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‘Walking Dead': Negan and Carol Did WHAT?

The war against the Whisperers took a pivotal turn Sunday night

(This article contains only the biggest spoilers from the March 15 episode of “The Walking Dead” on AMC)

Since it’s based on a comic book, “The Walking Dead” doesn’t catch us completely off guard all that often. But it happened this week, in an episode that featured three major character deaths. But while the deaths were themselves a bit surprising, but what came after them, at the very end of the episode, was the real shocker.

The first death, Gamma (Thora Birch), we didn’t see coming because, well, that character is original to the show, and so she had been a wild card the whole time. The second death, Earl Sutton (John Finn), was tragic, as we had already seen his wife and son die at different points last season. So now his whole family is just gone.

And the third death we’ve been waiting for all year. While it happened later than it did in the comics, Alpha (Samantha Morton), finally met her fate this week when Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) cut her throat. This is more or less how her death happened in the books, except in the comics it was her murder that sparked the war. On the TV version of “The Walking Dead” she at least got to see a little bit of the war before going out.

The big twist here, though, is not the change in the timing — it’s that Negan was not the lone wolf as he was in the comics. Instead, he apparently had been secretly working with Carol (Melissa McBride) as he infiltrated the Whisperers. Or at least it’s heavily implied that that’s the case, with Negan heading straight to a meetup with Carol after he took out Alpha.

This is a wild direction to go, or at least that’s how it feels right now. I don’t know all the ramifications of this twist just yet — in the comics, Alpha’s death came in what felt like a moment of improvisation on Negan’s part, but this seems more like it’s part of some grand plan.

What that grand plan might be is anyone’s guess, though, because it certainly hasn’t felt like Negan had been doing anything with any sort of intent since he joined up with the Whisperers, aside from clearly trying to keep her from slaughtering people — remember how he spared that mortally wounded Hilltopper from having to join the horde?

So what’s he ultimately up to? Maybe he’s making a power play to become the new Alpha and end the war?

Whatever the answer is, this is a nice turn for Carol, who has been having a really hard time since the Whisperers cut off her adopted son’s head last year. It’s good to see her taking the initiative and getting stuff done.

This is, legitimately, an exciting and unexpected direction for “The Walking Dead” to take. And I can only hope the remainder of the season will pay off this twist as well as it deserves.