One character's death would serve as the perfect catalyst to move beyond the war, but another one is totally going to bite the bullet first.
This war may well end in the most unexpected of ways, if the latest episode of "The Walking Dead" is anything to go by. The wheels just kept coming off of the Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) train until, by the end of the hour, he found himself on the wrong end of a gun facing a very, very uncertain future ... because crazy was behind the barrel.
There is so much anger and mistrust and animosity within the characters, it's hard to imagine Carl's (Chandler Riggs) vision for a brighter future ever emerging from this world. And when Maggie (Lauren Cohan) was tested this week in a big way, it was easy to see her taking the safer route. It would have been a route far darker and more isolated, but it would have ensured the safety of her people at the Hilltop.
And yet, it's exactly what Carl has been trying to teach Rick (Andrew Lincoln), and what he sees as a necessary shift in how business has been conducted. This is a story beat we've seen over and over again, but for the first time in a long time, after Michonne (Danai Gurira) convinced Maggie to take a chance and trust Georgie and her cohorts, things didn't all go straight to hell. In fact, it may be the opening salvo of some hope in this universe (but it's probably not).
For right now, we need this forsaken war to be over so we can move into that future and finally start to deal with something exciting and new. What is intriguing us now, though, is just how this war might come to an end. We didn't anticipate mutiny from within Negan's ranks, but that's exactly what Simon (Steven Ogg) pulled this week. Throw Dwight (Austin Amelio) -- who is guaranteed to work from the inside to sabotage Simon's plans to eliminate The Hilltop completely -- into the mix and Negan is in more trouble than he knows.
And he's in a world of trouble, waking up at the end of the episode with Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) holding a gun on him. Where is she taking him? She has no loyalty to anyone at this point -- especially after Rick abandoned her with her turned people in the junkyard -- and no direct comics counterpart. Negan's fate is truly off-script at this point, which is pretty exciting in its own right.
Jadis may have the upper hand for the moment, but she's also squaring off against Negan. She has no allies and no friends at this point, meaning she's better served as a plot point than anything. Jadis is the living representation of Simon's willful disobedience of Negan. It is Simon's fault that she has so much rage toward Negan, and while he might be able to convince her that slaughtering the Scavengers went strictly against his direct orders, it won't soothe her bloodlust.
Also, for the sake of Rick and Maggie and the others in The Hilltop, Jadis can represent what happens when that blind rage and need for revenge takes over completely. She is -- understandably -- absolutely consumed by grief and her emotions are tenuous at best. She may well have gone completely over the edge watching her own people go through the meat grinder and be certifiably insane now.
The point remains that her usefulness as a character ended when she no longer had a community of her own. She's too much of a self-serving wild card to ever fully join Team Rick, nor would she ever side with Negan again. All that's left for her is to serve as a symbol.
Jadis represents Simon's betrayal of Negan, and stands as evidence that killing people does not make ready allies out of the survivors. She represents what happens when you let revenge consume you at the cost of your own humanity. She represents what happens when you stop trusting in anyone and become completely self-serving. The price she has paid for this degradation of her integrity and basic human decency is that she is now alone and broken. Could she be rebuilt into something valuable? Sure, but should she? No, she should instead serve as a living tool to help so many characters realize a better path forward ... by dying.
WILL DIE INSTEAD
We didn't see her after Simon's little coup, but Arat (Elizabeth Ludlow) is one of Negan's fiercest and most loyal lieutenants. She already voiced her opposition to Simon assuming command of the Saviors, without fully verifying Negan's fate, and totally changing the game plan. Negan wanted to intimidate The Hilltop into getting in line. As Simon made perfectly clear to Dwight, "They don't scare."
His plan, instead, is for the Saviors to simply "move on." Dwight was actually on board this plan until Simon revealed the other side of it when talking to the Saviors in the convoy. It's not about just moving on and setting up camp elsewhere, he wants to do to The Hilltop what he did to the Scavengers ... and Jadis is the only person left alive from that once thriving community.
It's too much too fast, but most of the Saviors seemed to take quite keenly to Simon's plan. It's no wonder as these are rather bloodthirsty and awful people, and Negan's plan is about showing restraint. How will the plan progress without Negan? Is Jadis taking him to The Hilltop where he'll side against his own people, as Simon broke his rules and went rogue and the Saviors seem to have followed suit?
No matter what happens, a reckoning is forthcoming and Arat is going to be right in the middle of it. There is always collateral damage in instances like this, and we think her loyalty and bravery will be her undoing, as she'll either stand in front of a bullet to save Negan, or otherwise be sacrificed on his behalf.
"The Walking Dead" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.