assuming Rick and his son, Carl, are entirely off limits from Negan’s retaliation, further speculation has centered on Daryl, Carol, or Abraham, the latter being more fitting in that he’s a second-tier Walking Dead character who ironically has opened himself up to love someone else finally. In the TV/movie world, a fictional character displaying that kind of emotional breakthrough probably shouldn’t be signing any long-term leases or picking out furniture. Plus, Denise suffered the fate that took down Abraham in the comic.
— The Walking Dead (@TheWalkingDead) April 2, 2016
Carol? No, she’s got other fish to fry, or perhaps cookies to bake, in a separate storyline involving Morgan.
Perhaps a minor player will die, like Aaron, who has had very few lines in the back end of Season 6, at least the version that aired on TV. (Presumably, at some future moment, The Walking Dead will release an extended director’s cut of each episode.) Recall that Aaron still holds himself responsible for the vicious attack by the Wolves gang.
Contrary to some prognosticators/oddsmakers, such as in the very engaging Walking “Death” prediction clip from Nerdist News embedded below, that “expert” backwoodsman/tracker Daryl allowed the bad guys to sneak up on him (again) and shoot him probably means he’s safe from getting beaten to death in the near term.
Parenthetically, while a lot could be said or written about bad TWD decision-making, given that protecting the Alexandria safe zone is and should be the number-one priority, the idea of sending the best fighters on search-and-rescue missions makes no sense, as did allowing the only Alexandria resident with medical training to go on a dangerous supply run.
Negan batting leadoff
Cast members have described The Walking Dead finale script as making them speechless, sick, angry, frustrated, and so forth, but these distress calls may be all part of the standard and ongoing TWD hype machine and ratings grab.
Various internet sources suggest that the Negan bat attack will be filmed from the point of view of the victim and without identifying which one of the characters is on the receiving end of the beatdown…a reveal that will be postponed until Season 7.
— VANITY FAIR (@VanityFair) April 1, 2016
Vanity Fair, for example, offered this summary of the potential cliffhanger that leaves the brutal Negan attack unresolved until the October 2016 reveal.
“But according to the leak, after Negan plays a game of ‘eenie, meenie, miney, moe’ with some of our favorite characters, the camera shifts to the victim’s point of view. In other words, we’ll see Negan swing the bat towards the camera and then, after the episode cuts to black, we will spend seven months arguing over which character—Abraham, Daryl, Maggie, Glenn, etc.—was on the receiving end… It’s a brilliant, maddening play from The Walking Dead. Sure, it will be hard to conceal once the show goes back into production for Season 7… And as frustrated as fans might be by the cliff-hanger, everyone will be guessing, analyzing, and, most importantly, talking about this particular twist of the plot for the entire seven-month hiatus between seasons… But any publicity is good publicity in this crowded TV landscape, and while The Walking Dead may currently be one of the biggest shows on television, it’s a cutthroat world out there and this proves that just like Rick’s scrappy group of survivors, the show might do just about anything to survive.”
In the alternative, some websites have theorized that screener copies of the last episode that may have been shared with entertainment industry insiders purposely were edited to prevent the big reveal until it unfolds for everyone simultaneously on Sunday night on national TV.
As a practical matter, others have argued that a cliffhanger ending makes no sense in that information will begin leaking from the Georgia TWD location as soon as next month (when Season 7 filming begins) as to which cast member is no longer on set. It’s conceivable that the crew hasn’t shot the reveal yet, but chances are that the details will leak out eventually this spring/summer.
That presupposes that The Walking Dead won’t decide to meander off into some flashback sequences or episodes to start the season, however, and/or implement some other form of chicanery to delay the inevitable.
As an aside, the hype surrounding Negan and the Season 6 finale loops back to the “who shot J.R.” mystery in the March, 21, 1980, Season 3 finale of the original version of the CBS drama Dallas, starring the late Larry Hagman. The Season 4 premiere episode on November 21, 1980, which revealed J.R.’s assailant turned out to be the highest-rated television episode in U.S. history (83 million viewers).
In the contemporary fragmented entertainment universe, no scripted drama on TV could ever garner that kind of ratings bonanza. The Walking Dead is a huge hit for AMC, with about 13 million viewers per installment.
Fanboys and girls on such highly informative website forums as Spoil the Dead already have, in general, expressed dissenting opinions about how the show is being orchestrated by creator/executive producer Robert Kirkman and showrunner Scott Gimple, so a cliffhanger ending won’t be a crowd pleaser there.
At the end of the day, or night, as much fun, excitement, and buzz as this is generating, The Walking Dead is just a TV show based on make-believe, kind of like Krispy Kreme is just a doughnut.
As with previous departures from The Walking Dead, there will be a grieving process among its devoted fan base about the clubbing of a central character. To some degree, moreover, the show has lost some of its bite, as it were, after the demise of several of the core cast of survivors over the years.
Who do you think will die, if anyone, at the hands of Negan on The Walking Dead Season 6 finale? Will you feel cheated or frustrated if Negan’s victim is not revealed until The Walking Dead Season 7 premiere about six months down the road? Would you prefer knowing who dies immediately?
[Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for AMC]