The Walking Dead: The case for survival with each of the Lucille 11

At New York Comic-Con, The Walking Dead unveiled a shocking teaser clip, sadistically stoking fan anxieties over the controversial cliffhanger moment in which an unidentified member of Rick Grimes’ zombie apocalypse posse met an excessively brutal point-of-view death delivered from the barbed-wire bat “Lucille” by Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s chatty despot Negan.

However, per Morgan’s recent confirmation to Den of Geek, the episode – titled “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be” – will feature more than one brutal demise. Yet, even with the show upping the murderous ante, there are still no perfect choices in this killer quandary. People are going to be left in either a state of extreme shock or extreme disappointment.  

Therefore, with The Walking Dead Season 7 premiere looming on Oct. 23, I will be a benevolent advocate (for fictional characters), looking at the 11 “Lucille” candidates, shifting from the conventional question of who Negan killed and instead focus on why Negan shouldn’t kill each for the sake of the show.

Eugene Porter

Eugene (Josh McDermitt) has experienced a unique arc since his Season 4 debut, starting as a mawkish, manipulative, mullet-rocking pseudo-scientist who – motivated by his own cowardice – convinced Abraham, Rosita, and everyone that he was a zombie apocalypse savior whose journey to Washington D.C. would finally produce a cure. Yet, ever since that heartbreaking drama was sorted, we’ve witnessed him slowly find his courage and start defending himself against threats.

After the group’s arrival in Alexandria, Eugene managed to achieve a renewed and crucial purpose using what technical skills he legitimately does possess for imminent plans to manufacture bullets in the coming conflagration with the Saviors (a cause that’s admittedly not looking too auspicious right now). Eugene’s arc of redemption is far from complete and his prospective death – while powerful –  would serve very little purpose at this point.

Aaron (Surname Unknown)

Aaron (Ross Marquand) initially recruited a rough, road-weary Rick and company to become denizens in the Alexandria Safe Zone in Season 5. He’s a wide-eyed optimist who sees the good in people during a time when such a practice could prove fatal. Yet, he’s still smart enough to avoid its ugliness, representing a paradigm of civility that Rick ultimately wishes to achieve in remaking the world. However, he’s only had sporadic appearances on the show and, apart from the revelation that he’s an openly gay man in a relationship with fellow Alexandrian Eric, we still don’t know him all that well.

Therefore, having Aaron as a Lucille death would not carry anything close to the necessary gravitas the sequence demands. If anything, it would only revive the “Bury Your Gays” trope amongst the fandom, adding to the perception that television has a widespread habit of killing off its underrepresented demographic of gay characters. – All that for very little narrative reward.

Sasha Williams

Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) has no counterpart in the comic book source material, making her fate an interesting tossup. Since meeting her in Season 3 during the Prison/Woodbury hullaballoo, she has suffered numerous character-altering tragedies, having watched her newfound love interest Bob succumb to a walker bite and her older brother and protector Tyreese meet a similar fate.

Upon arriving in Alexandria, Sasha has transitioned from a place of dark ambivalence that ventured into suicidal territory into becoming a dead-eyed, sniper-rifle-brandishing enforcer for the group – an element analogous to the still-alive Andrea in the comics. While her burgeoning romance with Abraham could provide a tragic context, the prospective death of a character in the midst of a major transition would only be an innocuous sacrifice, essentially picking a fruit that hasn’t come close to ripening.

Rosita Espinoza

Rosita (Christian Serratos) was among the trio we met in Season 4, who, along with Abraham, was on quixotic quest to haul “scientist” Eugene to Washington D.C. Yet, considering how long we’ve known her, going back to the post-Prison days on the road, very little has been revealed about her character other than the fact that she was in a romantic relationship with a “Dolphin Smooth” Abraham. That simultaneously makes her the most expendable, yet least-impactful candidate to be killed.

Indeed, Rosita’s evolution has always been complementary to other characters, be it in the formerly hot-and-heavy failed romance with Abraham to Eugene’s apparent unrequited love for her, even with her current “friends with benefits” arrangement with Spencer Monroe. Thus, while she’s a formidable force in battle, her mere auxiliary status to more fleshed-out characters should automatically eliminate her as a “Lucille” victim.

Abraham Ford

Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), after coming onto the scene in Season 4 like a bull in a zombie apocalypse china shop, was irreparably altered upon the revelation of Eugene’s Washington D.C. duplicity. After all, the misguided mission to deliver the faux-scientist seemed like a divine lifeline that fell in his lap literally moments after discovering that walkers had victimized his wife and two children. However, after an awkward role transition, Abraham – despite his rough character edges – became an invaluable enforcer and, ominously enough, a legitimate “right hand man” like the one Negan boasts about having possibly killed in the teaser.

Abraham’s romance with Sasha would give his death a uniquely tragic angle, since he also unceremoniously kicked a still-pining Rosita to the curb. However, the possibility of having Abraham – who died in the comics at an earlier point in the storyline –  around for the “All Out War” that’s coming is far too great to be squandered by martyring him here. Besides, there’s plenty of unfinished business here vis-à-vis Rosita.

Glenn Rhee

Glenn (Steven Yeun) is clearly the prime candidate to become the pile of boney crimson pudding we saw in the teaser for several reasons, notably the fact that his source material counterpart famously met this fate in an iconic death moment right up there with Gwen Stacy and the Green Goblin. However, Glenn has endured several hardening travails that his late comic book counterpart hadn’t, notably in numerous near-death experiences, including that whole “Dumpstergate” fake death controversy in Season 6.

Glenn has been around since the inaugural season and his marriage to the now-pregnant Maggie also happens to add the heftiest tragic weight to his prospective demise. Yet, if the show wishes to surprise super-fans by swerving from the comics, then swapping out his death, creating several more canonical divergences might keep things fresh – especially if Maggie and his unborn baby are killed (fulfilling Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s “not just one person” decree), leading the formerly idealistic survivor into an intriguingly dark place.

Maggie Greene

Maggie (Lauren Cohan) is the last woman standing of the once-numerous farm-dwelling Greene clan we met back in Season 2. A smart, savvy person who led an ironically sheltered existence away from the apocalypse, she’s since become hardened and world-wise after having watched her family get whittled down one-by-one, notably with the Governor’s execution of her sagely father Hershel and the death of sister Beth during a botched hostage exchange.

However, her marriage with Glenn became her sole source of hope in the world, especially as she readies to bring his child into a nightmarish world filled with carnivorous corpses. Plus, at Alexandria, her apparent acumen for planning and politics has led to her being groomed for leadership. Those plot seeds were undoubtedly planted with a greater purpose in mind; a slow-burn investment that would instantly be rendered moot should she meet the business end of “Lucille” (shocking and profound as such a moment would be).

Daryl Dixon

Daryl (Norman Reedus) quite literally has a posse – and that’s not just some quote pulled from a Shepard Fairey print. While having no comic book counterpart, the crossbow-wielding badass became one of the most popular characters on the show -- nay, television itself. He’s conjured legions of fans, many whom regularly make the famous declaration, “If Daryl dies, we riot.” He’s also had quite the amazing arc since we met him in Season 1 as an irascible, combative varmint-hunting redneck stereotype angry over misfortunes dealt to his brother Merle. Later, the ordeal culminating in Merle's death revealed Daryl as a good man looking for a purpose; something that he found in the familial dynamic of Rick's group.

As with fellow “right-hand man” Abraham, he’s become an essential world-wrecking asset to the group who pulls an incalculable weight. Moreover, Rick cemented Daryl’s place in a very personal way in Season 4, when, in the aftermath of the Claimers ordeal, he told him, “You’re my brother.” Mind you, these are things that would make Daryl a poetic and, I daresay, perfect choice to meet “Lucille,” especially since he's already nursing a potentially fatal bullet wound, courtesy of Dwight. However, the reason NOT to kill him lies in the practical aspect that he has way too many fans and the blowback might just be irrevocable.

Michonne (Surname Unknown)

Michonne (Danai Gurira), running from a painful past, relegated herself to a solitary existence when we met her in the Season 2 finale (full-faced in Season 3) chained to a pair of armless, jawless walkers used to blend safely amongst the dead during travels. However, we’ve witnessed her quest for personal identity, evolving from an introverted, stoic samurai sword-wielding badass into a more affable, nurturing samurai sword-wielding badass and a reliably formidable enforcer for the group.

Unlike her more ambivalent comic book counterpart, Michonne found her purpose, as a friend and mother figure to Carl and, in a natural progression of that role, a love interest to Rick. Thus, the idea of her being a “Lucille” victim would toss a devastating wrench in the works of the blossoming #Richonne romance and the dynamic of the entire show. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it certainly doesn’t feel as if Michonne’s arc has even come close to its destination, which might leave her death feeling like an empty, almost anti-climactic event.   

Carl Grimes

Carl (Chandler Riggs) has always been his father Rick’s motivation in the long-term endeavor to remake the undead world into a civilization in which he (and now infant sister Judith) can properly grow. Ironically enough, with the initial outbreak occurring when Carl was young and malleable, he also happens to be a prototypical product of the unforgiving, often amoral world that Rick wants to tame; something magnified by devastating losses across the seasons such as unhinged father figure Shane Walsh and his mother Lori Grimes.

However, by the time the group moved to Alexandria, Carl found a confidence in himself with Rick’s elevated role, a sword-swinging role model in Michonne and an adolescent romance with the mysterious survivor Enid. In fact, the recent loss of his right eye did little to deter his hardcore tenacity; something that was even apparent to Negan when referring to Carl as “the little future serial killer.” Thus, the idea of Carl meeting “Lucille” – an admittedly edgy choice – is nevertheless filled with anticlimactic folly, killing a character whose plot potential is so integral to the future of the mythology.

Rick Grimes

Rick (Andrew Lincoln), as the show’s protagonist, has an unmistakable bond with the viewers. The former Georgia sheriff deputy’s Shakespearean-tragic existence is defined by a search for civilization in which his son Carl can have a meaningful upbringing; a process that has led to betrayal from his best friend Shane, the death of his wife Lori, too many bad run-ins with other groups and the deaths of beloved friends. While he does still have Carl and baby daughter Judith, the apocalypse has been especially unkind to him lately with a recent relationship with Jessie that quite literally had to be severed at the wrist after his would-be blended family was consumed by walkers.

Yet, the pragmatic Rick continued his Sisyphean struggle with preemptive acts of guerilla warfare against the Saviors that landed him and his group outnumbered at gunpoint awaiting a grisly fate. While Rick is engaging in a fan-pleasing romance with Michonne, might we see the leader of the ill-advised operation take one for the team in the most definitively fatal way in a stupendous show shake-up of Ned Stark proportions? Well, to be honest, there’s already evidence suggesting the answer is “no.” While other cast members are capable of stepping into the protagonist spot, The Walking Dead, at its heart, still defines itself through Rick’s story. Changing that dynamic as late as Season 7 would be a sign of desperation.

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