[This article contains SPOILERS for both The Walking Dead television show and comic books.]
The Walking Dead is well into its sixth season and by now fans are prepared to always expect the worst. Just about anyone (outside of Rick and maybe Carl) can seemingly die, and the series takes real pleasure in putting its characters in peril and teasing whether or not it's really the end. Case in point: leaving Glenn at the mercy of a wild pack of walkers who are presumably about to rip him to shreds and then not checking back in for a handful of episodes.
But the walkers aren't even the biggest threat to everyone's favorite characters -- it's other humans, and specifically at the moment, the Saviors. Worst of all is their leader, Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), a greatly anticipated and feared villain from the comics who is set to appear later this season. And according to actor Steven Yeun, "his arrival is awesome."
In talking with EW, Yeun continues:
"We’ve been waiting for this person for a long time, and in the comic books, he in a way brings a level of stakes that are kind of unmatched. And so, for me, for Negan to come into the show is, to say nothing less, f—ing awesome."
Comic book creator and executive producer, Robert Kirkman has already teased that Negan's arrival will be like that of an "atomic bomb," and afterwards the show will "probably never be the same." And beyond being a ruthless bad guy unlike any other Rick and Co. have met before, it's really the manner in which Negan marks his arrival that leaves such an impression.
MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THE COMIC BELOW
As those who've read The Walking Dead comics (or couldn't give a toss about spoilers) already know, Negan arrives on the scene swinging his barbed wire covered bat, Lucille, and proceeds to smash in Glenn's skull. Needless to say, the scene is brutal and easily one of -- if not the -- most shocking death of the series to date. It's also one of the deaths that comic book fans keep waiting to crop up on the television series, something of which Yeun is only too aware:
"I know people are going to always go, ‘Negan kills Glenn in the comics,’ but rest assured that we don’t necessarily do what’s in the comics. There’s a clear divide in the way we tell a story on television, and the way that story is told in the comics, because it has to be. And everybody will have to see what happens, but we definitely tell our story in the way that television should be told."
That's more or less true. Even when The Walking Dead television series comes close to mirroring the comics, as it is currently with the Alexandria storyline, the TV show still tends to forge its own path instead of blindly following the comics. Which has been key, actually, to the series' success as an adaptation. As Yeun explains:
"That’s the beauty of the adaptation. There is something to be said about something being predictable. I’m sure there are iconic moments, but at the same time, we want to keep this show as fresh and alive as possible, and we’re going to tell that story that exists for the world we’ve created. And it is inspired by the world Robert Kirkman has created, but it’s also its own entity, to some degree. So, yeah. I mean, we’ll see what happens."
Obviously, Yeun is playing coy because he can't come right out and say what happens. But does Negan kill Glenn? Probably not, and especially not after the "scare" the series gave us with Glenn earlier in the season. So if it's not Glenn, then who? Maggie? Carol? Michonne? Daryl? Just about any of these characters are potential victims, but whomever Negan kills in cold blood, their death needs to have an impact on Rick and the other survivors that equals if not exceeds the shock and grief surrounding Glenn's murder in the comics.
The Walking Dead season 6 continues next Sunday with 'Twice as Far' @9pm on AMC.