9:48am PT by Josh Wigler
'Walking Dead': 7 Predictions for Season 7B
After the skull-crushing premiere that saw Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) exit the scene in gruesome fashion, AMC's The Walking Dead closed out the first half of its seventh season with yet another showing of gut-wrenching violence: Spencer Monroe (Austin Nichols) publicly eviscerated on the streets of Alexandria, his guts ripped out by the nefarious Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).
As is often with Walking Dead, the death of a main character brings both good and bad news. The good news? No more Spencer! (With apologies to the talented Mr. Nichols; it's not his fault that his character was such a slime-ball.) The bad news? We now have to wait weeks to see Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and company's reaction to Negan's latest show of dominance. It's an especially grueling wait, considering we know exactly what's on Rick's mind right now: war, and plenty of it.
While we wait for season seven to resume Feb. 12, here are our predictions for how the back half of the season will play out.
1. War is Coming
You don't need a comic book to tell you what's coming next. In slaughtering Spencer, Negan helped Rick rediscover his own guts. At long last, our hero is finally ready to take a stand against the Saviors. Expect the second half of season seven to escalate the conflict between Rick and Negan significantly, as the series moves toward one of the most popular arcs from the comics: "All Out War."
2. The Numbers Game
There's only so much damage Rick can do against Negan with his current group of allies. The obvious solution? Recruit more allies! It's a good thing there's a literal Kingdom out there with two of Rick's old friends already in place within the community. Even the fearless knight Sir Richard (Karl Makinen) is ready for a fight. It's our belief that Rick and Ezekiel (Khary Payton) will become fast friends once season seven resumes.
3. The Next Station is Oceanside
Even if Alexandria forges an alliance with the Hilltop and the Kingdom, they're still outgunned, literally. Keep in mind that Negan and the Saviors stole Alexandria's entire arsenal, leaving our trigger-happy heroes without a shot to fire. But also don't forget that Tara (Alanna Masterson) knows exactly where the crew can find some guns: Oceanside, the community she discovered while out on a supply run. Although Tara vowed never to reveal Oceanside's location, desperate times call for desperate measures. And what's more, the Oceansiders have a reason to seek vengeance against the Saviors, since they killed every single male in the community, forcing the surviving women to run away and establish Oceanside. Get ready for some payback in the next half of the season.
4. You Can Always Depend on the Kindness of Strangers
Beyond all the communities, there's another possible Alexandria ally in the mix. In the midseason finale, a mysterious stranger spies on Rick and Aaron (Ross Marquand) during a supply run. Later, in a post-credits scene, this stranger spies on Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) as he's standing guard at Alexandria. It's reminiscent of the comic book introduction of the Hilltop's very own Jesus (Tom Payne), someone who turned out to be a fantastic ally for Rick and his people. This stranger almost certainly isn't Jesus, but we're betting that it's a future friend and not a foe. Whoever it is, we'll find out soon: Andrew Lincoln confirmed to THR that the stranger will be revealed "relatively quickly," as early as the midseason premiere.
5. The Dwight Stuff
Although he hasn't been the nicest human being in recent episodes, we do know that Dwight (Austin Amelio) actually has a softer side. And it wasn't on the show without a reason. In the comics, Dwight takes a stand against the leader of the Saviors, eventually throwing his support behind Rick. While Daryl looks poised to take on Dwight's ultimate arc, the back half of season seven will very likely see a full change of heart for Negan's top lieutenant.
6. Negan isn't Going Anywhere
But if you think the season is going to end in Negan's death you're in for a disappointment. Even with war looming, getting rid of Negan won't be as easy as getting rid of Shane (Jon Bernthal), the Governor (David Morrissey), Gareth (Andrew J. West), or any of the other bad guys Rick has faced in the past. Like him or not, Jeffrey Dean Morgan's smiling psychopath is here to stay, at least for now.
7. But Sasha Probably Isn't
Sadly, it's time to start the death watch for Sasha. Sonequa Martin-Green has been cast as the lead on Star Trek: Discovery, the new CBS All-Access series. It's being said that Martin-Green will remain part of the Walking Dead cast despite her new obligation, but come on — we have been down this same exact road many times before, most famously when Jon Bernthal signed on for Frank Darabont's since-canceled TNT drama Mob City back in season two, preceding his death on the show. How is it going to happen? That's anybody's guess. But if you're placing bets on the next series regular to kick the bucket, Sasha should be at the top of the list.
The Walking Dead returns Feb. 12 on AMC. Bookmark THR.com/WalkingDead to keep up with everything ahead of its return.