THE DEAD TIMES

DEAD ARE COMING...

Who got a date with Lucille?

Welcome Walker fans! This article is going to be a bit different from the normal run of things at The Dead Times. Today, and whichever day you choose to read these mesmerizing words, I'm going to draw myself into a debate about The Walking Dead TV show. I'd not normally do this as I try to focus my site into a small corner of Zombie-dom so as not to get overloaded with content - believe me, I'm so knee deep in crazed ideas and unfinished articles that there is no danger of the great river of Zombiedic knowledge that I have spawned ever drying up.

I have always had an itch to scratch with spreading my views on AMCs wonderful Zombie show so, when season six ended in such an ambiguous climax, I jumped at the chance to get in on the word warfare. After reading about my insightful opinion, if you liked this article and would like to see more "talking point" articles like it the future, drop a comment below - I'd love it to know if you are as excited by this new venture as I am.

Oh, and just as a warning before we plunge into the undead rabbit hole feet-first, this article will contain spoilers.

Season 6 of The Walking Dead introduced us to the Saviours, a nasty group of cut-throats and renegades who were extorting a peaceful survivor colony for the resources needed to survive in the Zombie apocalypse. The group is led by Negan, a particularly evil personage, marvellously acted by Jeffrey Dean Morgan - The Comedian from Watchmen. Negan has only appeared once in the TV series at this point, right at the end of "The Last Day on Earth" - the final episode of the sixth season. He comes out of a RV, barbed wired-wrapped baseball bat (one that he lovingly names "Lucille") in hand, and paces menacingly in front of Rick's captured group of survivors, kneeling and helpless. In a haunting performance, he threatens to kill one of the group as payment for all the grief Rick has caused the Saviours, killing many of Negan's most loyal followers. However, whom Negan actually kills, and kill he does, is a mystery as the point of view shifts to mask the identity of the victim - you seeing only what the fated character sees as Negan takes his swing. Now, this, quite rightly, angered many viewers, dooming them to wait until the next series to witness such a vital plot-point. However, speculation as to the murdered individual has run rampant, the Internet fires burning as legions of dedicated fans race to have their say. Can we here at The Dead Times, a squirming bastion of Zombie goodness, figure out, or at least make an educated guess - a stab in the dark if you will - at, who Negan murdered? Just who was, the latest victim of Lucille?

© Negan marches the line up | Beyond the Tube

It wasn't random

Firstly, Negan makes it seem random who is going to die by saying he simply cannot decide and then rubbing salt into the wound with a deadly game of "Catch a Tiger". I love this as it amplifies the terror, ratcheting up the tension as Negan, Lucille outstretched like a damning finger, slowly moved from one character to another - it was brilliant. Not just brilliant for the viewers but, thinking about this realistically, as if Negan, Rick, Michonne and the others were all real living people and not just fictional characters, it was also a brilliant tactic for any walking psychopath to employ.

Earlier, Negan clearly states that he wants Rick's group to work for him, enforcing the law of the Saviours on this new world and bringing punishment upon those who would dare oppose their righteous leader - and I don't think he is the kind of person that takes "no" for an answer. This immediately gives Rick's crew hope - some small glimmer that they will get away from this extremely hostile situation unscatehed. However, Negan continues, introducing the trapped individuals to his infamous bat and proclaiming that someone is going to die - retribution for all the pain Rick has caused. Negan has already made the choice, he knows long before he made that terrible remark who is going to go down and not get back up. I mean, he's not crazy, he has survived for god knows how long in a world ruled by the living dead, leading a gang of misfits, thieves and assorted miscreants. This decision was not one that could have been made lightly or with simple, raw emotion. If he truly does want more workers for his dastardly deeds then he has three things to achieve:

  1. To leave the morale of Rick's group relatively intact - if he kills someone very important to the group like Rick or Carl, a rebellion is assured which the Saviours would no doubt win, but more lives would be lost.
  2. Leave the strong alive for the thuggish work he intends them to do but, again, not leave the group so strong that a rebellion is assured.
  3. Put enough fear into each and every one of them so that no one dare contemplate going up against him.

The apparent randomness of the decision, Glenn's emotional outburst when Maggie was threatened, followed by a swift warning, and Negan identifying Carl as Rick's son, achieved point (c) in the best possible way.

Group morale

As I mentioned, it was key for Negan to lower the morale of Rick's group significantly to make sure they fall into line with the Saviours but not damage it so much that whoever is left will, over time, strike a plan to get back at the evil leader. For me, this rules out killing Rick immediately. If Rick was taken out, the surviving members of his crew would fall apart - the entire group dynamic braking down. Scattered survivors with no leadership or sense of cohesion would be useless for the work Negan implies - and that's assuming they don't band together and head out for revenge. So I think Rick is safe… for now. Also, Carl, being Rick's son, is free from extreme harm as well - murdering him would just push Rick over the edge, driving the group on a furious road to revenge. These two facts are backed up by what Negan says just before his murder-spree; "Anybody moves - feed the kid's remaining eye to his father.". That statement alone is not guaranteed freedom for Rick though; it strongly implies that Carl is safe but Negan may swing the bat at Rick just enough to kill him but ensure he comes back as a Walker, threatening all those he once protected in the ultimate humiliation.

© Lucille gets a kill | Gotta be gossip

Can you imagine the uproar of fans if Rick had actually been killed by Negan - I, perhaps controversially, think it would be outrageously awesome, creating a whole new narrative for the programme, giving the show a huge thrust away from the comics and ramming home the concept that no one is safe in an undead world. Rick's now leaderless group would be thrown into chaos, with no one to tell them what to do after so long having been bound together by the charisma of one. Would a new leader be elected from their ranks - democratically or by force? And who would it be; Glenn? Daryl? Abraham? Alternatively, would the leftover crew all turn nasty, letting Negan call the shots? What would Carl do? In seasons three and four we saw him becoming a bit of a "Governour-type character" - after all, he has the eye-patch now and can't be too happy about having been shot and nearly killed twice since leaving Atlanta, both times by supposedly good people.

Pick off the strong, not the strongest

On the subject of point b, Negan would want to significantly weaken Rick's group while not rendering it combat ineffective - a team that is too obviously weakened would be useless for Negan's plans. The strongest character is obliviously Rick - maybe not in strength but in his role of leader. This takes Carl out of the equation too as killing him would just enrage his father into attempted retaliation. We can also dismiss Eugene, Sasha, Rosita and Aaron straight off the bat (a slight pun) as I don't think Negan would see them as terribly important members of the group - neither strong fighters not pivotal community members. Maggie can also be ruled out as she definitely seemed pretty weak and sick at the end of the final episode. This leaves Daryl, Abraham, Glenn and Michonne. Michonne is more and more, becoming a 'second in command' to Rick, which would put her in Negan's limelight. However, remember that, earlier in the episode, some of the Saviours saw Rick cut some of the hair off a Zombie he thought could have been Michonne, having been fed to the dead when captured. This would have obviously been seen as a sign of affection and bond between the two, information that could easily have found its way to Negan. This may have altered Negan's choice at the last minute, figuring that murdering Michonne would have the same effect as killing Carl, pushing Rick over the edge and causing unnecessary emotional outburst. That said, the reverse could also be true. Negan may, despite what he said, have focused his anger entirely towards Rick (something I think is pretty likely since, after all, this is Rick's group), wanting to cause him pain but keeping him alive to live with it - making his lover, Michonne, the perfect choice.

There are other strong reasons Michonne may be the perfect candidate for Lucille's first televised outing, brilliantly stated and analysed in exhaustive detail in this video from the Faux Pause YouTUBE channel.

Moving on from Michonne, we have Daryl. Daryl is a very strong candidate, certainly a lot of YouTUBE videos and articles on other esteemed websites form this conclusion. The primary reasons seem to be out of the show, behind the scenes: he's expressed interest in leaving the TV series to be more involved in movies and he's even got his own series - Ride With Norman Reedus - coming up on AMC all about motorcycles and his love of them. This doesn't really sit well with me - I just don't think Robert Kirkman (creator of The Walking Dead franchise) or the other people at AMC would let external forces like this affect one of their most successful TV shows, not even mentioning the fact that Daryl has such an astronomically huge fanbase. I don't think Negan would take him out either; yes, he's strong as a fighter, maybe even stronger than Rick, but as a leader - na, I think Daryl is safe. Also, Daryl has already been shot by Dwight so killing him kind of seems like a waste - he has been taught a lesson not to cross the Saviours so keeping him alive as a reminder to the others may actually benefit Negan.

Then there's Glenn. You probably already know it by now but Glenn is the one Negan murders with Lucille in the Walking Dead comic. Therein lies the biggest hurdle. The TV show has always done things differently than the comics - a mantra backed up by executive producer of the show and author of the comic books, Robert Kirkman - keeping the same general plot points but substituting in different characters or fiddling with the timeline. I just don't think that the producers will "cop out" and deliver up the exact same outcome avid comic fans already know. Additionally, seeing as that is not as hard-drawn as I like to make things on The Dead Times, to me, Glenn has been becoming less and less of a central character in the group for a while now. It could indeed be Glenn that gets whacked; he shows strong emotion when Maggie is threatened which annoys Negan greatly and, in the scene where Negan "randomly" picks his target, we never actually see him walk to Glenn, suggesting that, he is, in fact, "it".

Finally, we come to Abraham. Abraham is definitely the most headstrong member of the group, the most militarian and loyal - he gets the job done, no matter how bad it may be. For those reasons (and his rippin', handlebar moustache), he is my favourite character in this post-apocalyptic Zombie drama and, it grieves me to say, the one most likely to get murdered. Killing Abraham achieve's both points a and b with ease - he's not respected enough in the group to badly affect morale (though his death would definitely have an impact on Rick, Eugene, Sasha and Rosita) and it would, most definitely, cripple the group's strength while leaving it suitably strong. Also, in final few minutes of the episode, Abraham strongly implied that he was ready to settle down and start a family with Sasha. Things very rarely turn out well in The Walking Dead so, as much as the hard-hitting, foul-mouthed character may deserve a break, I don't think he is going to catch one. The final reason I think Abraham bit the bat is that after Negan's first swing, the injured party gets back up and stares at him - if anyone has got the gusto and inner courage to shrug off a direct hit from a baseball bat to the cranium to stare his attacker down, it's Abraham; the ginger haired badass of the apocalypse.

© Abraham - Grrr! | Morning Ledger

So that's what I thought but did I get it right? Join the debate and add a comment below.

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The Dead Times © Tom Clark 2013 onwards

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'Universal Fruitcake' font sourced from www.fontsquirrel.com