The Comic-Con Pre-season Trailer, discussed throughout this blog in Italics.
Last week's episode was pretty pedestrian. The previous three episodes focused on just one subgroup of the Survivor's-Beth in the hospital, Glenn and Maggie with Abraham's trio, and then Darryl and Carol's big adventure in Atlanta. Last week they gave significant screen time to those three sub-groups as well as a 4th story involving Father Gabriel at the church. The result was a narrative felt that felt rushed and only one truly suspenseful sequence.
More problematic than the distribution of screen time was the rather large story plot that involved Sasha getting duped into doing something incredibly stupid. I just didn't buy that she would be that gullible. But this was the device they chose to set up some suspense for tonight's midseason finale. I have also re-watched the pre-season coming attractions for clips that we haven't seen yet. Discussion of such clips are in italics below, with the time stamp of where the scene can be found.
It's hard to intelligently predict what will happen tonight because the episode ended in a bit of a jumbled mess. The clips on AMCTV.com are also unhelpful for making predictions about the whole story because the lengthy clip focuses on Father Gabriel. The description that AMC posted for the episode is "Rules and Morals have been tossed aside by new enemies. Rick will try to find a peaceful agreement, but they might prefer violence." That's about as opaque as you would expect but there's at least one hint in there that's worth speculating about. (See Below.)
1. Father Gabriel, man about town.
Last week we watched Father Gabriel leave the church without a weapon. He duly ran afoul of a walker, who he was able to neutralize without having to kill. The preview shows him making his way back to the school where the Termites were camped out when they took Bob captive. He discovers Bob's charred leg on their abandoned grill. I would be very surprised if he died tonight, becau he's played by a fairly famous actor, by TWD standards, and the audience has no emotional investment in him yet. That means they spent money to get him and they're not going to waste him after a handful of scenes. So he'll probably make his way back to the church and slip back through the crawl space. Most likely he'll have to kill a walker while he's out there though. That will be his big emotional moment. And that's just not very interesting so I hope they don't waste a lot of time on that.
2. Abraham and Company, Where to?
The worst story line last week was the one focusing on Abraham's group. The obvious thing for them to do would have been to head back to the church. The bit about waiting for Eugene to wake up before moving seemed forced, especially in light of the fact that they were within nose range of a colossal Walker herd. And the only thing we learned about this group is that Tara is still capable of joy because she found a yo-yo. That's a small point but given that I often wish they would let the survivors have a little more fun, I was happy to see it made. I think Gleen, Tara and Rosita might just be the three mentally healthiest characters left so it was good to see them off on a harmless jaunt to the creek.
What happens next? The logical thing would be for them to get back on the road and head back towards the church. But I don't think that's going to happen. The only clip in the coming attractions of this group shows Maggie and Glenn in the back seat of what appears to be the Fire Truck. Glenn has his gun drawn and Maggie looks scared. That doesn't tell us much other than the group runs into some kind of trouble. One online theory is that Eugene actually died last week and turned to a Walker. I don't buy it, although I do think the show runners left that possibility open on purpose when they had Eugene moan in that awkward way as he regained consciousness.
My hunch is that this group will not meet back up with the church folks or the team in Atlanta. I think the separation will continue into the 2nd half of the next season, perhaps with Team Glenn heading north for some convoluted reason. Maybe they get caught and/or distracted by a new group of survivors.
A very brief shot at 1:14 of the previews appears to show Glenn and some other characters approaching the giant herd of walkers that their fire truck is now close to. It's hard to say for sure but I think the figures in the back ground include Glenn, Tara, Eugene, Maggie and Rosita. Two figures are impossible to identify but they could be Abraham and Rosita. They are walking on foot and the fire truck can not be seen. The herd seems to be behind some kind of fence so this might not be the herd that they smelled two weeks ago.
3. Michonne, Carl and Judith: On the sidelines.
One of the strangest points about the story unfolding thithats way is that it will apparently leave Michonne far from the action in a cliff-hanger episode. Maybe she discovers that Gabriel left the church and goes out to find him. One hellacious possibility is that Rick and Judith will then be caught unawares by walker and Judith will end up dead. I really hope they don't go for that because I think Judith is the heaviest emotional card that the show has left to play. It would be a wasted to do it this soon and way too depressing.
At 1:15 of the coming attractions, Michonne is stomping on a walker. I don't think we have seen this yet and it looks like it might happen near the church, perhaps after she sets out to find Father Gabriel.
4. Team Rick: heading for a fight.
I just watched the previews scenes slowly and learned a few things. When Rick is shown introducing himself to (presumably) Dawn, Darryl is shown up on the roof of a nearby parking garage. I thought last week that he was with Noah but the pause button makes clear (about 28 seconds in) that it is Sasha. Another clip appears to show Rick asking Sgt. Bob "Do you want to live." It looks like this scene takes place in the same building where Sasha was left guarding the three police officers.
This would imply that Rick heads back to that building. Maybe they heard the tumult of Sasha being knocked out. Or maybe the cops get out of that place and confront Rick before he makes it to the hospital and a fight ensues. I'm starting to think that the "main" story line tonight might be even more convuluted than last week. Some of the rumors I've read online imply that tonight ends with a cliff hanger, just like last season did. We might get another spectacular start to a half-season in February. (AMC has probably figured out that big starts lead to big ratings for several weeks after.)
So I think tonight's episode will end with Rick and Dawn in a standoff. The biggest question is, who might die in the interim.
5. Carol and Beth: Darryl's Not-girlfriends.
Probably the biggest source of speculation on tonight's episode has been Norman Reedus' declaration that he cried for a half hour before filming tonight's episode. The simplest reading of that is that Norman knows one of Darryl's good friends will die tonight. Of course Norman could have been crying because of the loss of an actor that he admires. And he could be exaggerating and he could be trying to drum up interest in the episode. But precedent suggests that someone important has to die tonight, and Beth and Carol both seem like prime contenders.
I don't think Beth will die. Two entire episodes have been dedicated to her story and I think she's supposed to be reunited with Maggie at some point. They also have potential for a nice story line of her and Noah becoming a couple. There is one clip (2:46) of her looking down an hospital elevator shaft. Another flash in last week's sneak preview showed her in a similar position. I think she lives tonight and I still am going with my theory that Dawn is somehow redeemed.
Carol is a closer call. The driving tension of tonight's episode is that Rick will negotiate for the safe return of Carol and Beth. When last we saw Carol she was still unconscious and being kept alive by an IV drip administered by Beth. Dawn could use this as an excuse to not turn Carol over. "Why should we give you her if only we can take care o her?" One popular theory is that Beth will die doing something heroic to save Carol. I think it's more likely Carol will have a miraculous recovery, only to die in a horribly Walking Dead fashion. Thinks about the guilt consequence for Rick, Beth and Darryl. That could really drive some emotional baggage for a season and a half to come.
6. Death Predictions.
There is no single logical candidate for death tonight. But I think the most likely sympathetic character death is Carol. Beth and/or Noah seem like possible deaths also. Tyrese would be a logical candidate but I don't think they have hinted at that enough. The bald asshole from last week are most likely to die. I think either Dawn or Sgt. Bob will die tonight, and my hunch is Sgt. Bob.
7. Wild Card: Is Sasha Pregnant?
Sonequa Martin was a guest on The Talking Dead last week and revealed that she was eight months pregnant. I'm not exactly sure of the shooting schedule but it would seem likely that this will become visible by the end of the season. A convenient way to avoid that is to kill Sasha off. But there are dangers there for at TV show. Huntery Tylo successfully sued the producers of Merose Place for $5 million dollars when they made a similar decision.
Now I have no reason to think that Sasha was going to be killed, but it would be reasonable for TWD to want to incorporate her pregnancy into the storyline. Consider that Bob tried to kiss Sasha towards the end of Season Three and was rebuffed. On that night episode of the Talking Dead, Ms. Green explained that Sasha appreciated the kiss as a gesture but made clear that she had no romantic interest in Bob.
Well something changed her mind. Maybe the writers decided that it would be better to incorporate the pregnancy into the story line than to try to hide it for a half-season. Babies certainly create tension and hope. Tyrese's roll as Judith's primary caretaker takes on new significance if he's about to become an uncle to a child with a dead father.
Sasha being pregnant also repeats the story line of Lori Grimes getting pregnant in Season 2. (Or One, if in fact Shane is Judith's real father.) That story line put added incentive on finding a safe, stable place to live, the prison. It is anticipated that the next major location for the show will be the Alexandria Safe Zone, a spot that has been one of the main locations of the comic book story line for the last several years.
So we may not learn this tonight, but my biggest prediction is that Sasha is pregnant, Bob is the father, and the two major groups will eventually meet up in Alexandria. Rick and company after all have no idea that Eugene was full of shit. (They would probably pass the overturned church bus on their way north, but I think the producers are more than willing to overlook a detail like that.)
I will miss the show for the winter break. It's a frustrating show but I've never enjoyed speculating about the plot of any show as much as I do this one.
8. Bonus Prediction: No Morgan Tonight.
Okay, the episode is about to start but I wanted to add a prediction that we will NOT see Morgan tonight but that he will be a major part of the second half of the season. I'm still intrigued by the clip we saw of him after the credits of the season premiere. He is in the area near Terminus and he notices an intricate carving in one of the trees. I think that's a flash forward and we'll know before we see that scene pickup what the significance of the carving is. The Hunters made a crude mark while tracking Rick's group but this is something much more involved. I suspect it's the sign of a group like Nagin's or some other new bunch of survivors. Okay. It's showtime!