When The Walking Dead returned last week for its eighth season, the premiere was conspicuously short on death, but that’s all about to change. We see the survivors headshot zombies left and right, yet somehow not even Rick could hit Negan or any of this lieutenants when his people ambushed Negan last week.
In Episode 2, “The Damned” a ton of screen time is donated to a massive firefight in which a team that includes Aaron and Eric pin some Saviors down while they wait for some undead backups to rip them to shreds. Several separate groups execute side missions: Rick and Daryl hunt for weapons, Morgan tries to take over a satellite dish. Tons of people die, but the casualties don’t include anybody the show deems “important.”
Still, now that we’re heading into Episode 3, it looks like the death toll is going to stack up. So here are the four characters most likely to die next:
Aaron’s boyfriend Eric has had only a small part on the show since Season 5, but now that all-out war has begun, he seems to have gained a more prominent role on the show. It’s entirely possible that The Walking Dead is building up his importance so he can be killed off. Still, fans probably wouldn’t care all that much, but Aaron definitely would.
By the end of the episode, Eric caught a bullet to the belly and was bleeding quite a bit. We don’t actually see him die, but it’s possible that he’s not long for this world. At this point in the comics, Eric gets shot by a stray bullet in the head. His death would respect comics canon while also dangerously moving towards the problematic “bury your gays” trope the show hasn’t handled well in the past.
Of all things, it could be Jesus’ mercy that get him killed. The Walking Dead has a long history of sentimental virtues doing more harm than good. The “nice” characters are the ones that tend to die, which is exactly why Rick was so hard on that stranger Carl seems so keen on. Rick’s playing it smart, because trusting nobody is safer than taking a risk on a stranger.
In “The Damned,” Jesus stops Tara from shooting a man named Dean, whom they find in the Sanctuary. Sure enough, Dean tries to kill Jesus when he gets a chance. Still, Jesus inexplicably refuses to kill him, taking him prisoner instead. Will that choice come back to haunt him?
Remember how dangerous mercy could be? In the season premiere, Father Gabriel foolishly risked his own life to save Gregory, who promptly drove away in Gabriel’s getaway car, leaving the good Father to a horde of zombies.
We didn’t get a check-in with Gabriel in “The Damned,” but the last we saw of him, he was trapped inside an RV with Negan. Negan tells him he’s about to shit his pants. Gabriel does have a gun. In any sensible world, he’d shoot Negan in the head immediately. This being a torturous show where only bad things happen, Gabriel is either about to get bludgeoned or he’ll be working with Negan in some capacity. Which would be worse?
Morgan’s bold boast towards the beginning of “The Damned” was utterly foolish: “I don’t die.”
Weirdly enough, when he and his two companions come under a hail of gunfire, Morgan actually survives. Somehow his body armor protected him enough that he could walk away unscathed — either that or he truly is magic. He then goes on an absolute rampage that scares lots of people. Jesus is able to talk him down from killing prisoners. Morgan is going a little bit too wild here, so unless he can make a drastic shift soon, he’s going to find himself in too much danger.
The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights at 9 p.m. Eastern on AMC.