Throughout the first half of its seventh season, AMC's The Walking Dead has put Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and friends through the wringer. The season began with the double homicide of Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and Glenn (Steven Yeun), unceremoniously clubbed to death by smirking psychopath Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his "vampire bat" Lucille. From there, the season splintered the cast off into several different directors and stories, offering only the slightest of silver linings through otherwise enormously bleak hours of television.
With the midseason finale looming, don't expect the bleakness to end. Season seven hits pause Sunday, and given where things left off last week — Negan's in Alexandria with Baby Judith in his arms as he contemplates an appropriate new punishment for Rick and his people — the increasingly morbid series stands to continues its descent into darkness.
Before the episode airs, here are our biggest questions and predictions about the Walking Dead midseason finale:
1. Is Baby Judith in Trouble?
In one sense, yes, of course. The affectionately nicknamed "Little Ass-Kicker" more than lives up to her reputation by behaving like an absolute angel in the midst of her surrounding world's myriad horrors, but she's still a baby living in the zombie apocalypse. Trouble comes with the territory. However, it's not worth worrying too much over the Negan situation. As awful as the man is, he does seem to have some sense of an internal code, however skewed it might be. Doubtful it involves killing an infant. Then again, fans of the Walking Deadcomic books know all too well that we already have a lot more Judith than the source material provides …
2. Negan Will Kill Somebody
Not a walker, though there may be one of them, too. No, it's time for Negan's vampire bat Lucille to drink once more from the head of a main player, or at least a recognizable one. It won't be Judith, but someone's going to suffer the consequences for Carl's (Chandler Riggs) foolish decision to take a shot at Negan. And if it's not a result of Carl's actions, there's no shortage of people in position to make a big Negan-centric mistake — like Rosita (Christian Serratos) with her single bullet, for instance, or Spencer (Austin Nichols) with his rebellious instincts, or Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) just because. Whoever it is, familiar blood will spill in the midseason finale, and it'll be at Negan's hands.
3. What's in the Bog?
Rick and Aaron (Ross Marquand) were last seen traveling into the depths of a swamp-dwelling safe haven, the inhabitant presumed dead. We have no idea what's ahead or what they're in store for, but seeing as there isn't all that much pressing walker action happening anywhere else, look for this storyline to be the source of the finale's biggest zombie scares.
4. Daryl Dixon is Escaping
Not even a little bit of a question: Daryl will break free from the Sanctuary and the Saviors before the midseason finale ends. Norman Reedus has spent far too much time in that gnarly sweatsuit for anyone's liking. It's time to bring the Walking Dead poster boy back into the fold and thrust him into the heart of the action in time for what's hopefully a more explosive second half of season seven. As for who's helping him escape? Take your pick, but Sherry (Christine Evangelista), Dwight (Austin Amelio) and Jesus (Tom Payne) are all safe bets.
5. Will an Alliance Form?
It's only a matter of time before Alexandria and the Hilltop learn about some of these other communities who have lived or are currently living under Negan's oppressive regime. But is the finale enough time to put Rick on a collision course with Carol (Melissa McBride), Morgan (Lennie James), Ezekiel (Khary Payton) and the Kingdom? Perhaps not. There's almost no question that the Grimes Gang will get their groove back before season seven ends, but it's entirely possible that their revenge won't start in earnest until next year.
6. Rosita Will Take a Shot
What is it that Chekhov said? Ah, yes: "You don't have Eugene (Josh McDermitt) forge a bullet in the first half of the season without the bullet going off in the midseason finale." Or something like that. In any event, Rosita wants to take a shot at Negan, and she's almost certainly going to do it — and equally certain is the fact that she'll miss, or at least fail to kill the man. It's a question of how the aftermath will play out, but no question that the aftermath will exist.
7. Are We In for Another Cliffhanger?
After leaving viewers with the fates of their favorite characters hanging in the balance all last summer, Walking Dead could easily pull a similar trick again as it pauses down for the midseason break. Not that we're in for more POV shenanigans (at least one hopes not), but more often than not, Walking Dead ends the first halves of its seasons on notes of uncertainty. The ones that don't end on a question typically end with a deadly twist, like season two's barn reveal or the death of Beth (Emily Kinney) in season five. So pick your poison: a brutal character death, or a brutal wait for resolution.
What are your predictions for the Walking Dead finale? Sound off in the comments,