Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Walking Dead season 6 post mortem

I know I've been slacking on the D&D stuff lately.  More is on the way, but right now I have other things on my mind.  Specifically, I've been watching the internet lose its collective shit over the season finale of that zombie apocalypse show on AMC.  In a world which contains police brutality, drone bombings, the IRS, the Ebola virus, and a thousand other truly awful things, you might think people would save their genuine outrage -- all that seething, virulent fury -- for something a little more consequential than a TV show.  And of course, sadly, you'd be wrong.  But I digress.

(Caution: Spoilers ahead)

In general, I liked season 6, especially the stuff that most fans (or at least the most vocal fans) emphatically did NOT: The ill-conceived walker cattle drive gone awry, Morgan's flashback episode and anti-killing ethos, Carol's breakdown, Rick and Daryl's excellent adventure with a truck full of supplies and Jesus.  I wasn't crazy about the way the show handled Glenn's brush with death, and I do wish the writers would forget the silly gimmicks to gin up buzz in the fandom, but hey, that's TV, right?  The finale lived up to the hype for me; despite charges of the escalating Savior roadblocks being repetitive, this is the first time in a long time that I felt like Rick and company were really, truly afraid.  I almost believed Eugene's desperate, brilliant plan might let them get Maggie to the Hilltop ... and then those whistles started.  Easily one of the most powerful "OH SHIT!" moments in TWD history, in my book.

In case you missed it, everybody's freaking out over the fact that the Big Season-Ending Death, brought about by the Babe Ruthless of the apocalypse, Negan, and his barbed-wire baseball bat Lucille, was shot from the perspective of the victim, without revealing who the victim actually is.  I think it may have been a mistake from the standpoint of continuity and momentum, but I can't bring myself to be angry about it like so many have.  I felt the first-person viewpoint of the killing was a good choice, largely because I really don't want to actually see a beloved character's brains splattered, and also because it was absolutely chilling to experience such a thing from the victim's point.  Nonetheless, it might have been a good idea to reveal the victim's identity, either with a shot of the body lying on the ground, or with a well-placed scream of the character's name by his/her compatriots.

This being the internet age, most of us will probably know well before October who the unfortunate victim was, as word gets around about which actors are and aren't on set when filming begins for season 7.  Until then, it's fun to speculate, so here are my predictions.


Aaron: Aaron is a sympathetic, likeable character with some interesting nuances.  He's arguably the bravest of the Alexandria residents, prior to the arrival of Rick's crew, but he's mild-mannered, level-headed, and compassionate.  He recognizes Daryl's reticence as uncertainty of his place in the new world of Alexandria, and offers him a bike and a job to soothe his restless soul.  He tries to help Maggie get outside during the walker siege to search for Glenn.  He's a good guy, and an interesting one.  He's also, thus far, been a relatively minor player.  Killing him would be a cop-out.  Fans are expecting someone with more impact.

Rosita: She's been with the gang a bit longer than Aaron, but hasn't had a whole lot of character development.  She's generically likeable, generically brave, and generically expendable, which means fans would feel cheated if she's the one to take Negan's home-run swing.

Rick: Probably the safest of the lot, considering that he's the main character of the entire series.  I don't think the writers are desperate enough to bump him off for the sake of shock value, at least not yet.

Glenn: This is his comic book death, and fans have speculated for at least the last couple seasons on whether it would be his fate in the show too.  But the writers have teased his death twice this season alone, and now they've given us this cliffhanger.  Can you imagine the backlash if, after six or seven months, they come back with, "Surprise!  It's Glenn, just like in the comics, after we went to crazy lengths to make you think it might not be!"?  Before the cliffhanger, Glenn's death would have made sense to the story, but now it only makes sense if the writers really enjoy hate mail.  Seems like a spectactularly bad move that even the occasionally tone-deaf TWD writing staff should be able to hear a mile away.


Carl: One of my friends is convinced that it was Carl who got clubbed, but in a couple watchings I didn't see anything to suggest it.  I'm not quite sure he passes muster as a "beloved" character, either, but he is Rick's son, and his death would send Rick into yet another tailspin.  I'm skeptical that the writers would throw him over after putting him through his comic book ordeal of losing his eye, not to mention an unresolved storyline with Enid, but I wouldn't put it past them, either.  With Judith still alive on TV, this Grimes kid may be expendable.

Sasha: She's not the most beloved character in that lethal lineup, but she's been with us a while, and we've gotten to know her, even suffered with her through the deaths of Bob and Tyreese.  The writers are just cruel enough to kill her off now that she's found hope in a future with Abraham, and just spineless enough not to pick a higher-profile character.  Don't write her off yet, but don't get your hopes up too much either.

Daryl: Everybody's favorite redneck might seem a natural candidate, and indeed earlier in the season he was my top suspect to take Glenn's place at Negan's home plate, but the fact that he had almost no part in the finale, other than to be dragged out of a van, bloody and pale, to kneel in Negan's eeny-meeny game, makes me doubt that he's in serious jeopardy.  He's arguably the most popular character on the show, and properly done, his death would have generated some serious heat for Negan.  Now, though ... I don't think he's untouchable, but it would be one of the most unceremonious exits of a major character in the show's history.  He didn't even get in so much as a defiant glare at the villain.  The writers have to be a little bit leery of angering the fan base by giving him a less than heroic death.

Abraham: He's not quite among the top tier of most beloved characters, but he's distinguished himself enough from the pack to be a contender, especially if the writers can't bring themselves to off someone more prominent.  Prior to the showdown with the Saviors, Abe had found a new lease on life, even expressing an interest in a future and children with Sasha, which is never a good omen in this show.  He's the most spirited of the captured survivors, standing up and daring the maniac to mete out the punishment to him instead of his friends.  Plus, he cheated his comic book death when it went to Denise instead, so he's already into uncharted territory story-wise.


Maggie:  Yes, I do believe the writers are sadistic enough to swap Glenn and Maggie's comic book roles.  Not only is she a much-loved character; she's one of the most sympathetic, unambiguously good people in the zombie apocalypse, along with her husband.  With Glenn probably off the table, Maggie's death would provide a similar impact.  From a story perspective, it would make sense for Negan to choose her, considering the effect the mere suggestion had on Glenn.  Murdering her and her unborn child would certainly set up Negan as the most evil bastard in the show's history.  However, as weakened as she was, it seems unlikely she would have been able to get up after being struck the first time -- the sole glimmer of hope for her fans, in my estimation.

Eugene: He's still a survivor in the comics, where he plays an important role in the war against the Saviors and beyond, but did TV Eugene just sign his own death warrant by handing over his bullet-making plans to Rick?  He's not loved by fans in the same way that Rick, Daryl, and Michonne are, but he evokes other emotions like pity and sympathy, and he has gotten some pretty important character development over the last few episodes, which is often the kiss of doom for TWD characters.  With his newfound sense of heroism, he might even have had it in him to stand back up and "take it like a champ" after that first blow as a final act of defiance and inspiration to his friends -- a heartbreaking moment that could generate some serious hate for Negan. 

Michonne: Do the writers want to yank yet another romantic rug out from under Rick?  My gut says yes, they do.  She's got the standing in the fandom for her death to make an impact.  A powerful shock factor weighs heavily in the balance, since she's still alive in the comics.  The only thing she doesn't have is a significant role in the finale, which may just get her a reprieve, to look forward to a long life or at least a more meaningful death at some future point.  I just wouldn't count too heavily on it.


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  2. After re watching it myself a couple of times I have to admit that I think Neegan may be looking at Carl, over his shoulder a bit, when he says the line, about scooping carls other eye out and feeding it to his dad. And as much as the actors said they cried, Rick especially, when they read the finale about the character they were loosing, and the writers said, that Carl and Neegan's 'strange relationship' would be explored in season 7 even if it was very very very short, and another character might take up most of that relationship, and that carl might not be on screen....After all that evidence I have to say I may be wrong about Carl, but my gut says the youth that survived it all up to this point, everyones hope that there is a future and children can grown up in this world, might not die. But I still think Carl is expendable. I know Neegan has a moral code for not hurting women or children as well. But he wants this strong party to work for him. Taking out a weak member makes sense...Maggie....but she's a woman, and a possible trophy for Neegan who I think the writers are sadistic enough to want Glenn to have to watch. Maggie is beautiful when not in the moment of miscarriage. However losing his wife and unborn child would make Glenn more like Rick and they will need to lose their shit to get out of this one. I want it to be one of the original cast members which leaves only Darryl in this line up....and as a writer I honestly feel like his character arc is done. We've seen him go from red neck brother lover to huge character growth in adopting Rick as his brother and coming to grips with the kind of man his brother was by his family bond with Carol. And the brutality she suffered at his hands. The further bonding with Denise over her bully of a brother and him being able to admit they had the same brother is almost a complete circle for him. Back to the beginning. Carol leaving on her own search for a truth, may be the last clue we need to see that it is our beloved redneck that is going to get to sacrifice himself for the greater good of the people he has come to protect and love. A huge growth from the kill or be killed Darryl we met in the beginning, and in my opinion a very heroic death. Although most will miss that and feel cheated like you said. I think from a writers point of view its Darryl or Carl. Take away their hope for the future or one of their best fighters. He's injured. Neegan hates weakness. And we don't know how injured. Him being able to stand up and take it like a champ, might be because he's more injured than we know...yet. of course that line is even more powerful if its a child like Carl.....