One of the most persistent theories about The Walking Dead's Season 7 premiere is that we're about to be treated to not one, but two deaths at the hands of new villain Negan's (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) barbed-wire wrapped baseball bat, Lucille.
The first inklings that Negan's bloody bat would claim multiple victims came when Executive Producer Greg Nicotero gave an interview to EW where, talking about the Season 6 finale, he said, "If we would have shown the deaths..." Deaths, plural. The rumor seemed to be confirmed when Morgan told Den of Geek magazine that, "Negan's not just going to kill one person in [the premiere]. He's not afraid of bashing in skulls."
Grain of salt, of course: Nicotero's quote had been talking about how other shows handle cliffhangers just one paragraph prior, which could explain the plural "deaths"; and Morgan's quote has "the premiere" in brackets. You could also read the latter quote to mean Negan isn't just going to kill a person, he's going to do other stuff. (And that "other stuff" involves some disturbing hand stuff that's decidedly not the sexy kind of hand stuff. For more, read here.)
Potential, and actual spoilers for The Walking Dead past this point.
Regardless, fans have been running with it, speculating that this meant Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan) was the one marked for death. See, when last we left her she was sickly and dying, while pregnant with Glenn Rhee's (Steven Yeun) baby. Ignoring the debate about whether a fetus counts as a person (please please please let's not go there), it is possible the "not just" one person in Morgan's quote, and the "deaths" in Nicotero's quote could mean Maggie and her future kid.
The second most popular theory? The two victims are Glenn and Abraham (Michael Cudlitz). Glenn dies at Negan's hands in the comics The Walking Dead is based on, while Abraham died far earlier in the graphic novel timeline: an arrow killed Merritt Wever's character Denise in Season 6, in the same way Abraham bit it in the books.
Cudlitz seemed to put this theory to rest, though, with a series of interviews (including with TVGuide.com) discussing how having Abraham in the mix with Negan changes things from the books; but hey, Cudlitz could also be lying!
I've got a third theory, though: what if Negan kills Glenn and Maggie?
There's more than enough evidence at this point that Maggie is a goner... Cohan has been frequently spotted off set, she's let her hair grow out, gave an emotional speech at New York Comic Con that certainly sounded like a goodbye speech. And most damning of all, a scene from the Season 7 premiere certainly seemed to indicate from the blood splatter on Rick Grimes' (Andrew Lincoln) face, as well as the direction of a pile of gore on the ground, that the person directly to Rick's right side had died (that would be Maggie).
So it doesn't look too good for the last surviving member of the Greene family... But what about the dual deaths?
Here's where pure speculation comes in, because, of course, we don't even know for sure that there will be two deaths. But ever since issue #100 of The Walking Dead comic hit stands (on July 12, 2012), fans have been asking Yeun, series creator Robert Kirkman, and anyone else they can get their hands on if Glenn would exit the same way on screen that he did on the page.
If Glenn is the only death, and he dies in the same way... That's going to be a huge dramatic letdown. It'll still be gross, it'll still affect the characters going forward; but it would be the biggest case of "well, we knew that already" since Jon Snow was resurrected on Game of Thrones in exactly the same way as fans had guessed he'd be resurrected.
The dual deaths provide a twist, though. You get that iconic comic book moment -- and it is iconic, when I first read the scene I remember squeezing my iPad so hard I almost broke it in half -- but also get to surprise fans at the same time.
So why both Glenn and Maggie? Because their stories are one story. Ever since they first romantically boned in a pharmacy aisle way back in Season 2's "Cherokee Rose," their characters have been inextricably linked, both emotionally and physically. Even when they were separated, they still felt each other's presence. To have one survive without the other is inconceivable.
In the books, though, that's exactly what happens. Maggie survives, and goes on to become a leader as strong (or maybe stronger) than Rick. But the show is a different monster entirely. Would TV Maggie even want to live without Glenn? Or vice versa? When Glenn was presumed dead last season, Maggie kept going because she knew in her heart he wasn't gone, and wrestled with the idea that she could have an existence without her other half.
Comic Maggie is different: she always had her own agency. But if TV Glenn meets the wrong end of Lucille, I could easily see TV Maggie forcing Negan's hand to take her out, too -- so that #Glaggie could go out Romeo and Juliet style.
In a weird way, wouldn't that also be more emotionally satisfying? Seeing Glenn OR Maggie forced to live on without the other would push character growth, and would be right in line with TWD's relentlessly grim worldview. But as agonizing as seeing them both get bashed to death with a baseball bat would be, it would provide more closure to have the duo say goodbye together.
As Yeun himself said at the same New York Comic Con panel Cohan lost her chill at: "Glenn and Maggie are classic."
Add in the very specious evidence that, other than Norman "They Will Never Kill Me" Reedus, Cohan and Yeun are the cast members with the most non-Walking Dead projects lined up for the rest of the year, and beyond; and you get the sense that the show's most hopeful, romantic couple are about to end their relationship in a clearing in the woods.
Or hey, maybe Negan will kill Aaron (Ross Marquand)! Probably not! But who knows? I certainly don't. Whatever happens? Whoever dies? There are only a few days left until we know for sure...
The Walking Dead returns to AMC on Sunday, October 23 at 9/8c.