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[Warning: This story contains spoilers from The Walking Dead comic book series that inspired the AMC drama.]
Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) killed someone in the season six finale of AMC’s The Walking Dead, but exactly who the big bad beat to death with his barbed-wire bat named Lucille remains a mystery. And ultimately, it won’t matter who was on the receiving end of what will be the show’s most violent death to date.
The action-packed season six ended with Carl (Chandler Riggs), Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Michonne (Danai Gurira), Eugene (Josh McDermitt), Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), Daryl (Norman Reedus), Aaron (Ross Marquand), Rosita (Christian Serratos), Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and Glenn (Steven Yeun) all lined up before Negan, with the iconic character offing one of them. Rather than reveal who was beaten to death, the drama switched its point of view to the victim as blood trickled down the screen and the show ultimately cut to black as one fatal blow was delivered after another.
With some fans using drones in an attempt to catch a glimpse of production and discover the result of the biggest cliffhanger since Jon Snow’s apparent death on Game of Thrones, THR examines why the identity of Negan’s victim is inconsequential in the long run.
The end result is the same.
No matter who dies — comics creator and executive producer Robert Kirkman has said Negan’s victim is “beloved to everyone” — the death will affect each of the remaining survivors in a fundamental and profound way.
“Knowing the fact that any death changes our characters and changes our people in a very dramatic way, what’s exciting about season seven is how a death — any death — changes people and propels us in a different direction,” executive producer Greg Nicotero told THR in April, after revealing the death scene hadn’t even been filmed yet.
Granted, Maggie will be especially devastated if Glenn lives up to his comic book fate (the former pizza delivery guy met Lucille in the shocking 100th issue of the comics), but the gut-wrenching murder will be incredibly impactful no matter who the winner of Negan’s twisted version of “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe” is. (Though Maggie will certainly have lost a lot if Glenn dies following the loss of her sister, Beth, and father, Hershel, among others.)
Everyone will die eventually.
Kirkman has made it clear no one on the show is safe forever, including protagonist Rick and fan favorite Daryl.
Despite fan declarations of “if Daryl dies we riot,” even Reedus is aware his character — who was shot in the penultimate episode of season six — cannot, and will not, live in perpetuity. He has warned fans to “be very worried about Daryl” going forward, and, when asked about his TV counterpart’s eventual death, said, “I don’t think I’m ever going to be happy with that decision ever. Like every character on this show, there’s always more story to tell.”
Since everyone is ultimately headed toward the same grisly fate, some characters are bound to bow out earlier than others — like Laurie Holden’s Andrea, whose comic book counterpart is alive and has become Rick’s romantic partner.
Negan’s just getting started.
While the first cut (or in this case swing) is the deepest, Negan’s only just begun to unleash his particular brand of havoc on Rick and his band of not-so-merry survivors.
In fact, when asked specifically if there could be more than one death in the season seven premiere, Nicotero stressed “nobody looked really good in those last few moments” of the season six ender (which was likely a nod to Maggie, who seemed as if she could lose her baby).
The Walking Dead waited years to introduce Negan and it is unlikely producers will have the charismatic killer play a role in one (or even two) pivotal deaths and be done with him — especially with the All Out War storyline from the comics on the horizon.
“I feel like Rick is getting off pretty easy,” Morgan said in April. “Negan has a lot of story to come. It’s going to be an interesting road.” Echoed Lincoln to THR just hours after the finale aired, “It’s Negan’s land now.”
Season seven of The Walking Dead premieres in October. Stay tuned to THR.com/WalkingDead for full coverage.
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