ATTENTION READER! Spoilers for The Walking Dead Season Six will follow! If you are not caught up, proceed at your own risk!
Well The Walking Dead, that definitely is one way to end a season finale. The introduction to the leader of the Saviors was promised to be one of the best on the show and it did not disappoint. Negan is the unsettling blend of a charismatic charmer mixed with an obvious psychopath and his first piece of dialogue showcased that perfectly. While some people may complain that the finale did not have much to the episode besides watching the group getting cornered and redirected 20 times over on their way to Hilltop, I believe it was a great build up to the pulse-pounding finish. If you want to refresh your memory or you ignored my initial warning and are watching this for the first time, here's that final moment that had all the fans collectively scream at the television:
Watching that moment was one of the most intense things I've ever seen on television. The suspense, Negan's ominous delivery, the way everything was edited to confuse the audience, the scene was just flawless. And at the same time, it was the worst feeling knowing we'll have to wait till October to see who was on the other end of Negan's grand slam. As much as this cliffhanger is having us guessing #WhoIsIt, we at least know (or logically assume) that a a few of people are safe.
Rick and Carl are most likely not on the receiving end of Lucille. The moment Negan picked his victim, he claimed "If anyone moves, anyone tries to do anything: cut the boy's other eye out and feed it to his father." Safe to say you can't do that if either one of their heads have been bashed in.
Other characters like Eugene, Rosita, Sasha and Aaron, while important in certain aspects, don't seem like worthy candidates for Negan's revenge. A big season finale (and now premiere) death from a big series villain should be given to a more prominent figure within the group. No offense to the actors, but their characters don't quite fit the bill.
And despite the overwhelming thought that the show will follow the original source material, we actually might have been able to rule out Glenn a long time ago...
Granted this video is from February 2015 and the fake spoilers being called into question were pertaining to season five. But at the same time, I doubt that one of the show runners would even remotely consider ruining such a crucial moment in the show's future despite it being over a year away.
Even Glenn's wife Maggie is probably safe as well. Let me remind you that whoever received that initial blow from Negan managed to posture up again for the next hit. I highly doubt that someone who is already struggling to sit up straight from illness would be able to do so after taking a bat to their head.
With all this in mind here are my top picks for who is Negan's first on screen casualty:
This one is a bit of a reach but I still think there is some merit as to why Michonne could have been killed. We've seen a lot of growth from Michonne this season as she became Rick's new lover. Unfortunately, that title did not serve Lori and Jessie well in the past. Rick's morale was already shattered at the end of the episode when he and the rest of the group were lead perfectly into a trap despite his best efforts to stay ahead of the Saviors. How much more devastating would the whole situation be if at the end of the night, Michonne was the one to fall at the hands of Negan and Lucille?
On top of what could be a major plot point in the show, there were a couple of subtle hints thrown out that might be overlooked. For one thing, Michonne is the only one not seen with Lucille in front of their face. In the worst game of "Eeny-Meeny-Minny-Mo," Negan points the bat at every single person at least once, some a couple of times. Look close enough and you'll notice Michonne is only seen in a close up, but never with Lucille in the same frame. Whether that was done intentionally in editing or was just an oversight is a mystery but it's still noteworthy. Just imagine that the first time we see Lucille and Michonne together is in the moment of impact.
Another thing to consider are rough, POV glimpes spread throughout the episode. Near the end of the episode, we realize it is from the vantage point of Daryl, Glenn, Michonne and Rosita in the back of a van. In the final reveal (when the doors open as shown above), you can see the top of Daryl's head in the bottom left hand corner, indicating that this could possibly be from Michonne's perspective. The show runners could have easily made this a foreshadowing to the final POV shot of Lucille coming down.
Odds of Survival: 6.5/10
There has been a long-standing fan mantra of "If Daryl dies, we riot!" but I need to be honest: if you really want to riot over the death of a certain character in a ZOMBIE-FILLED, PSYCHO-RIDDEN, POST-APOCALYPTIC UNIVERSE then I don't think you fully realized what you've invested your time in. Yvette Nicole Brown said it best on her last appearance on Talking Dead:
We love a show about a zombie apocalypse. We made that choice. When you watch a soap opera, you can't get mad when people kiss. So in a zombie apocalypse, people are going to die! That's just what it is! - Yvette Nicole Brown from Talking Dead episode 5.15
Would Daryl's death on the show be devastating to the viewers? Of course, that's a no brainer. But does that mean a show should have characters that are completely untouchable for that same reason? Absolutely not! If that were the case, there would be no point in putting these characters in dangerous situations if we always think "Well he obviously will never die! Let's wait another 20 seconds, he'll escape!" Like I stated before: a big finale death from a big series villain should be given to a more prominent figure. Who better than the people's champion, Daryl Dixon?
Daryl in particular has been overly reckless this season and has clawed his way out of a fair share of sticky situations. In most of these instances Dwight is involved. And with every single time we see Dwight and Daryl together, things have gone from bad, to worse, to terrible. It is quite possible that Dwight was acting as Daryl's angel of death, leading him to his inevitable demise at the hands of Negan.
The introduction of Negan also led to a rather interesting interaction on Talking Dead following the finale. When host Chris Hardwick asked Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Negan) what it felt like knowing that him coming onto the show meant one of the beloved cast members was leaving. In that moment, Norman Reedus (Daryl) gave Morgan a friendly shove. Sure the two have known each other for years and are friends but it somewhat comes off as a "thanks for taking my spot, jerk" moment. Granted I could be reading too much into a small gesture but there is still this to consider: Although the cast claims they don't know who dies, contracts for season seven have probably already been drawn up and signed. The actors probably have an idea of who it is based on the episodes they signed on for in the new season.
Odds of Survival - 5/10
Honestly, I had Abraham pegged to be Negan's victim since I heard he was coming onto the show. Although Negan claims that he wants Rick and the group to work for him, there is always a danger that a new recruit will not accept his/her new job position. Case in point, as Negan is sizing up everyone in line, Abraham is the only one to sit up higher almost in a defiant manner which really took Negan by surprise. It's safe to assume any smart man would take that into consideration when picking someone to execute. With that in mind, if anyone could take a hit from Lucille "like a champ," my money would be on Abraham.
Furthermore, TWD has had a long standing concept of killing off any character that becomes the shows "beacon of light" so to speak. We had Dale's sense of morals in season two, Hershel's words of wisdom in season four and even Noah's plans for a future in season five, all cut short in really devastating fashions. This entire season, Abraham has been turning over a new leaf: considering his own psychological well being, wanting to live many years in the future, the possibility of kids, all with his new love interest Sasha. When Lucille first strikes, we hear a faint scream of a woman. It could very well have come from either Sasha or Rosita, in shock at watching their lover (or former lover) being beaten to death.
Abraham also took big strides in his relationship with Eugene. Their relationship was always a debate since Eugene's confession that he did not have a cure for the world. Ever since then, it took plenty of time and a bit of a forceful push from Rosita to get the two to sit down and apologize for everything that has happened in the past so that they can look towards the future. Their dynamic changed again in a couple of ways in episode 6.14 "Twice as Far" when at one point Eugene claims that Abraham's services "are no longer required" (possible foreshadowing?). Later on after Eugene gets shot, Abraham acknowledges that he has grown and is now a survivor in "level 2" as they claimed. And in their final one-on-one interaction this episode, Abraham finally proclaims Eugene as a survivor and they embrace in a passionate bro hug. As much as I love character development and personal growth, it's never a good sign on TWD. It just normally acts as a bad omen as to what will happen in the near future.
Odds of Survival - 3.5/10