Major spoilers below for anyone who hasn't yet watched The Walking Dead's latest episode.
Time will tell, but "The Key" seems destined to make the list of The Walking Dead's most intense and exciting installments, bouncing between Simon and Dwight's semi-takeover, Maggie's introduction to Georgie and the biggest Rick and Negan brawl we've seen yet. Viewers watched a pretty decent car chase, turn into hand-to-hand combat, with some walker massacress scattered throughout the extended rumble. Both men eventually survived without any (obvious) fatal wounds, but Rick was in a much better position than Negan, who found himself captured by the increasingly unpredictable Jadis.
The Walking Dead offered up a lot of thinking points across the map in this episode, and here, we're focusing on the big questions we were left with after Rick and Negan's big brawl in "The Key." We'll start off by pondering the fate of the big bad himself.
What'll Happen To Negan?
Of all the people with clear and present motives to put Negan in a shallow grave, Jadis has a comfortable spot near the top, since everyone she knew was savagely murdered by Negan's minions. Of course, the mustachioed maniac only found out about that massacre from Rick not long before being scooped up by Jadis, so he can at least take comfort in pleading ignorance, regardless of whether or not he's believed. Will that be enough to stop Jadis from killing him?
If this were a less fictional scenario, I'd have to think not, what with all the headaches and literal open head wounds that Negan has inspired. But if his survival is meant to drive the narrative forward, then that's what we can expect to see. Far beyond the cranial gash that her gun hopefully left, Negan deserves some mighty painful reminders that his social skills and leadership methods are not in everyone else's best wishes, no matter how highly he likes to speak of himself. So even if Negan survives his latest hiccup, here's hoping Jadis gets artistically vicious during their time together.
Will Simon Be The Next Big Death?
At least one reasonably understandable scenario exists that would explain why Jadis would keep her new prisoner Negan alive, and it involves the two antagonists forming a coalition of sorts, with Simon as their shared target. (And probably Rick, too, but that's another story.) Negan now knows that Simon explicitly went against the super-specific order of only killing one person, and if Jadis can be convinced that Negan's disciplinary rage is worth keeping around, then Simon's days are most certainly numbered.
Things should get really interesting when Negan shows up again to see that Simon and Dwight have attempted to usurp leadership duties, something that already played out on a smaller scale whenever Negan brought the ill-fallen Father Gabriel in. And something tells me the punishment here will be just a tad more severe than a hot iron to the face, especially since Jadis will be adding to the sentencing. Then, the question would shift to how Jadis and Negan could move forward from that moment.
Does Rick Have A Death Wish Now?
The Law of Grimes states that if Rick promised Carl to trade violence for peace, Rick's follow-up actions can only fall under the category of "completely violent and not at all peaceful." It couldn't have been evidenced any better than by Rick's audible that led to his vehicular assassination attempt on Negan. Granted, it was a good idea in theory, and Rick unwittingly threw the Savior hierarchy into chaos by taking that risk. But is this just further proof that he's becoming a lot more reckless with his own life as the All Out War goes on, perhaps in a happenstance effort to pass the leadership torch to someone else?
For as much as Rick obviously cares about all the other survivors, especially Judith and Michonne, he no longer has any personal bloodline stakes in the future. (Unless Michonne happens to be pregnant, of course.) So it's possible that Rick has taken on an unannounced mission statement to take out Negan no matter what the consequences, in order to give everyone else a chance at a less oppressed existence? The last year has seen a lot of talk surrounding Comic Rick's eventual death, and what that might mean for his live-action counterpart. Andrew Lincoln isn't against the idea of bowing out earlier than others, so is this how the show will do it?
How Is Lucille Still Intact?
Even though Robot Chicken's Walking Dead special jokingly portrayed Lucille as a superpowered being from a different planet, "she" is nothing more than an everyday wooden baseball bat. So by all logical means, Lucille should not have been able to stay fully intact for the entire time that Rick and Negan's paths have crossed, much less however long Negan had her around in the weeks and months before that. And given how the central brawl played out, I legitimately expected Lucille to finally get destroyed during "The Key," getting us all one step closer to bathing in Negan's mournful tears. In the end, Lucille somehow lived to see another day, as it were. (We assume, since we didn't see where Jadis put it.)
But how did it even make it this long?!? Lucille has bashed a large number of healthy skulls of still-living people, not to mention all of those weakened and rotted headshots, which already went beyond the realm of believability. Then it took, nay, stopped a bullet from taking Negan out. (A homemade bullet, but that's speedy projectile semantics.) And now, Lucille has survived being set on fire for a while, which itself occurred after the bat spent part of the day soaking in walker viscera. I don't claim to know the precise amounts of stress and pressure needed to split a wooden bat into pieces, but I fully believe that Lucille's current undemolished state is less plausible than a global zombie outbreak. Sure was cool to see it on fire, though.