It's going to be a wild ride through this eighth season of AMC's "The Walking Dead" if that season premiere is any indication. And wild on "The Walking Dead" means lots of walkers, lots of gunfire, and lots of dead bodies. But will they be the right dead bodies? That's what really matters on shows like this one and "Game of Thrones."
A lot of people die, but oftentimes it's not the people we wish would die. We've decided to take a stand and declare definitively who we think should absolutely be the next character to die. But we're realistic, too, and know we don't always get what we want on "The Walking Dead." So we're also going to look at who's probably going to die next based on the signs given in the show. After all, they love to shine a spotlight on someone to remind you that you love them right before ripping your -- and sometimes their -- heart out.
First up this season, it's pretty obvious who should be the next to die, but alas rats and snakes are usually survivors. Gregory (Xander Berkeley) has proven since we first went to the Hilltop to be an incompetent leader, a petty and vindictive man, and a spineless weasel. But this week he had a one-two punch of awfulness that almost left us ready to take him out ourselves.
First, he emerged from the Sanctuary factory homebase to stand alongside Negan and haughtily declare the Hilltop Colony's solidarity with the Saviors and their bat-wielding lunatic leader. He tried to be all leaderly himself by shouting to the Hilltop residents that they needed to all go home and set down their arms, or they'd be exiled from the community along with their entire families. A tough stance to take, but alas Gregory apparently made Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) promises he couldn't keep.
He's already lost the Hilltop. Maggie (Lauren Cohan) stepped up in the absence of any true leadership and shepherded his flock into a fighting force ready to battle for their own independence and freedom. It was she who stood alongside Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Ezekiel (Khary Payton) atop that truck to rally their combined troops into this military attack. Gregory's grand declarations would be like us walking into McDonalds and telling everyone to go ahead and take the rest of the day off.
But that wasn't his most egregious offense. Recovering coward Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) resolved to do the right thing and save Gregory after the walkers had begun to take the Sanctuary, and what did he get for his heroism and bravery? Gregory stole his car and abandoned him there. It was a huge testament to the growth of Gabriel as a character on this show, and a reflection of the kind of cowardice that used to dictate his own actions.
Gabriel is proof that Gregory could come back from this and be a strong leader again, but it doesn't mean we like him any more. In fact, we like Gregory even less than we did before when we just had no respect for him. Now, we're ready for him to go!
Following the pattern of previous deaths, things aren't looking good for poor Father Gabriel.
While it might seem too obvious, considering he was left in the clutches of Negan at the close of the episode, his situation is bleak for several reasons. One is that his character's redemption journey from someone who hid from the walkers in his church while his parishioners died to a man of conviction and bravery was capped off nicely with his attempt to save Gregory from the shambling hordes.
Add to this the fact that he and Negan are in a precarious position at the moment, surrounded in a tiny trailer by that same horde, and his chances of survival drop even more. Then there's the fact that Gabriel is on Rick's side and it was they who wrecked Negan's sanctuary, and you're looking at a primo chance for revenge.
Whether Negan utilizes Gabriel's death to help him survive their current predicament, or saves it to present a symbolic gesture for Rick as "All Out War" erupts across the season, it doesn't seem the good pastor has a chance of getting out of this one alive. After all, in the world of "The Walking Dead," the reward for doing the right thing is often a most unpleasant demise.
The carnage continues on "The Walking Dead," Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on AMC.