It’s that time of year again, when The Walking Dead finally stops showing us what seems like an endless amount of filler episodes and, ya know, gets to the freaking point. The Season Seven finale will on Sunday night, which will be our last look at Rick vs. Negan until roughly October, when the whole cycle starts over again.
If it sounds like I’m a tad bitter about this season, it’s because I am. Listen, I love The Walking Dead. The first season was excellent television, even if it seems like a long time ago now. There have been great moments since then, too. I loved it so much that I immediately got my hands on every single issue of the comic book and burned through almost 100 issues in a matter of days, and have stayed caught up to this day. Then came the Telltale point-and-click adventure video games, which I also devoured as soon as each chapter was released. I even read the first couple novels that focused on The Governor and his backstory. Yes, there was a time when I couldn’t get enough of The Walking Dead.
Times have changed. The last couple seasons have been painful, with Season Six essentially being a never-ending journey just to finally — finally! — introduce Negan, one of the best villain characters in comic history. And Negan, played excellently by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, did arrive. He arrived with bravado and charisma (and a cleaner vocabulary than his comicbook counterpart, and he brought along Lucille. Then, in a moment that would have made allllllllll the waiting worth it, The Walking Dead kicked their fans square in the crotch with the most shameless cliffhanger ending in recent television history.
Season Seven started with a bang (well, two bangs) as we finally got to see that scene from the comics. You know the one. Since then, though, it’s been a long, slow, prodding death march to now. Every week was just a slightly different version of Negan getting his way and everyone else can just deal. Or die. Now we finally are at the point where Rick is trying to gather an army and fight back against the Saviors. While he may ultimately win the battle for post-zombie apocalypse Washington, D.C., it may be too late for The Walking Dead to win me back as a loyal viewer.
Here’s my predictions for the season finale, which (full disclosure) I will be PVRing so I can watch WrestleMania or Sunday Night Baseball.
No One Important Dies
I’m going to get this one out of the way right off the bat (pun intended). I don’t think we’ll see a major character die in this season finale. As you’ll read later, my definition of “major character” matters here. Of course we won’t see Rick or Carl die. They are bullet proof. Then there is the 1A tier of characters, like Michonne, Daryl, Maggie, and Ezekiel. They are all safe. The show is already suffering from a lack a character development, especially since fan favorites like Glenn and Abraham are gone. They need to make fans care more about who is actually left before they kill them off and replace them with more fresh faces.
Eugene Remains Loyal to Negan
While I’m not quite willing to put Eugene in the 1A tier of characters, I also don’t expect him to die in Sunday’s episode. Partly because he will, by his very nature, stay as far away from any dangerous situation as he possibly can, but also because his character is actually interesting. The show has been teasing us, wanting us to believe that Eugene has sworn his loyalty to Negan for good. While I still believe that Eugene will eventually do something heroic to prove his loyalty still remains with Rick (and his deceased friend Abraham), it won’t happen this week. I wouldn’t be surprised it Eugene hardly gets any screen time on Sunday, but if he does, expect him to tow the company line of “I am Negan.”
Lots of Dead Canon Fodder
I’ve already given you my picks for who won’t die, but rest assured, this is still The Walking Dead and humans are definitely going to be involved in some gory deaths in the season finale. Unfortunately, none of them will actually matter. I basically expect a ton of “red shirt” deaths, with random peons from the various communities (plus nameless Saviors) ending up as walker food. Sorry, Oceanside and Scavengers (do those crazy scrap yard folk even have a proper name yet?), but you’re real high on my list of characters that are likely to bite the dust.
Shiva Finally Eats Someone
One of the coolest things introduced this season was the fact that King Ezekiel actually has a pet tiger named Shiva. How freakin’ awesome is that? Unfortunately, the only thing Shiva has really done so far is stand around and look intimidating. And I get it, the budget for CGI tiger mauling probably isn’t near the top of AMC’s priority list. But this is the season finale, and if Shiva doesn’t bite some idiot Savior directly in the face, I’m going to be disappointed. Why even bother showing us a tiger if you’re not going to use it? Make it happen, Ezekiel!
Gregory Betrays Maggie and the Hilltop
It’s pretty obvious that Gregory is a lying pile of crap. If you hadn’t caught on to that before, then his abandoned attempt to stab Maggie last week while she was trying to transplant a blueberry bush should have sealed the deal. Now he’s apparently going to take a drive and have some sort of secret meeting with Simon, the Savior who regularly terrorizes the Hilltop. Chances are, he will try and prove his loyalty to the Saviors by revealing that Maggie is still alive (Rick told Negan she died) and that Daryl is hiding out from them (Negan still considers Daryl a fugitive, after all). Gregory probably thinks that revealing those secrets will make Negan trust him more, but I think it’s just as likely that it will get him killed.
Daryl Ruins Things
I know, I should give Daryl a break. He’s been through a lot this season, from seeing his friends die right in front of him to being tortured by Dwight in an attempt to make him “be Negan” too. He escaped, as you probably remember, with the help of Dwight’s former wife. Naturally, he’s still plenty upset the whole thing. He had to be held back from strangling Dwight when he showed up offering to help Rick at the end of the last episode, and we think that red hot anger will cause problems for whatever Rick has planned. There’s already a healthy amount of distrust for Dwight (and rightfully so), but even if the (former?) Savior can convince Rick that he’s genuine about jumping ship, Daryl is never going to believe it.
I said no one important would die, and I stand by that claim by saying that Sasha is not an important character. I know she tried to Rambo her way into the Saviors compound and kill Negan, in order to avenge Abraham’s death. But she’s of such little importance, that we weren’t even shown those scenes. They just cut straight to her being locked in a cell, as Negan laughed at her feeble attempts to kill him and her “beach ball sized lady nuts.” Now she’s in possession of a poison pill, even though I don’t believe for a second that she is actually planning to kill herself. The simple truth is that someone semi-important probably needs to die in this season finale, and Sonequa Martin-Green is set to be in the lead role of the new Star Trek: Discovery series. Do the math, people. RIP Sasha.
This one should be obvious, especially to comic readers, but Negan is going to get out alive of whatever skirmish happens. I know that bucks the trend of television “big bads” coming in for a season and then being killed off by the end of it (think of the Dexter model), but Negan is hanging around for a while longer. Jeffrey Dean Morgan has already confirmed he will be a part of Season Eight, plus Negan has plenty more left in his comic story for AMC producers to show us on the screen. He’s an important part of the eventual battle with The Whisperers, so no matter what happens at the end of the season finale, Negan will get away.
Stupid Cliffhanger Ending
I know that based on all the previous predictions, that you may be expecting some big battle, with lots of meaningless characters dying, and Negan somehow surviving the onslaught. However, it wouldn’t surprise me one little bit if the entire 90-minute episode is nothing but Rick gathering his troops from their various communities, marching on down to the Saviors’ compound, and then the episode ending as Rick and Negan stare each other down before battle, robbing fans of the payoff they have been building towards all season. Remember, it was only a year ago that Negan’s introduction was essentially ruined by the decision to end Season Six on the stupidest cliffhanger ever. There was a lot of negative backlash from that, but I don’t think those in charge of the show really cared. Would they dare to do it again? You’re damn right, they would.