In tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead, the name Negan got bandied around a few times, as the series has quickly moved from one war — with a horde of zombies — to the precipice of another, with the Saviors. It’s been a long time coming; the series has been hinting at the arrival of Negan for a couple of years.
I’m going to include a comic book spoiler here, but I think we can dispose of any pretense about what’s coming. Anyone who has followed The Walking Dead closely at all almost certainly knows what lies ahead: Negan is going to kill someone with his barbed-wire covered baseball bat, Lucille. In the comics, that someone was Glenn, but Scott Gimple has suggested a “hard left turn” in regard to what’s expected from the comic series.
Nevertheless, that hasn’t stopped The Walking Dead from foreshadowing Glenn’s death by baseball bat. Remember this moment from a few seasons ago?
Or how about one of Glenn’s near death experiences, this one involving the Terminites and a baseball bat.
Will they actually go through with killing Glenn after such obvious foreshadowing? Last year, during a segment on Chris Hardwick’s @midnight, Robert Kirkman was jokingly asked if he’d reveal any spoilers, and he came right out and said, “Eventually a character named Negan is introduced. He’s going to bash in Glenn’s brains with a baseball bat called Lucille.”
That “baseball bat” has been mentioned a couple of other times in just the last two episodes. Remember the midseason premiere cold open when Daryl, Abraham and Sasha confronted members of the Saviors? Remember what the lead Savior said?
“Usually, we introduce ourselves by popping one of you right off that bat.”
That line may also sound familiar from tonight’s episode. Jesus, as he was informing Rick and his crew about Negan, told them that the first thing Negan did was to kill one of their men, Rory. “He beat him to death, right in front of us. Said we needed to understand, right off the bat.
So, we know the bat is coming.
Who will be the recipient of that bat is the big question. Will it be Glenn, as it was in the comics? Or are Scott Gimple and Robert Kirkman offering foreshadowing clues with other people in Rick’s crew?
In last week’s episode, for instance, Carl told Michonne that if she were killed, Carl would insist on being the one to put down her zombified self. Was that foreshadowing?
Daryl has suddenly become withdrawn and distrustful. Are they preparing us for his character’s exit?
There was a lot of talk in tonight’s episode about Maggie’s baby and how risky it is to bring a child into the world? Are they suggesting that she won’t? Leaders who aren’t Rick do not survive long in The Walking Dead, and Maggie has taken on a leadership role in the wake of Deanna’s death.
Or will it be Morgan, someone who we haven’t seen much of lately? Or Abraham, whose love life has recently gotten complicated?
We’ll find out soon enough, and depending on the character, maybe sooner than we want.