Why I'm Convinced Someone Unexpected Will Die in the Walking Dead Season Finale
Spoilers for The Walking Dead comics and television series follow!
Last night's episode of The Walking Dead was light on action, but surprisingly plot-heavy, as it finally introduced the Rickettes to the Hilltop colony (and its "prick" of a leader, Gregory), established that there are more communities in the world of The Walking Dead, and ushered in a new era that comics fans will be familiar with, in which the survivor communities trade with each other and maintain wary diplomatic relations. As Jesus wisely said, "Your world is about to get a whole lot bigger."
But most importantly, this episode set up a direct confrontation between Rick's group and the Saviors, the lawless mercenaries led by the nefarious Negan. We already know that Negan will be introduced in the season finale, and that one of the main characters will be on the receiving end of his barbed wire-covered baseball bat, Lucille. But while many are assuming that it will be Glenn, who was famously beaten to death by Negan in the 100th issue of the comics, I'm becoming increasingly convinced that it will be another fan favorite: Daryl Dixon.
Daryl was always essentially the only other option, as Glenn would need to be replaced by another original and beloved character in order for the death to have equal impact. Rick is the protagonist of the show, and Robert Kirkman has stated that he won't kill off Carol in the near future, so Daryl is the only viable alternative. Plus, if they're going to kill Daryl off, it would need to be in an epic manner, and since he doesn't have a death scene in the comics, it makes sense to give another character's iconic death scene to Daryl. This would ensure that it's not a let-down, and would keep the audience on their toes. "No one is safe," etc. etc.
But still, when the back half of the season started, I still predicted it would be Glenn, mostly because they don't want their fans to riot. But now that the first few episodes of 6B have aired, I'm changing my prediction. First, in the premiere, Glenn's death was teased yet again, to the point that Maggie was screaming out his name in a very conveniently misleading shot that was included in the midseason trailer. After Glenn's stupid hiding-under-the-dumpster non-death, I still thought that he would be killed by Negan, and that that fake-out was intended to lull us into a false sense of security before killing off Glenn for real. But I don't think they would tease his death twice before killing him off a few episodes later; I think they added that second fake-out so they could mislead us into thinking they would conform to the comics in the midseason trailer. After all that teasing, if Glenn died in the season finale, it would feel all-too-predictable and anticlimactic.
I thought they would keep Daryl for his rabid fanbase, and because he fulfills a function that no other character really does. Enter: Jesus. Jesus has only been on the scene for two episodes, and I can already see that he could fulfill a similar function to Daryl. He's a stoic, ultra-competent bad-ass who is inherently gentle but still gets things done (and for everyone who has a crush on Daryl, it helps that Tom Payne is extremely handsome). One could argue that Jesus has been introduced simply because the show wanted to introduce the Hilltop Colony, but I think his presence will also help to soften the blow when our favorite bad-ass/softie is killed off.
Plus, the show has already foreshadowed a conflict between Daryl and Negan, as Daryl killed a group of Saviors in the midseason premiere. As fans of the comics know, Negan is a big fan of retribution, so if he ever finds out that Daryl was the one wielding that rocket launcher, there will likely be hell to pay.
Here's my prediction: everything in the season finale will play out exactly as we're expecting. Negan will arrive, he'll be scary as f*ck (and hopefully will be allowed to swear), and after a sadistic selection process, will choose Glenn to be killed by Lucille as payback for the Saviors their group has killed. Now that everyone knows that Glenn and Maggie are going to be parents, Daryl will courageously choose to sacrifice himself for Glenn, and tell Negan that he's the one who killed his men. Then Negan will kill Daryl in a brutal manner, and Daryl will die a dramatic hero's death, which is the only way he could possibly go.