As we made it through this episode of confrontations on "The Walking Dead," our candidate for who should die went ahead and died even before we could declare him.
We thought Jared (Joshua Mikel) was a bit more savvy than he turned out to be, and we certainly couldn't have predicted the tandem terror that was Morgan (Lennie James) and Rick (Andrew Lincoln). We would not want to be on the wrong side of these guys when they're having a bad day, and both of them are in a very, very bad place.
Morgan seems to be slipping his sanity again, seeing another vision this week of Henry (Macsen Lintz) saying the same thing Gavin (Jayson Warner Smith) did last week -- "You know what it is. You were supposed to." -- and he wasn't even dead! Meanwhile, Carl (Chandler Riggs) is still dead and Rick is not handling it well.
Maybe some wholesale slaughter of people who were essentially surrendering will help bring him back from the brink. If not, this show is running real low on heroes, and its darkness has already hurt it in the ratings. Be careful, fellas!
That smooth-talking sonuvabitch Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) can talk his way out of anything, as we saw this week when he used nothing but his Southern charm and a well-placed flare to turn the tables on Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh). But then he didn't exact his revenge on her, and suddenly we're seeing the softer side of Negan. Betrayed by Simon (Steven Ogg) and genuinely sorrowful for what happened to Jadis' people, it's easy to forget that his offer to her still is for her to get on board the "I Am Negan" train and be willing to kill to send a message.
Never forget Glenn (Steven Yeun) or Abraham (Michael Cudlitz)!
Before anyone starts thumbing through their old back issues, we're here to tell you right now, we don't care. Carl is dead. Carol (Melissa McBride) is alive. Things change, and sometimes for the better. Time jump or no, there is not a place for Negan in this rebuilt society once we're finally done with this "All Out War." His type of ruthless brutality to keep people in line just doesn't fit with the more compassionate way things are done at The Hilltop and if they ever rebuild The Kingdom and Alexandria.
Of course, as those words sit there, Rick and Morgan have just slaughtered a whole group of Savior survivors who fled The Hilltop last week, so maybe no one really has compassion anymore. Maggie (Lauren Cohan) has made no secret of the fact that she is almost blinded by her desire to kill Negan. And so, he will probably survive, if only as a symbol that Maggie and Rick and the rest have rediscovered the path of human decency. But he should totally die... or at the best, be exiled and never seen again. No, he should die!
Thinking about the source material too closely is how deaths like Carl's can slip by us, so we're jumping out on a limb and saying that Eugene (Josh McDermitt) isn't going to survive this final battle. Sure, he's had a few moments where he did the right thing, but he's still mostly a coward and he fully committed to Negan's side on more than one occasion these past couple of seasons.
Add to that the fact that we have a far better and more interesting redemption story going in Dwight (Austin Amelio), and I don't think the TV version of "The Walking Dead" is going to feel the need to tell the same story twice. Plus, Dwight is already further along that path than Eugene, who just keeps waffling and letting his cowardice get the better of him.
He'd rather get drunk than do the right thing, and they've gone so far in his willingness to do anything to save his own skin, the character may well be beyond redemption. Even when he does the right thing, if his back is against the wall, he'll do something like offer to make bullets or build a diversion to free The Saviors from a zombie horde. We're just seeing the capacity for this character to grow a backbone or ever emerge as a strong leader people could truly rely on.
The ultimate self-preservationist might be a good survivor, but like Gregory (Xander Berkeley), he'll never be a hero. He'll just be alive.