Thursday, June 9, 2016

Who Got Lucille'd

I've written about the Walking Dead here before. It's a bit embarrassing to look back on, as I thought the show deserved to be canceled five years ago, but I still stand by the points I made in that post. Many of the problems have been addressed, but a few of the big ones remain. Characters are still inconsistent and tend to change depending on where the plot needs to go instead of vice-versa.

But if you've been watching since then, you probably know about the latest season finale and the shitstorm that ensued. In short, fans allege that the writers (and the network) took one of the most heart-wrenching, game-changing moments in the comic and neutered it for hype and to ensure audience draw when the show comes back next year. What we know is that someone (surprise!) died, and they didn't show who.

So theories abound and comic comparisons and contradictions are launched, and the fanbase plays into the hands of the people making all the money. So I'll do it, too. What the hell? Who died? Who got Lucille'd? Let's go in order of least to most likely candidates. And spoilers for both the show and comic follow, so be prepared.

This is Lucille. She is awesome.

8. Rick & Carl

It's straight-up not them. Negan says, as he begins to swing on his victim, "Anybody moves, anybody says anything, cut the boy's other eye out and feed it to his father and then we'll start." That tells you right there that it's neither of them. Plus, writer Robert Kirkman has confirmed that he never plans to kill Carl. So bam.

7. Aaron, Sasha, & Rosita

This is more of a practical reason. These characters weren't on the receiving end of a beating simply because the audience wouldn't care. Not to say they aren't likable characters. They just don't carry the weight that some of the others do. There's weight to six months of buildup for these characters. If the show came back and it had been Rosita bludgeoned to death, the audience would shrug and move on, and Negan's big moment would be stunted. They're fine.

6. Maggie

If the show didn't have the cajones to kill Judith the baby when she dies in the comic, they're not going to have a fetus beaten out of a woman. Plus, Maggie just got an important haircut that tells us something is on the horizon for her character. Additionally, the baby has to survive so the audience can have something to cling to while my number one choice gets the bat.

5. Michonne

The joke so far is that everyone Rick sleeps with gets killed. Michonne will break that trend. She's one of the long-running characters in the comic, she's stepped into the slot that TV-Andrea left empty, and from a merchandising standpoint, she's one of the most iconic characters. Michonne will be with us for a while.

4. Abraham

Now we get to the controversial picks. In the comics, Abraham is dead by now. That arrow that went through Denise's head a few episodes before? That was meant for Abe. So, as it stands, Abraham is technically on borrowed time. This means the show is free to do whatever they want with him. Do they want him to take the bat instead of the comic's choice? It could work, but for the same reason as the group in my point number seven, I don't think it would carry much weight. Abraham hasn't been around or done much to make the audience really care for him very much. His breakup with Rosita might even make a few people say "good riddance." There was a small detail in the finale where Eugene, Abraham's partner in crime, hands him the "recipe" for making bullets in the newly discovered refinery. This effectively makes Eugene redundant, as this becomes his major contribution for the rest of-- wait a sec.

3. Eugene

--for the rest of the series. Now that Abraham has access to that same knowledge, Eugene can effectively be phased out. What's more, Eugene has quickly become a fan favorite with his awkward way of talking and biting his would-be executor in the nuts. He's also generally an innocent, as far as these characters go. Showing Negan just not caring at all about that would really set him up to be hated. Eugene is one of the few characters that people would really feel anger for, I think. He's also one of the three I can see the wait being worth.

2. Daryl

If you want to make an impact on your audience, you have to do something big. I believe the character that is killed here has to A) Have an effect on the group and B) Have an equal effect on the audience. Daryl checks both of these boxes. We've seen Daryl change since the beginning of the show. He's had several character arcs where he became more empathetic, lost his brother, did a selfless search for a lost little girl, etc. He's the face of the show. This could also be a reason not to kill him, however. Daryl brings in the cash. There are legions of fans who subscribe to the "If Daryl Dies We Riot" mentality, and with the fan backlash after than finale, I wouldn't be surprised if they backed off of him to garner some good will. What's more, Daryl is the single most successful TV show-only element. Without him, the show is essentially a visual novel. Daryl helps the two stand apart. Sure, he just got a new show on AMC, and a new show usually means a departure from the current one, but that could be because of Norman Reedus's appeal. Why not double that exposure? Hell, maybe they'll write him into Better Call Saul, too.
The last few episodes of TWD also introduced a rival for Daryl in Dwight. It could easily be a continuation of the "If Daryl never met the group" narrative that pops up every once in a while, but there's no real reason to begin that story and rivalry if Daryl is dead. Plot decisions affect the next plot decisions.

You know, unless you're Beth and the show makes a big deal out of you sacrificing everything to save Noah, only to have Noah get killed for no reason a couple episodes later. I'm still bitter about that.

1. Glenn

For fans of the comic, this is no surprise. And that's part of why writing this was too easy. Glenn's death is the single most famous spoiler for the comic. Everyone knows it happens, and for good reason. Glenn was with the group since the beginning. He was Rick's first contact after the apocalypse. He was the heart of the team. He was the underdog, going from pizza delivery boy to marrying the hottest lady on the show. That's why it seems like the show would pull a 180 at the last second and fake out the audience. This could be a classic Princess-Bride-never-go-against-a-Sicilian-when-death-is-on-the-line-overthinking-the-scenario move, but wouldn't the fact that everyone knows make you want to surprise the audience? It seems likely.
Unfortunately, even with that in mind, the odds have built up against him. He has a child coming into the world. Sure, Maggie had those terrible cramps in the finale and needs a doctor, but that'll be the miracle that the audience needs to recover from Glenn's death when it happens. Hey, at least his kid survived. There's also a shot when he leaves the compound of Maggie in the rear-view mirror. That's never a good sign when used in visual media. Or how about when they raid that compound? Glenn loses his innocence on screen when he stabs those guys through their eyes while they sleep. That's usually a sign that a character is about to get his comeuppance. Then Glenn comes across a wall of past Lucille victims' photos. That's a pretty clear instance of foreshadowing.
The only thing in Glenn's favor is lazy writing. This season already had a Glenn fakeout death at the midpoint. People discussed his possible death for weeks on the internet before everyone came to the conclusion that he was under the dumpster. Would the show play that same hand again? Would they be willing to mix it up because they just had a very similar situation? Beth's death makes me a little unsure.
Glenn has the right combination of character and audience sympathy. He's important to the story being told, he's an emotional anchor, and he's not very prevalent in the marketing blitz of the show. All of these signs point to a sad end for our Korean friend.

But at least his kid is gonna live, right?

This article was edited on 6/28/16 to include notes about Dwight and Glenn's midseason skirmish.

1 comment:

  1. Tis a good article and very accurate IMO. I believe, along with my fiancee, that it is Glenn. It makes all too much sense. But there is always that slight chance that the writers put some of the lead characters' names in a hat and drew something random out so that nobody could ever see it coming. So there's that. But we still think it's Glenn.