'The Walking Dead,' Season 6 finale: The new world order
Let us consider ourselves #blessed that Daryl Dixon didn't die by Dwight's hand.
Oh, and not one but two horses survived an entire episode. That has to be a record for the show.
Unfortunately, we are left wondering if Daryl was on the receiving end of a gruesome beating from The Walking Dead's newest character, Negan, and his precious Lucille.
"This is Lucille," Negan says, putting the barbed wire-wrapped baseball bat dangerously close to Rick's face. "And she is awesome."
The last eight episodes have been building up to Negan's arrival. The people of the Hilltop warned Rick's group of Negan's brutality, every encounter with Saviors ended in bloodshed, many Alexandrians had brushes with death and Denise died at the hands of Saviors.
Through it all Rick remained confident, almost cocky that he and his people were the good guys, and good guys always come out on top.
For the first time in I don't know how many seasons, Rick looked utterly terrified by the end of this episode. It was refreshing to see him vulnerable, but probably caused even more anxiety in viewers.
The episode started off with Morgan out looking for a horse and Carol, and ended with Negan beating to death a character we couldn't see.
"Eeny, meeny, miney, moe," Negan says, trying to choose from the lineup of Rick and his people.
The audience becomes the face of the chosen one, watching Negan swing Lucille and hearing the sickening crack of bones as he beats this person to death.
And then the credits roll.
Worst. Cliffhanger. Ever.
If you haven't caught on, Negan is the leader of the brutal Saviors. The actions of his followers, and his deeds just in his first 15 minutes of screen time make the governor and Terminus goons look like Santa and the Easter Bunny.
He explains to Rick the "new world order:" everything they have and everything they will have is Negan's.
Don't wanna comply? He kills.
He tells Rick that killing his people was totally "not cool," delivering dozens of lines straight from the comic pages.
"You're so gonna regret crossing me in a few minutes," Negan says. "I'm gonna beat the holy hell out of one of you."
This is the new world order. Survival in the postapocalyptic world no longer just means surviving the elements, fighting off the undead and maintaining safety and supplies.
Politics and governing now come into play. Negan's arrival signaled the change over to survival of the scariest and most manipulative.
More than eight hours of buildup led to the moment Rick and his people finally meet Negan. His arrival only lasted about 15 minutes, but made us forget the other hour or so of the season finale.
About a half hour was dedicated to Morgan searching for Carol, finding Carol and patching up her wound, arguing with Carol, losing Carol again and then finding her and saving her from the stalker Savior trying to kill her.
It was like a deadly apocalyptic game of hide and seek.
She better not be mad at him anymore. Mr. All Life is Precious actually killed someone for her.
The best part of Morgan rescuing Carol (besides, you know, her living) was the arrival of two armored men on horseback. When I say armored, I mean ruddy paintball gear.
And all the comic book-readers scream, "Yes the Kingdom is here!"
Don't worry, they're good guys, and they're going to help Carol.
The rest of the episode was spent with Rick and literally every important character trying to get a sick Maggie to the doctor at the Hilltop.
Everyone insisted on accompanying Rick and Carl — Abraham, Sasha, Eugene, Aaron — leaving Spencer and Gabriel in charge of Alexandria's safety. At least nothing happened to the town yet.
The troupe in the RV is stopped about five times by groups of Saviors blocking the roads and teasing them with violence yet to come.
One of the more gruesome stops was a handful of walkers chained together to create a blockade across the road. Not only did the Saviors snake the metal chains through the walkers' bodies, they made them up with articles of clothing from Daryl, Michonne, Glenn and Rosita.
One was wearing Daryl's jacket, another had Michonne's vest and a lock of her hair.
All of these blocks were guiding Rick and the rest to the clearing to meet Negan. No matter how hard they tried, they weren't going to reach the Hilltop.
The Saviors did try to warn them about crossing them. They used some poor man as an example by beating him multiple times then hanging him from an overpass.
We don't know much about this man, not even his name, but we do know he crossed Negan. He was the last of his group of people living in a nearby library, and he paid the ultimate price for breaking their rules.
Then it was one of Rick's people's' turn to pay a price for crossing the Saviors. The creepiest scene was Negan's terrifying speech to the trembling Alexandrians on their knees in the clearing.
The saddest part was remembering the positive, emotional conversations between Rick's people. Rick comforted a feverish Maggie, reassuring her everything was going to be okay. Abraham discussed a future with Sasha, asking her if they could do something so bold as what Maggie and Glenn did. Eugene bids a possibly final farewell to Rick and the rest as he tries to guide the Saviors away from the others with the RV. He and Abraham even make up and come to an understanding that they both helped each other get to where they are now.
"It's always been all of us," Rick tells Maggie. "As long as it's all of us we can do anything."
By doing this, The Walking Dead set us up for not knowing who exactly was going to die a bloody death.
Nobody knows, not even Chandler Riggs, who plays Carl and tweeted "if it makes you feel any better i still don't know who got killed and it's been like 6 months since i read the script #whoisit."
Jeffrey Dean Morgan might know. He was the special guest on Talking Dead after Sunday night's finale. He talked about the first time holding Lucille like becoming a new father.
"As soon as I held her I was Negan," he said. "Any kind of preparation didn't mean much until Lucille was in my hand."
So what do you all think? Was it Abraham, Daryl, Eugene, Glenn, Maggie, Michonne, Aaron or Rosita? It's probably not Rick or Carl, but you never know.
Only about 6 more months until season seven.
Contact Chelsea Tatham at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @chelseatatham on Twitter.