Here’s what we know. Negan ended the episode by smashing his baseball bat, Lucille, into someone’s head. Here’s what we don’t know: Whose head it was.
The question that remains, however, is: Who does know, and when did they find out? Did they know when they filmed the episode who was going to be at the end of the baseball bat? Robert Kirkman suggested as much on The Talking Dead, when he said “there are clues” in the final sequence as to who will die. In a later interview, however, showrunner Scott Gimple seemed to dismiss any suggestion that there are clues about who died, telling Entertainment Weekly:
“I believe there is no way. There are a couple of things in there that might help people possibly limit the amount of people who are vulnerable. But I will recommend people not to go down that route. I truly don’t think there’s a way to puzzle it all out definitively.”
In other words, we can analyze the audio, we can freeze frame and zoom in on certain shots, and we can try to figure it out based on the facial expressions of the cast all we want, but the truth is, we’ll never be able to piece it together because there are no clues. We know it won’t be Rick or Carl (because Negan said to feed Carl’s other eye to Rick if there was any funny business during the bashing), but otherwise, there’s nothing.
Is it possible that Kirkman and Co. didn’t know when they shot the episode who would die? We know, for instance, that Chandler Riggs didn’t know. He read the script six months ago, and he still hasn’t got a clue. We know that none of the other actors knew, either. In fact, according to Greg Nicotero — the director — not even Jeffrey Dean Morgan knew, because all the actors had gone home before he finally swung his bat down.
As a matter of fact, if I’m not mistaken, I think we had wrapped all of the actors, because the shot we did with Negan, the sun was coming up and Jeffrey was about to get on a plane and fly back to New York and we didn’t have anybody there because we didn’t want even somebody on the crew or somebody there to go, “Oh I get it, I know what’s going to happen.” So I think they were all gone. We built a little rig for Jeffrey to hit so that there would be impact with the baseball bat.
Many have been speculating online that nobody knew who is at the end of the bat, not even Robert Kirkman and Scott Gimple, because they hadn’t written the scene yet, and they were still trying to figure out who would die to start season seven.
However, what is stranger still is that Greg Nicotero says that he doesn’t even know if the actor who plays the victim knows he or she is off the show yet, or if he or she will show up to film the scene, which hasn’t been shot yet. Nicotero will presumably direct the episode, and while he says he knows a rough outline of the story, he hasn’t seen a script yet.
The question is: Why not? Filming begins next month on the seventh season. It takes a long time to write scripts. I’m sure it doesn’t take as long to write them on The Walking Dead as it does on Better Call Saul, but according to Vince Gilligan, they sometimes spend three weeks breaking a script for one episode, and they write most of the season before they even begin shooting, meaning the writers on The Walking Dead have probably written a few episodes, if filming is only a month away.
Someone should’ve gotten the call by now, right?
Here’s where it gets even more confusing. If they didn’t know who was going to die in the scene, then why were Lauren Cohan and Andrew Lincoln so upset about shooting the finale? Remember what Lincoln said about the finale?
“It was the first day in the whole six years of working on The Walking Dead that I was late for work because I woke up in the middle of the night and I couldn’t get back to sleep. I was so angry and frustrated and I felt sick. And that was just after reading it.”
Reading what? That Negan killed an unspecified character? Without knowing who was at the end of that bat, what about the scene made him feel that sick? Lauren Cohan also added, “It took a really, really long time for everybody to feel okay again after the finale.” Why? And why didn’t Jeffrey Dean Morgan know if it was a cliffhanger, as he said, “until he watched the show?”
If Cohan and Lincoln were made sick by the scene, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan didn’t know there was even a cliffhanger involved, is it possible that some of the actors did know who was at the end of the bat? Is it possible someone — Gimple, Kirkman, or AMC — changed their mind about who was going to die? After all, Lauren Cohan’s tune change a lot between February — when she said it took a “long time for everyone to feel okay again” — and last week, when she was teasing it as the “cliffhangeriest episode of all time.”
Did Andrew Lincoln feel sick to his stomach because he knew viewers would be upset by the cliffhanger? Or did he and the other actors actually know. Otherwise, why would — as Andrew Lincoln claimed in Variety — the other actors on set not talk about who was killed?
“Because it’s too painful and too intense, we made a pact on set that we won’t speak about it,” he stated. “I apologize but I can’t talk about it.”
Wait? Could they not talk about it because they didn’t know who died? Or because it was “too painful and too intense” to speak about who it was?
Who knows what here, and when did they find out? Was it always designed to be a cliffhanger? Or did someone change their mind between the time it was shot and the time it aired?
I don’t know, but the statements from the cast and crew don’t seem to add up. Something fishy is going on.