Warning: contains spoilers for The Walking Dead season 7. Here’s our season recap if you need a reminder.
For the first half of The Walking Dead season seven, we watched Rick’s group recoil in shock from the brutal murders of their loved ones. For the second half, we watched them prepare for battle. Season eight promises an all-out war between the Saviors and Rick’s rebels, as each tries to assert dominance over the world. It’s Alexandria, the Kingdom and Hilltop Vs the Sanctuary and the Heapsters. Baseball bat versus tiger. Rick versus Negan.
With no spoilers from, or idea of what happens in, the comics, here are a few questions we’d like to see answered when the The Walking Dead returns.
1. Where do Dwight’s loyalties truly lie?
Dwight’s not what you’d call a straight up and down kind of guy. Since meeting him in season six, we’ve seen his loyalty swing back and forth more often than Lucille when Negan’s teaching someone a lesson.
First, Dwight betrayed Negan when he, Sherry and Tina attempted to escape the Sanctuary with a cooler of insulin. Then, Dwight betrayed Daryl after making an alliance with him on said aborted escape attempt, stealing his crossbow and motorcycle. After receiving the hot iron treatment back at the Sanctuary, Dwight then appeared to become one of Negan’s loyal lieutenants, killing Denise (but aiming for Daryl), and torturing Daryl after Glenn and Abraham’s murders. However, Dwight then lied to Negan once again by mercy-killing Sanctuary-escapee Gordon rather than bringing him back into the fold.
After Sherry set Daryl free and escaped the Sanctuary, Dwight took a beating for it and was all set to go with her, betraying Negan again. When she dumped him via that goodbye note, he duly went back to Negan, but sought out Rosita and offered to make an alliance with Rick’s group. After the Heapsters betrayed Alexandria, Dwight left a carved soldier chess-piece containing the message “Didn’t know” for Daryl to find, indicating his continued loyalty to the Alexandrian group.
So where do Dwight’s loyalties really lie? If he is still on the anti-Negan side, does Negan know he’s a double agent? After all, if he really trusted Dwight, why wouldn’t he have let him in on the Heapster alliance? Unless Dwight knew all along and is lying to Daryl…
Here’s one answer to the question: Dwight’s loyalties lie with Sherry. He protected her from Negan first by framing Dr Carson for letting Daryl out despite knowing she was responsible, then by spinning Negan a tale about her being killed by Walkers. If Sherry’s still out there, that’s who Dwight will protect, and that’s who he’s loyal to.
2. Is Sherry still alive?
The odds of one person making it alone in the world of The Walking Dead are slim, but Sherry’s repeatedly proved herself a survivor. She was brave enough to escape the Sanctuary twice, and to save both Dwight and Daryl’s lives, the first by sacrificing herself and offering to become one of Negan’s wives, the second by freeing Daryl from his cell. We know she can make useful alliances, and had the strength to leave Dwight behind when she saw the person the Sanctuary had turned him into.
Sherry being dead would be a waste of potential for the show, especially as Norman Reedus said on the season seven disc commentaries that he thought a potential future romance was on the cards for Daryl and Sherry, and writer Angela Kang didn’t contradict him…
3. Is Morgan going to be okay?
Morgan has tried harder than anyone in The Walking Dead to retain his values and not become a monster. His pacifism was never an easy path and created hostility with the two people he’s become closest to since the world changed – Rick and Carol. When he strangled the Hilltop’s Richard, it was partly calculated to fulfil Richard’s plan to sacrifice himself and motivate Ezekiel to join the fight against Negan, but partly an enraged act of revenge for Benjamin’s death. Yes, he’d already killed somebody when he shot the Savior to protect Carol at the end of season six, but this was different. It was brutal and, like Benjamin’s death itself, awoke Morgan’s demons.
Will he recover? Carol gave Morgan her cottage so he could be on his own without being totally isolated, but warding off the disturbed, traumatised man he was in season three episode Clear, will take enormous strength. As Eugene pointed out in season seven, the zombie apocalypse is woefully lacking in adequate mental health support.
4. Will Carol become King Ezekiel’s consort?
Queen Carol? General Peletier has a better ring to it. Since her season one days, that woman’s been nobody’s sidekick. With Morgan living in her cottage, a potential pathway has opened up for Carol to start a new life at Hilltop (all-out war notwithstanding) with Ezekiel, a man who clearly cares for her judging by the way he opened up about the fantasy role he’s playing and the many excuses he found for dropping in on her with gifts. Is Carol about to finally get a lasting love interest?
5. Can/will Eugene redeem himself?
Eugene’s capitulation to Negan was one of season seven’s most distressing developments. Fans are fond of Eugene and therefore want to be able to admire him, but his self-serving actions last season were not admirable in the least. “I’m Negan,” Eugene told Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s character before he could even finish the question. “I’m utterly, completely, stone-cold Negan. I was Negan before I even met you; I just needed to meet you properly to know.”
Eugene is a survivor. Lies, plus a bit of nerdy knowledge, are his stock-in-trade. That’s what earned him the protection of Abraham and Rosita, and that’s what’s earning him the protection of the Sanctuary now. Yes, he did provide Sasha with the means to weaponise herself against Negan, but only unwittingly. And yes, all want him to be pulling a long-con and reveal himself loyal to Rick’s group, but it looks as though we’ll be waiting a long time for this coward to show his bravery. It would take a mighty act for Eugene and his grimblygunk to earn their way back into Alexandria.
6. Will Michonne and Rosita survive their injuries?
Michonne took one hell of a beating before throwing that Heapster off the top of the tower, but it looks as though she’ll survive.
And Rosita may have taken a bullet, but she seemed peaceful enough in her hospital bed too. Behind-the-scenes, actor Christian Serratos having a baby this year is a reason for Rosita being side-lined with an injury, just as Alanna Masterson’s pregnancy meant Tara was absent for much of the second half of season six and the first half of season seven.
7. What will happen to Gregory?
Toadying Hilltop leader Gregory isn’t an idiot, appraised Maggie in season seven, he’s a coward and they’re more dangerous. Mrs Rhee isn’t wrong. Gregory tried to sell Maggie and Sasha out to the Saviors the first chance he had, and spent the rest of the season trying to curry favour with Negan’s lieutenant Simon with various bottles of booze instead of standing up to him.
To be fair to Gregory, standing up to the Saviors has never worked out well, and despite us being led to believe that he was the “little bird” who had leaked Rick’s attack plan, he was also innocent of that crime. (The double-crossing Heapsters were of course responsible.)
It’s clear though, that if the Hilltop colony is going to have a future, Gregory isn’t the one to lead them. Maggie, with her smarts, courage, common sense and popularity, is perfect for the job. She’s no usurper though. He’ll have to vacate the position, either courtesy of the Saviors as punishment for Hilltop’s role in the rebellion, or some other means.
8. Who will deliver Maggie’s baby?
Now that Denise and Dr Carson the elder are gone, the available medical personnel on The Walking Dead are thin on the ground. Farmgirl Maggie delivered baby Judith by caesarean section, but who’ll do the job when her time comes? It’s hardly likely that Negan’s going to lend her his own doc for the purposes. The Kingdom nursed Carol back to health, so if that’s still standing when Maggie’s time comes, perhaps that’s her best bet.
That said, season seven took place over under three weeks of time in the world of the show, so if things progress at that rate then there’ll be plenty of time to wait for that happy event. She won’t even start showing until season eleven at least.
9. Is Heath still alive?
Corey Hawkins’ character was separated from Tara when they encountered a heap of sand Walkers and she floated away to her Oceanside adventure. What happened to Heath in the meantime? He lost his glasses in the fray, but the tyre tracks Tara spotted on her return to the bridge indicated that he got away. We know he was feeling despondent and a bit Ayn Rand about life following the traumatic events at the Satellite Outpost massacre, but have to hope he’s out there somewhere, still scavenging for his Alexandrian pals. Who knows, maybe he’ll have found something better than a few cans to bring back too.
10. Will the Heapsters stay loyal to Negan?
As they’re fond of saying, Jadis and the Heapster crew are all about taking and not bothering. They go where the best deal can be made, loyalty and ethics be damned. Will they remain loyal soldiers of Negan, or can a better bargain be reached? One thing’s certain – Rick’s group are unlikely to trust them again after the stunt they pulled in Alexandria.
A more pressing question might be why the Heapsters talk as though there’s a tax on verbs and conjunctions. It’s been, what, two years since the outbreak? No-one else has started speaking like Yoda.
11. Will Oceanside join the fight against Negan?
They have more reason to fight Negan than most. After all, the Saviors slaughtered their men and boys. Kickass Cyndie wants to take the fight to them, as do Natania’s two generals, but they first need the agreement of the whole group. Pint-sized killer Rachel looks deadly enough, Tara should watch her step.
12. How far and wide do the Saviors spread?
“That’s Negan” said the Savior car-jacked by Michonne on her one-woman mission to assassinate the Sanctuary leader, nodding towards a swarming townful of people. “Whatever you’re trying to do, you can’t”.
The Saviors number in the hundreds, even with fifty or so of them killed by Rick’s group by the end of season six, and even more dead in the battle of Alexandria, they still have the numbers (especially with the Heapsters on their side). They have several outposts and a number of communities they’re extorting. In an all-out war, they outnumber the rebels, but it might not be a numbers game.
13. Will Rick kill Negan?
Not today, not tomorrow, Rick Grimes promised Negan, but I will kill you. Rick certainly isn’t the only one to make that vow, or to take a shot at the man. Carl, Jesus, Sasha, Rosita and two of Negan’s wives, Frankie and Tanya, cooked up their own schemes to take him out in season seven, none of which worked. Will Rick keep his promise, or will the pleasure go to someone else? Who knows, perhaps Negan will do away with himself by leaning so far backwards one day that his spine will snap clean in two.
The Walking Dead season eight starts on Sunday the 22nd of October on AMC in the US and on Monday the 23rd of October on FOX here in the UK.