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'The Walking Dead' Season Finale: Who'll Die and Why?
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'The Walking Dead' Season Finale: Who'll Die and Why?

Mar 29 2014, 8:46pm CDT | by

A look back at previous season finales suggests that, if history is any indication, two characters will likely die in Sunday’s episode of The Walking Dead. But who will they be? The best way to...

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29 weeks ago

'The Walking Dead' Season Finale: Who'll Die and Why?

Mar 29 2014, 8:46pm CDT | by

A look back at previous season finales suggests that, if history is any indication, two characters will likely die in Sunday’s episode of The Walking Dead. But who will they be?

The best way to figure this out—besides combing the internet for spoilers—is to think about this question the way the show’s writers do. So I applied Walker-lytics to television’s most pressing question.

In assessing a character’s fate, a showrunner like Scott M. Gimple faces two fundamental questions:

  • What do I get from killing this character now?
  • What do I lose going forward if this character dies?

The first question takes a short-term view: how will a particular character’s death affect the other characters? The audience? How will it advance—or change—the larger story arc.
The second takes the long view. How does the show change in seasons to come, for better and for worse, if this character is no longer around?/>

We asked those questions about each character in The Walking Dead. We attempted to quantify their prospects by rating them on scale of 1-5 each in a Kill Em Index and a Spare ‘Em Index. Subtracting one from the other yields a Survival Quotient. A positive SQ suggests a character is relatively safe. A negative SQ? Not so much.

Herewith, our merry band of would-be survivors and their prospects for doing just that

Rick Grimes: 

Why He’ll Die: Why kill Rick Grimes? Because it’s the most shocking thing the writing staff could possibly do. And The Walking Dead has never shied away from the shocking. There have been vague hints all season that no one’s safe on this series—including Rick. More to the point, insiders like Scott M. Gimple have said in so many words that the finale represents the culmination of Rick’s story arc. From a plot point of view, the pieces are definitely in place as Rick faces one specific threat– Joe’s gang of outlaws—and one vague one — whatever’s lying in wait at Terminus.

Why He Won’t: Because The Walking Dead would lose a lot–probably too much–if they killed Rick. The Walking Dead is Rick’s story and has been from the very first episode. The writers of the most successful show on television are not willing to take this huge gamble at this point. Probably.

Omen Alert:  Rick’s guileless smile watching Carl and Michonne the beginning of Episode 41

Kill ‘Em Index: 4.0

Spare ‘Em Index:  5

Survival Quotient:  +1

In 5 Words or Less: Too big a gamble

Carl Grimes:

Why He’ll Die: The one thing worse than death for Rick would be killing Carl. And for all his burgeoning survival skills, Carl also shows typically bad judgment and it’s easy to see him making a crucial error that could get him (or someone else) killed.

Why He Won’t:  They’ve killed two kids this season already. They won’t kill a third one. Or would they? Given his youth, Carl’s story arc will continue to evolve naturally, and he could eventually assume a leadership role beside—or instead of—Rick in seasons to come, and that’s a lot to sacrifice.

Omen Alert: His close encounter with the walker in the bedroom

Kill ‘Em Index: 4.75

Spare ‘Em Index:  4.0

Survival Quotient:  -0.75

In 5 Words or Less: They just might


Why She’ll Die: Her proximity to Rick and affection for Carl puts her in real danger of becoming collateral damage. And she’d certainly go down fighting.

Why She Won’t: Because she’s kills zombies in a photogenic way. Her katana is as valuable to the show as Daryl’s crossbow. That’s the reason she dodged a bullet—or a sword—when The Governor decided to decapitate Hershel instead of her in the mid-season finale.

Omen Alert: Michonne’s flashback was biggest reveal of the Final 8 and changes our view of her as a character, which would render her death more meaningful

Kill ‘Em Index: 4.0

Survival Quotient: 4.5

Survival Quotient: +0.5   

In 5 words or less:  Live by the sword

Daryl Dixon:

Why He’ll Die:  If you had merely watched every episode on Netflix but never read a news story about The Walking Dead, you might mark Daryl for death right now. He’s with Joe’s group, and, unbeknownst to him, they’re after Rick, Carl and Michonne. That’s a potentially volatile situation. His loyalty to Rick has been steadfast, so it’s easy to envision a scenario in which he sacrifice himself to save his post-Apocalypse family.

Why He Won’t: From a purely practical point of view, Daryl is the most popular character on the show, even more than Rick, and his death is the one that could provoke a fan revolt.  While his death would be resonant, he simply means too much to the show going forward.

Omen Alert: He looked so peaceful lying in that coffin.

Kill ‘Em Index: 3.5

Spare ‘Em Index: 5.0

Survival Quotient: 1.5

In 5 words or less:  2 Popular 2 Die

Beth Greene:
Why She’ll Die:/>
Because she was thrown in the trunk of a car which sped off into the night.  Because she sings. Because she talked about death around the campfire. But mostly because the stirrings of romance between her and Daryl might render her death a compelling motivation for one of the show’s most important characters

Why She Won’t: That aforementioned relationship with Daryl. Beth’s arc is up in the air—will we even see her in the finale?– but that could change very quickly.

Omen Alert: Talking about death with Daryl around the campfire

Kill ‘Em Index: 3.25

Spare ‘Em Index: 3.0

Survival Quotient: -0.75

In 5 Words Or Less: Locked in a trunk

Glenn Rhee:
Why He’ll Die:/>
Killing Glenn would rank close behind Rick and Daryl in terms of potentally dramatic deaths. While he’s something to live for—and how he’s fought to stay alive–he’s also got something to sacrifice his life for.  And the moment seems right with his touching reunion with Maggie still so fresh in our memories. (See Maggie below.) The wild card? Terminus. It’s hard know who’ll survive without knowing the dangers the group will face.

Why He Won’t: Don’t underestimate the fact that Glenn is one of a dwindling number of original characters.  I picture Glenn standing at a three-pronged fork in the road. In next year’s premiere, he could be a) a family man b) a widow c) dead. Which give him a 66 percent chance to survive

Omen Alert: Giving his riot gear to Eugene Porter.

Kill ‘Em Index: 4.75

Spare ‘Em Index: 3.75

Survival Quotient: -1.0

In Five Words Or Less:  Him or his wife

Maggie Greene:
Why She’ll Die:/>
  All the arguments in favor of killing Glenn apply to Maggie. Plus a few others. I think that seeing Glenn’s reaction to Maggie’s death would make for a more interesting material than the other way around. We could also find out that she was pregnant. Maggie’s death also kills her marriage to Glenn, but Bob and Sasha’s newly kindled relationship is waiting in the wings to fill the show’s  romance void, and Daryl is poised to take care of her sister Beth if Maggie dies.

Why She Won’t: Because the writers have bigger plans for Magglen. Seems to me that either these two crazy lovebirds have a kid. Or one of them dies. Probably Maggie.

Omen Alert: Burning that damned picture

Kill ‘Em Index: 4.75

Spare Em Index: 3.5

Survival Quotient: -1.25

In 5 Words or Less: Most likely major departure

Why She’ll Die:/>
Sasha’s been the most pragmatic of all, putting survival above all else, so her death would provide one of those ironies the show loves so much. She’s got people to mourn her, both Bob and Tyreese. A big Sasha-Tyreese reunion death scene could provide a big capper to the season./>

Why She Won’t: The new relationship with Bob could be a reason to keep her around (especially if Maggie or Glenn dies). Or  it could be a reason to kill her.

Omen Alert: That first kiss with Bob.

Kill ‘Em Index: 3.5

Save ‘Em Index t: 2.5

Survival Quotient: -1.o

In 5 Words or Less:  Rent, Don’t Buy

Bob Stookey:

Why He’ll Die:  Because, for once, he wouldn’t be the last man standing. It would be sad, but not, gut-wrenching if he died in order save the group as they face the dangers of Terminus.

Why He Won’t: Bob’s character arc —enhanced by Larry Gillard’s subtle performance–has been one of the best parts of this season and shows promise going forward. His budding romance with Sasha—they’re Magglen Lite–could be especially important if something happens to Maggie or Glenn. And if he and Sasha get married, he and Tyreese would become brothers-in-law and fans of The Wire would rejoice.

Omen Alert: That poignant flashback
Kill ‘Em Index: 3.0/>

Spare ‘Em Index: -2.5

Survival Quotient: -0.5

In 5 Words or Less: Not the Last Man Standing

Carol Peletier:

Why She’ll Die: For her sins? Carol is the ultimate pragmatist and she’s proven willing to do anything to save the people she cares about. Up to and including sacrificing her own life.

Why She Won’t:  Because “The Grove” gave her a depth that will prove invaluable moving forward, even if her arc isn’t totally clear. While she may not be as popular as Daryl or even Rick, Carol is really the show’s richest and best character now, so it would require a “Grove-worthy” moment to kill her off.  And I just don’t see that happening

Omen Alert: The Grove.

Kill ‘Em Index: 4.0

Spare ‘Em Index: 5.0

Survival Quotient: +1.0

In 5 Words or Less: The Grove is her legacy


Why He’ll Die: Tyreese got his big moment in The Grove. If he has to to go, this would be the time. His proximity to Judith could make him vulnerable from a pure plot perspective

Why He Wont: I think Carol and Tyreese have had their big moment of the year. It’s entirely possible we won’t even see them during this episode, although the Judith/Rick factor does give me pause.

Omen Alert: Relaxing in that Barcolounger.

Kill ‘Em Index: 4.0

Spare ‘Em Index: 4.5

Survival Quotient: +0.5

In 5 Words or Less: What’s his last name?

Judith Grimes:

Why She’ll Die: The only thing worse for Rick than Carl getting killed? Finding out Judith is still alive. And then watching her get killed. There’s a very strong argument to be made for killing off Judith, because it provides many of the same benefits as killing Carl in terms of how it affects Rick, with less down side.

Why She Won’t:  They killed two young girls this season already. They won’t kill a third one. Or would they? Honestly, the popular wisdom is that Judith is safe because of what happened to Mika and Lizzie. I’m not sure I buy that given that as a toddler it’ll be years before she can support her own story arcs.

Omen Alert: The Irony Factor: Even after what Carol and Tyreese sacrificed for her in “The Grove,” she still doesn’t survive

Kill ‘Em Index: 4.50

Spare ‘Em Index: 3.75

Survival Quotient:  -0.75

In 5 Words Or Less: Too many dead children?

Tara Chambler: 

Why She’ll Die: If you were to write a profile of the perfect victim, it would be Tara. We like her, but don’t love her. We know a little about her backstory, but she’s got few lasting connections to others in the group. She satisfied her plot function when Glenn found Maggie. She’s got a big secret which she could tell Maggie as she expires. In short, Tara’s got a huge bullseye on her back.

Why She Won’t Die: The writers had the perfect opportunity to kill her off last week, and they let it pass. That suggests that they have plans for her moving forward. Or maybe even more dramatic way to kill her this week.

Omen Alert: Her wounded knee

Kill ‘Em Index: 4.0

Spare ‘Em Index: 2.5

Survival Quotient: -1.0

In 5 Words or Less:  The Governor and my sister…

Eugene Porter:

Why He’ll Die: The Mullet.  But seriously, we know almost nothing about Porter, and care even less, so his death would be little more than comic relief at this point.

Why He Won’t: We’re only at the beginning of his story arc. The big question—does he really know something that can stop the plague or is he just bluffing?—remains unanswered, while the mission to get him to Washington D.C. helps move the plot forward.  Dr. Mullet also provides comic relief while alive.

Omen Alert: His amped-up state and ignorance of automatic weapons

Kill ‘Em Index: 2.0

Spare ‘Em Index: 3.0

Survival Quotient: +1.0

In 5 Words or Less: I’m Smarter Than You

Abraham Ford:

Why He’ll Die: The same caveats about Eugene largely apply to him. He could, maybe, catch a bullet trying to save Eugene. And all of mankind.

Why He Won’t Die: See Eugene. We’re at the beginning of his story—he’s the motor of the drive to D.C– and it seems unlikely that the writers would have introduced a group of characters to this crowded ensemble only to kill them off a handful of episodes later.

Omen Alert: He lost most of his group between Houston and Atlanta

Kill ‘Em Index: -2.5

Spare ‘Em Index: 3.0

Survival Quotient: +0.5

In 5 Words or Less: I like to fight

Rosita Espinosa:

Why She’ll Die: Can you say collateral damage? Again not much to be gained by killing her, although she so peripheral that the Abraham/Eugene story line could continue without her.
Why She Won’t: Yes, it’s sexist, but adding an attractive woman with a penchant for wearing short shorts and halter tops can’t hurt the show with its target adult male demographic.  Guys would miss her more than, say, Abraham./>

Omen Alert: Stopping the minivan on the train tracks.

Kill ‘Em Index: 2.5

Spare ‘Em  Index:  2.0

Survival Quotient: -0.50

In 5 Words or Less: Don’t be an ass.

In sum: Maggie seems the most vulnerable of the major characters. followed by Sasha, Tara and Glenn with Carl, Judith, and Beth just behind. Compelling cases can also be made for the departure of Bob and Rosita. The others seem safe. Or at least as safe as you can get on The Walking Dead.

The most radical scenario of all: everyone survives the finale. And the internet speculation.

Who do you think will survive? Who do you want to survive?  Is there a death that would make you stop watching? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

For the best-curated television news about The Walking Dead and other great shows, follow me on Twitter (@allenstjohn).

Allen St. John is the author of Newton’s Football: The Science Behind America’s Game, published by Ballantine Books

Source: Forbes Business


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