There are two episodes left of the ninth season of The Walking Dead, “The Calm Before” and “The Storm,” and both are expected to take place during a pivotal moment in the series, the Trade Fair, an event that the series has been building toward since the time jump after Rick’s departure from the series. The trade fair is designed as a community-building event for The Hilltop, Alexandria, and The Kingdom, as well as an opportunity for the three communities to enact the vision that Rick and Michonne had for their futures, embodied in the charter written by Michonne and subsequently passed on to Ezekiel.
It’s no spoiler to anyone who has been watching the series so far to say that The Whisperers will disrupt the fair and that there will be a large body count. The details, however, are spoilers, so be warned that the content that follows will be based, in part on the comics, on the accidental spoiler of a cast member of the series, and our own speculation. If you don’t want to be spoiled, back away now.
I will, however, leave most of the details alone, except to say that by the end of the season finale, allied communities will find themselves in a position they found themselves in after Negan killed Abraham and Glenn: Broken, dispirited, and in complete shock. That’s because of what is seen in the unused footage for the season 9 The Walking Dead title sequence:
In the midst of the fair, The Whisperers decide to mark their territory, and they do so by establishing a long line of reanimated heads impaled on stakes. There are 12 named characters from the comics who end up on those stakes. Some of those characters do not exist on the television show, and some of the characters (like Olivia) are already dead on the TV series. Some of the characters are obviously going to be glorified extras, and there are a few red shirts who are going to make prime candidates, because they have gotten longer glimpses this season than their characters might have otherwise warranted. They include DJ, Marco, Oscar, Bertie, Gage, and Adeline (all pictured here). Several of them, in fact, are featured in a scene from this week’s episode.
That covers around 5 or 6 of the 12. Unfortunately, I also fear that Scott — the true MVP of The Walking Dead — may also find his head on a stake because the series reminded us in the last episode that he still exists, which makes it a perfect time to take him out of existence.
In the comics, Luke (played by Dan Fogler on the television series) dies, but I have my doubts about that happening in the series. Dan Fogler (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) was a fairly big get for the series, and it would seem strange for him to come on for only one season and contribute fairly little. Someone from Magna’s group will probably die because it’s necessary to embolden that group against the Whisperers, but I suspect it will be Kelly, the least developed of the four Magna members.
Another likely victim may be Diane, a member of The Kingdom who is recognizable, but not crucial to the series.
Alden, the Savior turned Hilltopper, also seems a likely target. It’ll hurt Enid, but it won’t really hurt viewers, because we don’t know him well enough to have gotten attached. It makes him a perfect sacrifice.
One other character that we can all but confirm will die is Tammy Rose, if only because Brett Butler posted a goodbye message to Instagram before immediately deleting it. Oops. In the message, she also seemed to indicate that her character’s husband, Earl the Blacksmith, will also meet his maker.
There are also two more. Those are the biggies. In the comics, it’s Ezekiel and the newly pregnant Rosita, and there’s some evidence to suggest that the television show will remain faithful to the comics in that regard. Rosita is pregnant, as she was in the comics, while there have been unconfirmed rumors that Khary Payton is leaving the series.
However, with the losses of Maggie, Rick, Carl, Jesus, and the forthcoming departure of Michonne, The Walking Dead can’t afford to kill off two more well established characters. In fact, I don’t think either one will be killed off, because both may be trolling viewers on Instagram.
In Ezekiel’s stead, unfortunately I fear that Jerry will take the fall. The series introduced us to his family a few episodes ago, which seemed designed to make us care for him even more, a tried and true showrunner trick before killing a character off. It’ll be a big loss, and one that viewers will feel, but it wouldn’t be detrimental to the future of series.
Meanwhile, I do think that the series will kill off a longtime character, but instead of Rosita, I have a hunch they will kill off Tara. Why? Because there are so few established Alexandrian characters remaining that Rosita’s absence would be felt more, plus it leaves an opening as leader of The Hilltop, an opening that either Daryl or Magna could fill next season. Daryl needs to become a permanent resident of The Hilltop, because that’s where Connie is, and the future of The Walking Dead romances needs to be Daryl and Connie.
Tune into this week’s The Walking Dead and the season finale in two weeks to find out exactly who will make up the fence of human heads.