And so it comes to this: after fifteen episodes that have oscillated between nail-bitingly tense drama and hands-over-your-eyes-what-the-fuck-are-they-doing? madness (both in a good and bad sense), the action will come to a head next Monday (or Sunday if you’re in the US) as The Walking Dead’s sixth season draws to a close.
Here’s your usual warning klaxon before we get into it – here come the spoilers, all the spoilers, so look away now if you’re not fully up to date with proceedings.
The last edition of the globally-popular humans-fight-zombies marathon left our intrepid band of good guys (although that’s a label that’s been tested to the hilt these past couple of seasons) in a bit of a pickle, as tensions with the mysterious ‘Saviors’ gang edged further towards forcing complete and utter devastation for the former’s new and supposedly stable way of life – just a standard walk in the park in our favourite zombie show, then.
As the flighty Carol left the relatively safe haven of Alexandria to go and… well, we’re not too sure what her reason was, her desertion kick-started a flurry of activity at the entrance of the gated community as the bravest (read: stupidest) members of the gang decided to go off after her/one another. To be honest, once the episode opened with Rick lying in bed with new squeeze Michonne (a questionable storyline in itself) contently sighing about how “this is good” and “everything we need is right here in these walls”, you just knew something was up. Rule one of zombie club, Rick: you don’t talk about how good everything is in zombie club, because that’s when shit really starts to rain from above.
The chain of misfortunate events subsequently rolled in with the purpose of setting up shop for next week’s 90-minute finale spectacle: Carol reluctantly slayed a load of Saviors (although one did get away, ominously) single-handedly; Morgan parted ways with Rick after a clearing-the-air session, possibly with the intention of never returning to Alexandria (read: he will return to Alexandria at some point); Maggie succumbed to excruciating abdominal pains after a particularly terrible hair cut from Enid; and Glenn, Michonne, Rosita and Daryl were captured by the show’s new terrifying band of antagonists, led at this time by burns victim Dwight. Oh, and then there was the small matter of the cliff-hanger: Dwight shot Daryl, point blank, just as the screen cut to black. SHIT.
So what can we expect from the final episode of this dramatic season? Well, as we’ve mentioned before, the walkers surely won’t play much of a decisive part in proceedings – those still alive in The Walking Dead universe have survived long enough in this dystopia to be able to cope with the odd slow-moving member of the undead or 10.
But what will happen will most likely involve Rick getting wind of the existence of the shit creek that Daryl and Glenn and co. have rowed up the previous episode and going out to exact his own form of justice – after all, his new squeeze is caught up in all the drama with the Saviors, so he’s not going to let that one lie, is he? This will in turn most likely set up a showdown with Dwight and his faction, before, as the trailer for next week’s episode promises, the main event: the arrival of Negan, possibly The Walking Dead’s biggest bastard yet.
We’ve already speculated on what Rick’s (and possibly the remainder of humanity’s) new foe might bring to the zombie party – with much interest online centring on whether the showrunners will stay true to what happens in the Walking Dead comics, specifically issue 100 – and, judging from the trailer, his arrival isn’t going to be a pleasant one: check the barbed wire-wrapped baseball bat the leather jacket-wearing adversary is practically cradling with blood-riddled adulation.
Meanwhile, will Maggie survive the severe pain that made her double over at the end of the last episode, especially now Alexandria’s only doctor, Denise, found herself on the wrong end of one of Daryl’s arrows two episodes ago? Will Abraham make good on his promise to “tear the world a new asshole”? And will Daryl still be alive (read: yes, probably)?
There’s less than a week to go until we find out all these answers and more – it’s going to be bloody, and it’s going to be bloody brilliant.