TV Writer Joe Otterson thinks he knows who's going to die on The Walking Dead this weekend
On Sunday, October 23, Walking Dead fans will reunite with one of the biggest shows on TV. But it will be a bittersweet reunion.
The Walking Dead has always liked to leave its viewers hanging, but season six took that to extremes with the entry of a new villain, Negan, and one of the show's bloodiest cliffhangers yet.
One main character met a cruel demise but with no reveal, the credits rolled and fans were left shaking their heads. And probably cursing.
Fans were furious and now, with season seven nearing, it's still not clear which is more dangerous: Negan, the Walkers or the possibility of an outright revolt from within the fanbase.
Joe Otterson, a TV writer with The Wrap, tells Day 6 host Brent Bambury that he's never seen as visceral a response to the ending of a television show as he did with the season six finale of the Walking Dead.
"I was very upset when it first aired, but at the same time I know I'm going to be tuning in on Sunday night to find out what happens. I mean, how can you not at this point? After all this waiting, I just have to know," Otterson says.
It's the investment and emotional equity that keeps fans coming back. A sentiment expressed to Otterson by Andrew Lincoln, the Aussie actor who plays Rick Grimes, shortly after the controversial season finale.
Lincoln told him when working on a drama, the most important thing is to get strong emotional reactions from viewers, be it happiness, sadness or anger.
Get out the drones
Even though fans were determined to figure out who Negan beats to death, the producers managed to keep it all under wraps. "I think they basically just got into CIA, NSA-level encryption on this," Otterson says.
"I was reading a story earlier today — Robert Kirkman, the creator of the Walking Dead comic series was saying they had people shuttling cast members around set in these windowless vans, trying to keep the paparazzi from being able to see, who's on set on what days. They were using body doubles of actors—people dressed up like the characters—trying to sneak them around to confuse people."
Otterson says he's heard stories about people flying drones over the show's set to get pictures of the cast. He also tells Bambury that if someone were really keen on finding out, they probably could by simply exploring the plethora of the Walking Dead fansites. But he doesn't see the see the urgency in knowing prior to the premiere.
"As a TV fan I can't imagine doing that because why spoil it for yourself before you get a chance to watch it on TV," he says.
More than one death?
Otterson says that it's possible Negan could kill two main characters by the end of Sunday's season premiere. In a recent interview, Jeffrey Dean Morgan said that his character kills at least one person in the upcoming episode. But Otterson says that could be a misdirection as the show isn't shy about introducing new, albeit minor, characters on the show and killing them off right away.
"With the anger that's built around the cliffhanger ending, I think killing two major characters in one episode would probably be pushing it," he says.
Things to expect
The final scene in season six was among the show's most grisly moments to date and Otterson says things could get too dark for some people. "One of my initial reservations, before I even started watching the show was, 'Well, I'm not really a horror fan and this just seems very dark and very bleak.'"
But he says there are signs that The Walking Dead is more hopeful now than ever.
The series began with a small group of people and then slowly introduced small communities. The turning point, he says, was the Woodbury community from season three. Now, there is Alexandria, along with Negan and the Saviors and the Hilltop Colony—both of which were introduced in season six. In the upcoming season, viewers will be introduced to the Kingdom, run by King Ezekiel and his pet tiger Shiva.
There's a sense of community emerging within the show he says. "The world has gotten a lot bigger and the [Walkers] threat isn't as prevalent anymore and so I think as you're getting into more of the human side of things, I think it's gotten only more interesting and more compelling."
Like many fans of the show, Otterson has his own theories about the cliffhanger. He says Abraham, played by Michael Cudlitz, is going to be the one who meets Negan's barbed-wire bat, Lucille.
"Only because Glenn [played by Steven Yeun] was the person who died in the comics and then they just did a major death angle with [him] on the show, earlier in season six, so I don't think it's going to be him. I don't think it makes sense, story-wise, to almost kill him off in one part of the season and then actually kill him off at the end of the season."
He says many have speculated that it could be Daryl Dixon, following the release of a sneak peek during New York Comic Con. Daryl is seen wearing a blanket at the end of the finale and viewers see a similar-looking one on the ground when Negan is dragging Rick into the RV.
But Otterson has his doubts. "I don't think it's going to be him either just because he was a character created specifically for the show. There's absolutely no precedent in the comics to kill him off at any point and he's such a fan favourite."
For those itching to find out which character meets their untimely end, the Walking Dead season 7 premiere airs Oct. 23 at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.