As we draw closer and closer to the premiere of The Walking Dead Season 6 anticipation is really building in the fanbase. The trailers have teased a building confrontation between Rick and Morgan (who showed up at the end of Season 5), and outside the walls of Alexandria, the Wolves are howling.
** HUGE SPOILERS here for The Walking Dead graphic novels, and possibly Season 6. You have been warned... **
The Adaptation Process
In case you haven't read the comics yet it's important to note that there are major differences between the TV show and the books from which they are adapted. The show has never exactly been wholly faithful to its source material, rather engaging in a brief flirtation with the text, taking plot points and stringing them along roughly in the same order, changing the story enough to make the two worth talking about as entirely separate texts.
As a result characters that are still alive in the show are dead in the books (and vice-versa), and other things are switched around (for example, it's Tyreese who is beheaded by the Governor outside the prison, not Hershel - although he is shot shortly afterwards). The comics also include subplots that don't translate well into mainstream television - such as the affair between Andrea and Dale and the torture and rape of Michonne at the hands of the Governor, who also chops off Rick's hand when they first meet.
This narrative divide is by no means a bad thing. Adapting a popular comic into a highly successful television show is always going to involve a great deal of translation between the two medium, and The Walking Dead is at times better than the graphic novel from which it takes it’s narrative. I mean, the comics don't even feature Beth and Daryl. A travesty.
The highly anticipated Season 6 begins October 11th, and there's already been widespread speculation on what we can expect from it. Unlike other adapted media it's always a bit trickier to predict how new seasons of The Walking Dead are going to play out, so it's still unconfirmed if season 6 will bring us major characters like "Jesus" Paul Monroe (an envoy from another larger, community) or the vicious overlord Negan and all the hell his people bring down upon the survivors.
Let's talk about Negan...
There's been a ton of speculation about whether or not we're going to see the brutal warlord Negan make an appearance in Season 6. According to TVLine, a casting call matching his description went out recently:
"The breakdown describes “Rich” as a fiftysomething narcissist who has an angry streak, a “Senator-like charm” and the charisma of a car salesman. Totally Negan, right?"
Right, yeah that does sound a lot like Negan. Negan is the sleazy, yet enigmatic, head of a large Washington based group of survivors called the Saviours. In the comics Rick and the rest of his group at Alexandria are forced to start trading with them, giving them half their supplies in exchange for protection.
Why would introducing him now be a bad thing then?
Well, it might not be, that's why I stated above that the show doesn't always follow the canon of the comic books. But if they do go ahead and introduce Negan and the Saviours now with the Alexandria community in turmoil, the consequences will be devastating.
To begin with, Rick makes a deal with another group of survivors at the Hilltop; he'll get rid of Negan and the Saviours (whom he hasn't yet encountered at this point) in exchange for getting up a trade route with them. He later takes out a small group of the Saviours, not knowing the hell that will follow on from this action.
Whilst out scouting with Eugene, Abraham is shot through the head, killed as revenge for Rick's actions.
In the TV show Abraham's character is just starting to come full circle. He's gone from being a violent and volatile creature, to losing his last chance for hope, to finding a place within Ricks group for himself. It would be a shame to lose him right now, but that's not what I'm really worried about...
There are very few characters left on The Walking Dead that have been there since the very beginning; Glen is a huge fan favourite and the next longest running character next to Rick (if you don't count Morgan).
In the graphic novel Negan ambushes the group and violently beats Glen to death with his wire covered baseball bat as revenge for the killing of his men. It's super brutal, unexpected and very upsetting, particularly as his wife Maggie (who is pregnant at this point) and his adopted daughter Sophia are present and forced to watch.
I don't know about the rest of you but if they went ahead and killed off Glen at this juncture (especially after the unexpected death of Beth in Season 5) I don't think they'd win many brownie points with the fanbase. He's come a long way since Season 1, and his romance with Maggie has been one of the bright spots in an otherwise dark series.
Of course, there's no reason that they have to follow this particular narrative, they could swap Glen out with a more minor character or merely change this event all together. But it is one of the more shocking and defining moments of the comics, so you never know...