If you are anything like I am, you are still reeling from the death of Beth Greene (Emily Kinney) in the mid-season finale before the break. The sight of Daryl (Norman Reedus) carrying her limp body out of the hospital caused many hearts to break, but just as our gang of intrepid survivors may have been crushed by this, it also may lead to something even more important – a new resolve to move forward and change the playing field.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes) doesn’t reveal any spoilers, but he does let us know that all bets are off this second half of the season. He doesn’t explain why he was seen clean shaven while filming episodes, but we can imagine that Rick may simply have found a mirror and a razor someplace. More than that we have to only speculate.
In my mind Beth’s dying is more than just the death of a beloved character – it is a clear signal that no one is safe. No one! In my mind, and I know this will break more hearts, a real game changer would be if we lose someone we have been thinking will never die on the show – Daryl, Glenn, and even Carl come to mind. I know, you’re thinking there’s no way they will kill off Carl, but that is exactly what showrunner Scott Gimple likes to do. He wants you to sit there after the episode is over and whisper, “Oh my God.”
There was a throwaway line by Beth in season 4 that has always stayed with me – she told Daryl that he would be last man standing. She also said that he would miss her so much when she was gone. Talk about foreshadowing and then some, Beth’s prediction about her own fate has come to pass. Would it surprise you if Daryl is the last one to survive? Perhaps not, but my bet is that you take everything away from the person through whose eyes we really have seen this warped world of the dead since the beginning – Rick! How fitting it would be that Rick survives and yet loses everyone he loves and has tried to protect.
I think this last half of season 5 has to do something more than just kill of loved characters. With the reveal that Eugene’s (Josh McDermitt) tale about saving the world was all a lie, there has to be some hope. I think that is needed more than anything. Otherwise, these characters are just thrown out to the wind like a handful of dust, and where they scatter and fall will be unpredictable but less tragic. The idea that there is hope – and then even that they all cannot reach that salvation of escape – is more powerful than living in the grim reality that there is nothing to live for.
I am truly excited about this last half of the season, but I am expecting that we have not prepared ourselves to lose those whom we are going to lose. Still, if Gimple doesn’t provide a carrot of optimism, there’s no way he can expect the horse (we in the audience) to move on. I imagine that Rick’s encounter with a razor may have something to do with it, but there is no telling how far they will get before the world comes back to haunt them again.
As I’ve said before, the most dangerous element on The Walking Dead has long ceased being the zombies (whom our gang easily dispatch as of now). It’s other living people who are the most lethal element they face. We can only wonder about who the next living and breathing antagonist will be, but he or she may not remain that way too long if they confront Rick and company.
Still, I wonder about that last man standing. Maybe I am wrong and there is a chance that this series, whenever it finally does end, will have some of our survivors in a good and happy place. Unfortunately, I feel it is more likely that things are going to end grimly and maybe Rick will be the final survivor. How does he go on then? Maybe he will have one last bullet left in that revolver that will help him to join the others instead of the zombie hoard. That may be the ending no one wants but that will best complete the journey of Rick Grimes, even though I hope that is not the case.
For now we have a chance to savor new episodes. I have a feeling another important cast member is going to die early on – maybe even in this first episode. My hunch – Carol joins Lizzie in that great flower bed in the sky. I hope I’m wrong (I have been before), but wouldn’t that put Daryl completely over the edge?
I do feel that someone’s going and after losing Beth (the heart) all we need is to lose Carol (the soul) and perhaps there will be no place left to turn. It seems Gimple loves to put our band of survivors in that place where no one wants to see them be in order to get the explosive reaction that keeps this series being the best thing to watch on TV.
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