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Far be it from AMC’s The Walking Dead to stick to every letter of the comic books, but if showrunner Angela Kang’s adaptation manages to follow through on the next two biggest deaths on the board as per Robert Kirkman’s original version of events, then it’s fair to expect some outrage in the near future.
The comics, created by Kirkman and illustrated by Charlie Adlard, provide the roadmap for the current Whisperers storyline featured in season nine of the increasingly sprawling zombie drama — including a series of bloody beheadings that launch the Alexandria Safe-Zone into full-blown war against the new group of skin-suited survivors. The Whisperers abduct and decapitate several members of Alexandria and surrounding communities, placing their heads on spikes to clearly mark off the Whisperers’ turf. Needless to say, it doesn’t go over well, and a full-blown battle ensues.
Among the deceased: someone who made a major revelation in the midseason premiere. Read on beyond the beheaded border wall to see who that someone is, but final warning: massive spoilers ahead…
It’s Rosita, played since season four by Christian Serratos, a character whose screen time has increased over the past couple of seasons following the brutal head-bashing of Michael Cudlitz’s Abraham. In the comics, she’s been in a relationship with Eugene (Josh McDermitt) for years by the time she’s caught and killed by the Whisperers, all of which occurs off-page. In the TV version of events, Rosita is in a relationship with Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), one of Alexandria’s key figureheads. In both versions of events, Rosita is pregnant in the run-up to the beheadings — but so far, only the comic books have followed through on killing Rosita during her pregnancy.
Will The Walking Dead walk down the same line if and when the series encounters its own beheaded border wall bombshell? Rosita’s death while pregnant would not be a first for the show, as Lori Grimes (Sarah Wayne Callies) died in season three during childbirth, with her pre-teen son Carl (Chandler Riggs) forced to shoot her in the head afterward to prevent zombification. In season six, Lauren Cohan’s Maggie suffered complications with her pregnancy, all while she had a front-row seat to her husband Glenn’s (Steven Yeun) gruesome murder.
Now, The Walking Dead stands at the edge of yet another traumatic moment for a pregnant woman in the apocalypse, the opposite side of the coin of what showrunner Angela Kang says she intended to represent through the birth of Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne’s (Danai Gurira) young son earlier this season.
“It’s very different from when Lori was pregnant at a very different time in the apocalypse,” Kang told The Hollywood Reporter in late 2018. “Back then, they were worried that the baby wouldn’t even survive. It made sense, because it was all so fresh and new. If their baby cries, what happens to her, or to us? Michonne and Rick lived in a very different time, and we wanted to show that.”
From a story standpoint, Rosita’s death would impact the aforementioned Eugene and Gabriel, as well as Siddiq (Avi Nash), the secret father of her unborn child. With that said, the series using Rosita’s demise to fuel the emotional arcs of those three men is an unappealing prospect on its own. From a practical standpoint, The Walking Dead has already sustained some high-profile losses this season between Lincoln and Cohan’s exits, not to mention Gurira’s own upcoming departure in season ten. As it stands, Alanna Masterson’s Tara is in line to be the third most senior castmember on the call sheet once Gurira leaves, followed closely by Serratos. Can The Walking Dead afford to lose one of the few senior castmembers it has left, especially under such grim circumstances, even if the death has roots in the comic books?
There’s reason to believe The Walking Dead will zig where it has zagged in the past when it comes to the next round of series regular slayings. In the past, the TV and comic book versions have walked different paths, even at major crossroad moments. Some examples: Hershel (Scott Wilson), beheaded by the Governor (David Morrissey), which was how Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman) died in the comics; the addition of Abraham’s head-bashing in the Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) introduction, which only included Glenn’s death in the comics; and most recently, Jesus (Tom Payne), who not only didn’t die at the Whisperers’ hands in the comic books, but is still alive and well in the pages of Kirkman and Adlard’s tale. Will Rosita experience a similar reprieve when it comes to the show’s history of mixing-and-matching major deaths?
However it shakes out for Rosita, there’s little denying that the Whisperers’ border wall feels like the right landing point for season nine’s finale — which means only a few weeks remain before fans find out if the two versions of Walking Dead are about to meet or diverge again, as far as Rosita is concerned.
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