Is This the Real Reason for The Walking Dead’s Latest Tragic Death? – Vanity Fair

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Spoilers for Season 6, Episode 14 of The Walking Dead.

The Walking Dead broke up yet another relationship this week, when Dwight’s arrow pierced Denise’s head and rudely interrupted her passionate speech. But like Jessie before her, Denise is another Walking Dead girlfriend who died to serve the larger plot. This wasn’t really about Denise, her bravery, and her relationship with Tara at all. The show bent over backward to put Denise in the path of that arrow (meant for Abraham in the comics), and her death had very little to do with a satisfying conclusion to her character’s arc. But which main character’s plot did this death actually serve, how will the absence of Denise pay off in the long run, and was her sacrifice worth it? Here are five good candidates. Spoilers from the comic books to follow.

Glenn and Maggie: Most of the external show chatter this season has focused on the fate of Glenn Rhee. Comic-book readers know Glenn’s end may be drawing near, and the writers played with those expectations earlier in the season when Glenn tumbled headlong into a pile of zombies. But against all odds, Glenn is still alive, Maggie is pregnant, and if the pair of them are going to meet their gruesome fate in the season finale, something is going to have to inspire them to leave the relative safety of Alexandria. We already saw that Glenn and Maggie were impressed with the Hilltop Colony’s medical amenities (they had an ultrasound and an OB/GYN!), and now that Alexandria is completely without a doctor, their choice is clear.

Glenn and Maggie didn’t necessarily need this inspiration to put themselves in the line of danger. The parents-to-be were both just out on a very dangerous mission last week. But if her TV story line is to play out the way it does in the comics, it is important that Maggie have a strong motivation to leave her friends behind and stay at Hilltop. As the show teased in the episode “Knots Untie,” Maggie will make a bid to lead the Colony in future episodes. That is, of course, if she survives this season in one piece.

Carol: This has been one of the more confusing and disjointed arcs of the season. But, essentially, the show wants Carol—who went from meek to badass—to return to her passive ways. I have no clue why; the badass version of Carol has been a consistent fan favorite. At this point in the comics, Carol is already dead, so the show isn’t beholden to any book plot. But maybe Carol just needs to be out of the way when Negan finally arrives? In order for that to happen, Carol had to rapidly lose her taste for violence. It was the death of Sam, of all things, that kicked this regression off for Carol, but Denise’s death was the final straw. So Carol has—once again—left the group. Is she headed toward suicide (her would-be fate several seasons ago) via zombie? Or is she on her way to yet another reversal and triumphant return? If Morgan has anything to do with it, it’ll be the latter.

Daryl and Abraham: Since Abraham was spared and Denise slotted into this place, that means there’s something big coming for the redhead, right? There are some theories that Abraham’s continued presence on the show is bad news for Daryl. The thinking there is that Rick can only have so many right-hand men, and between Michonne, Daryl, Abraham, and now Jesus, there are too many characters jockeying for the role of lieutenant. Daryl is a show-invented character and The Walking Dead has been struggling since Beth’s death to find a convincing way to fold him into the main narrative. Denise taking that arrow for Abraham, combined with several external factors, could mean Norman Reedus is finally ready to leave the show. Leaked video of Negan attacking Rick’s group led many to believe that it’s Daryl, not Glenn, on the receiving end of Negan’s bat.

But there are those who think fan favorites Daryl, Glenn, Maggie, Carol, Rick, and Michonne will all make it through this season in one piece. The show seems increasingly reluctant to kill off main characters. But Negan needs a big kill in the season finale in order to establish himself at the monstrous threat the writers promise him to be. So will it actually be Abraham taking the blow? He’s not nearly as beloved as the people listed above, but he is a major character and an imposing physical threat. With the burgeoning romance he has going on with Sasha, Abraham’s primed for tragedy. So maybe, just maybe, Denise had to take the arrow this week so Abraham could take the bat in the 90-minute season finale on April 3. Will it all have been worth it then?


Is This the Real Reason for The Walking Dead’s Latest Tragic Death? – Vanity Fair