It's been a long, hard wait for The Walking Dead fans ever since Season 6 ended back in April, without revealing which of our Survivors met the pointy end of the villainous Negan's bat. But it's not all that long to go now until we do find out, with Season 7 set to premiere October 24, 2016.
With filming for The Walking Dead Season 7 beginning in Georgia back in May, it's almost surprising that we haven't had the big reveal spoiled for us yet. With the cast and crew on lockdown when it comes to spoiler alerts and the series being filmed out of order to cover up which cast member(s) are absent from filming, there's a pretty tight ship running on the AMC production right now.
Because, as much as we're all desperate to know who's going down for the long dirt nap at the beginning of Season 7 — with new AMC promos firing up the speculation all over again — there's also the dreaded fear of spoilers. It's the blessing and curse of the real-time information network that is the internet, to the extent that fans fear logging on to Facebook and other social networking sites the morning after an episode has aired if they haven't seen it yet.
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The Walking Dead Showrunner Reveals What Sets Negan Apart From Other Villains
The Walking Dead cast regular — and a likely head on the Negan chopping block — Michael Cudlitz (Abraham) spoke to Yahoo TV this week in a new interview, and he had some choice words to say to those who are frantically trying to work out the biggest spoiler secret of Season 7.
After being hounded by fans at conventions and interviews alike, hoping he'll slip up and let some pertinent information fly, he's gotten a little tired of the subject:
"I don't even think [the fans] hope that you answer it. I think in the back of their minds, they think that you’re going to slip up and say who it may or may not be. I get asked probably a hundred times a day during a convention. Almost every person asks. They usually preface it with, 'I know you’re not going to tell me, but who…' 'Just tell me it wasn’t you.' Or, 'I know who it is. I know it's Michonne.' Or, 'Man, that’s f***ed up. Everyone's going to go crazy because Daryl is dead.' They want a reaction. You go on the Interweb, and it's a tremendous amount of speculation and guesses. It's just like, 'No, we're not telling you anything now. Get over it.'"
It's not a huge surprise that the cast members are getting a bit tired of this, we're getting a bit tired of it too and we're not even involved with the show itself. But while this is certainly an annoying facet of the fandom, the fact that The Walking Dead has this kind of discourse around it is a big part of what makes it so great.
Contemporary shows like The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones have captured the public imagination now more than ever, and in the information age, they're subsequently dissected, discussed and picked apart in the never ending search for knowledge. It's shared interests like this that bring us closer together; take, for example, the touching story shared on Reddit regarding how the controversial Season 6 finale brought two colleagues together before an untimely death.
But there's always a tipping point when it comes to those spoilers. As much as we invest our emotions in these characters and yearn to know what's going to happen to them, it's not quite the same finding out via an internet article months in advance as it is watching the events unfold on-screen.
The Walking Dead Season 6 finale was a letdown for many fans, not just because we didn't find out who died, but because we knew it would be difficult to avoid spoilers and speculation for the seven months in between seasons.
While online fan communities are an incredible force of nature, often for good, their very existence means that shows have to work harder than ever to avoid having their narratives unpicked well in advance. As a result, certain creators like Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon have given up on weaving overarching secrets into the fabric of their animated show Rick and Morty, as Harmon told A.V. Club in an interview last year:
"I think that's a really remarkable thing about today's TV audience. You cannot write payoff-based TV anymore because the audience is essentially a render farm. They have an unlimited calculation capacity. There's no writers' room that can think more than 20 million people who can think about it for an hour a day.... You can't do it anymore. You can't try to fool the audience."
Harmon admits that the modern audience is becoming unfoolable, with the access to real-time knowledge and the hive minds of Reddit and other social networking sites. That's why The Walking Dead Season 6 finale was a pretty big risk, as AMC has been trying to keep a secret on the same level as Game of Thrones' reveal about Jon Snow's fate.
All mixed feelings about the lack of payoff aside, at least it got people talking, but do we really need to know who died before we actually watch the episode? It's like knowing Bruce Willis was dead the whole time before you watch The Sixth Sense (no spoiler warnings here, that movie is nearly 20 years old) — it takes all the excitement and tension out of the reveal.
We identify with movies and television partially because they're escapist, but also largely because they connect with something within us. In the case of The Walking Dead, we're wrapped up in our intrepid group's fight for survival, which is why each death resonates with us (we're still not over Beth, so don't ask).
Knowing in advance means we can make our peace with it in the run-up, but it takes something away from the viewing experience. In a world where it's becoming increasingly difficult for media to surprise us, should we really be looking for spoilers?
But of course, Yahoo TV had to at least try and get an answer out of Cudlitz regarding the identity of whoever had the abrupt business meeting with Lucille. His answer might surprise you...
"Baby Judith. It's Baby Judith!"
Well, we certainly didn't see that coming.
Who do you think died in The Walking Dead Season 6 finale? Have your say in the comments below!