Why The Walking Dead Is About to Kill Off Half Its Cast


Just after zombies swarmed the gates of Alexandria in Episode 8, The Walking Dead show-runnerScott Gimple promised, “Episode 9 is one of the biggest episodes we’ve done.” “So many people die,” comic creator Robert Kirkman laughingly agreed of the upcoming midseason premiere. Now The Walking Dead creative team are famous for dropping morbid hyperbole around all their premieres and finales—every season is bigger than the last—but this time they’re not kidding. Here’s why.

As Dustin Rowles over on Uproxx points out, The Walking Dead is about to introduce a huge crowd of new characters. Not just Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s villainous Negan, but also several members of a new location called the Hilltop Colony as well as members of Negan’s gang, the Saviors. That’s a lot of new faces in the span of just eight episodes. And, if you’re like most people, you still can’t tell most of the Alexandrians apart. Throughout the first half of Season 6, characters you do recognize kept giving grand speeches to small crowds of total strangers.

If you’re Tyrion Lannister, you can give a speech to a rain-soaked throng of faceless Baratheon men, but if you’re Jessie Anderson on the streets of Alexandria, the effect just isn’t the same. Anyway, The Walking Dead has a very clear pattern of Rick and his group arriving at a location, endangering the lives of the residents who have built a society there, and moving on to the next location. Think of the prison purge, the Woodbury massacre, or the fire at Hershel’s farm. Not everyone in Alexandria will die. Rick is always good at picking up a survivor or two and incorporating them into his group. (My money’s on Merritt Wever’s Dr. Denise Cloyd.) But, certainly, all the Alexandrians you’ve not been able to tell apart during this season? They have to go. Given that this midseason premiere will take place on February 14, Rowles has already nicknamed it the Valentine’s Day Massacre.

That name is even more appropriate than you may think. More details on which recognizable Alexandria residents will probably kick the bucket below the spoiler warning.

The trailer for Episode 9 has a lot of hints as to why the midseason premiere will make for a particularly rough Valentine’s Day date. When we left off, Rick, Carl, Jessie, and her sons, Sam and Ron, were lined up in a row trying to re-create Rick and Glenn’s gut-smeared zombie walk from Season 1.

In the comics, this same set up goes just about as well as you might think. Jessie’s son—Ron in the comics but, as you can see, the agoraphobic Sam here—freaks out mid-plan. He refuses to go and calls out loud enough to alert the zombies. Jessie won’t leave him even as he goes down but also refuses to let go of Carl’s hand. The Episode 9 teaser makes sure you remember that she has a firm grasp on Carl.

In the comics, rather than watch his son get dragged into a zombie frenzy, Rick hacks off Jessie’s hand, effectively killing his girlfriend (who may or may not already be bitten at this point) to save his son. Ah, love in the time of zombies.

There’s also a lot of speculation that Jessie’s other son, Ron, will wind up shooting Carl in the eye during the fracas. It’s a different character in the comic book that gives Carl that disfiguring wound, but in the show it’s Ron who has been (literally) gunning for Carl. Rick’s going to feel pretty dumb about teaching that kid to shoot, now.

So, as you can see, this is going to make for rough viewing on Valentine’s Day. Maybe you should just re-watch “Now,” instead, and remember happier times.

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