Spoilers for The Walking Dead’s midseason premiere are below.
Love it or hate it, The Walking Dead is back to deliver brain-splattering drama for the next two months, and Sunday night’s midseason premiere earned quite a bit of love from viewers for delivering a balanced mixture of comic moments and maxed out carnage. And like every other fairly complex episode of the series, “No Way Out” left us with lots of questions about what’s coming next, with perhaps the biggest one involving what kind of repercussions Daryl may or may not face for explosively dismantling that squad of motorcycle-riding thieves in the cold open.
First introduced in a scene that followed last year’s midseason finale, this group is one of presumably many that calls Negan leader, all under the name The Saviors. Negan, for those who haven’t read the comics (or paid attention to Walking Dead news in months), is the homicidal warlord taking on main villain duties in the season finale and beyond, and his behavior gets particularly nasty when he’s angry. Losing a batch of underlings – especially one as uncomfortably charismatic as Christopher Berry – could absolutely anger him, though less because they died and more because some outsider dared fuck with his operation. Something tells me Daryl’s attitude would not win Negan over right away, which could possibly mean Negan’s bat would have a different target than the one in the comics.
So while it’s pretty inarguable that Negan (or someone else within the Saviors) would want to hurt Daryl for blowing those men up, there would have to be some kind of evidence that Daryl actually was the one that killed them. I don’t think even the greatest forensic expert in the world would get “the killer was a redneck with an RPG” from DNA tests on that flesh-speckled road, so Daryl’s guilt in the situation will have to be discovered by different means.
Is it possible that someone was out in the woods watching the ordeal as it happened? It’s always a smart move to keep someone in the group outside of sight for exactly this reason, and we really have no idea how populated The Saviors are at this point. So maybe someone was out there who clearly thought three stragglers would be no match for everyone else, someone who then decided not to make his presence known after seeing Daryl, Abraham and Sasha’s firepower. And maybe that someone turned tail to tell Negan everything. If only the scene had a flash of a pant leg in the trees to let us know it was maybe one of those guys whose pant legs we’d seen when Daryl got all his shit stolen.
Or perhaps the show offered audiences a blatant clue within the scene itself, as a vehicle appears to be pulling up in the background just before everyone went up in flaming viscera. Look in the top right corner, where the two roads meet.
Now, if this were evidence from a real-life post-apocalyptic situation, I would almost definitely buy into the probability that someone inside of a car so close to these other two survivor groups would have to be connected to one of them, and whoever it was would then follow the trio of assailants. And though Negan is definitely a villain whose power commands a constant chauffeur, this obviously isn’t real life, and it was far more likely just a gaffe at the shooting location that wasn’t noticed until later in the post-production process. You saw how tiny it was, and this isn’t The Usual Suspects; The Walking Dead creative team does love to toy with the show’s fans, but in ways far more obvious and overstated. Even now, I’m already thinking if someone from the show says it is intentional, I’ll just assume they read stories about it online and retroactively made it a premeditated decision.
Even if the group’s collective death isn’t figured out solely by the mess that was made, all it would take is someone spotting Daryl walking around with explosive-spewing weapons for that person to put 2 and 2 together there. We know that Daryl and Rick will be heading out together on a mission next week, which could put them in someone else’s eyeline easier than if they were behind Alexandria’s walls.
The world is opening up in the next few weeks, with several new faces being introduced in this back half of Season 6, and Daryl is going to be pissed off and suspicious of everyone, and even audiences won’t be certain who is or isn’t a Savior. Hell, Daryl might even rat himself out to another pack of Saviors by telling them he’s the one that blew up their brethren, either while boasting or while under duress. Norman Reedus mentioned a big brawl with Negan was coming, and I think it would be fitting for Daryl’s fate to be set in motion by Daryl himself.
However it happens, I’m positive someone will put Daryl on the opposing end of vengeance, and if Negan is the one delivering it, then we might be saying farewell to another fan favorite. Yes, every year brings doomsayers claiming that Daryl’s days are numbered, usually with half-cocked speculation, and I’m not saying this is any different. But we know that Negan is going to destroy someone’s skull with Lucille and her barb wire – or something very similar, lest Scott Gimple and Robert Kirkman want to irk the fanbase all over again – and it’s seeming less and less likely that Glenn will be the one to go. So this at least provides a motive to harm Daryl…not that Negan needs a motive to do anything to anyone. But it helps.
It’s not clear when we’ll see a return from The Saviors, or how they’ll show up next, so it might be a while before Daryl has to pay for his actions. Sort of like the pre-apocalypse American justice system. Still, join us in relishing all manner of mayhem when The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights on AMC.
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Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.
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